You can call me slow as I am…way behind in the blog by three weeks! Yikes, I been meaning to blog three times a week but life got in the way. Ok, here is the update. I will post about the Whidbey and Ewefull Acres trials and will follow up in other blogs on other trials and farm life.
Whidbey was nice and probably the last June trial that Susan and Allison will host. They may do another trial but I don’t think it will be June but they will let people know on what will happen. I got there with lots of time and park the trailer and hung out and relaxed. I entered Nan and Maid in Open and didn’t have enough time to run a dog in PN as that was on Monday and I had to work.
Sheep were light and unforgiving so if you pushed on them, you were hurting. The judge was Martin from Ireland and very capably. He wanted good dog work and careful handling of the sheep and proper lines. My lines were more of the “one glass of wine lines” unfortunately. You had a standard course with a pen and shed at the end. Maid was up early and was on the muscle. Up tight on the outrun then kicked out with a redirect, and offline at the top and wouldn’t hold the flank. She had a nice first leg, only to ignore me and drive them up the fiend then back down again, like a drunken sailor doing a jig and we finally made the last line look decent. We did manage to cover most the field on the crossdrive than the 21 yard line the judge had mapped out for us. We couldn’t get the pen and timed out and went back to the trailer to lick our wounds. On light sheep, she likes to push and no down so homework for me. Nan was better and we danced about a bit on the fetch, got a little high on the drive but did respectable. She stuffed them into the pen and did a clean sweep of the two on the shed. She placed 5th for her run and I was quite pleased with her, considering she is almost 12 years old and deaf in one ear and slowly losing hearing in the other ear. But she runs with gusto and acts like a yearling and is in great physical and mental shape.
The hander’s dinner was roast lamb and potluck. Was I ever stuffed! We got a check for Nan’s run-woot! We also gave gifts to Sue and George for hosting 25 years of trials and to Judy for hosting trials. There were lovely chairs from the Canadians and plants/tables/etc from WASH. The weather was lovely and I went for a lot of walk with the girls and read books, which I have sorely missed doing.
Day two of the trial, the herding God must have been asleep at the wheel. The judge was not and very keen if you had any mistakes. He is an excellent and consistent judge and very enjoyable. His wife, Christine looks like she just walked out of the cover the Cosmo or Elle model magazine and she was very sweet. They are a wonderful couple and I hope to see them again.
Maid was first and had a nice outrun and lift (0 points off) but then it began to go downhill after that. Lost half of the fetch points as she was running up their butt then looked up at me in surprise when I shouted at her at the fetch gates. The drive started quite nicely and put them through the gate, then they busted high and she kept driving them. After we got them back from their jaunt up the field, she got them lined up for the second panels but wouldn’t take the come bye to tuck them in so we went low and then she did a super huge banana leg to the pen. Refused to listen but drove then to her own line. Got the pen after some dancing about and timed out at the shed. The last trial she won a 53 or so class and this trial, she was the bad dog. Homework again!
Took off after my run as the ferry traffic is hours and I waited for a few before I got on and was headed home. On one road about 7 miles before home, a yearling black bear ran in front of my truck and trailer. There was no one else on the road and I have no idea why the bear decided to run in front of me but he did. I saw in a split second the two choices I would have; hit the bear and have him fly into my windshield and probably kill me or swerve. So swerve into the other lane (no traffic) and hit the brake. Trailer whipped about but the sway bars held the trailer firm while Bertha the truck dug in and clipped the bear on the back. He flipped into a somersault and ran off. Bertha parked on the side of the road and Matilda the trailer complained at the sidewinding over the roadway. I got out and my pacemaker was working overtime and I was dizzy. Went to see if the bear was dead in the forest but he or she had bolted off and Bertha’s bumper had the dirt removed but that was it. I sat until my heart rate was somewhat normal then drove the rest of the way home. I was rattled still and drank a glass of wine then went to bed while Getty unloaded for me. Talk about a scary situation! It’s ironic that it seemed like time did slow down so I could evaluate which situation I could do on hitting the bear.
Later that week, I worked on the brakes on the dogs and got them back going again (or so I thought). I had entered Reba, Billie in ranch and Nikki in PN so they got to work on picking off my friends and a fair bit of driving. Nikki worked great and still was speedy as ever.
Right after the Whidbey trial was the Eweful Acres Sheepdog trial the following weekend. I worked the girls to remind them of their stops as well as Reba, Billie and Nikki. It would be Reba’s and Billie first time at the post in Ranch. We had been picking off people setout crew (women) at home. They all worked well. I really have to think what whistles to use when I run Nikki and her flanks are opposite of Maid (and Tess, and my standard whistles).
I took a couple of days off so headed out the door on Thursday with the trailer in tow and loaded up on tons of food. I have no idea on why I buy so much food as I never eat it all but I guess just in case there is a famine, I am well prepared. I got to the trial early and got a prime spot and got set up and relaxed the rest of the day. Taking Maid, Nan, Nikki, Reba and Billie for a walk sure was an adventure. Nikki kept running off to visit everyone so she ended up on a leash to/from the dog run area. Reba had to jump on everyone she greeted and Billie was also a social butterfly. Now I know what a mom feels like when she goes to the toy store with a couple of small children…take your eyes off of them for a split second and *poof*! But by the end, Billie, Reba and Nikki figured out the routine, especially when we got back to the trailer, they got a treat.
I am sure that Maid and Nan lorded over Nikki, Billie and Reba that they had free access in the trailer so each night, Nikki, Billie and Reba also got some free time in the trailer. Of course, they all landed on the bed and would peer over my shoulder while I read my Kindle. They also figured out IF they were quiet and stayed in a down, they got treats. Reba was the best one of the gang on that!
On Friday, it was the Novice, Ranch, PN and Nursery classes. Nikki had done great at the last trial and she started off looking quite nice on her run. Outstanding outrun and stunning first leg, then it went to hell in a handbasket. Martin (Ireland) was the judge and I am sure he was thinking, “ Hum the crossdrive is not a banana shape and up the hill…” and I finally got Nikki to listen and salvage the last leg but time ran out. The debacle on the crossdrive cost us dearly and put us in the center of the standing. Other than that, the rest of her run was quite nice. I signed her up for a non-compete Open run on Saturday so I could work on her listening skills.
Ranch was a small outrun with the sheep being held by Ron (man) and that threw Reba and Billie for a loop. Billie ran up then suddenly realized the setout person was a man and a stranger. She busted into the sheep and chased one down to the setout, determined to bring it to me and ignored my recalls or down. She did turn the ewe but I had walked by that time. She normally is very obedient but this time refused to do anything I asked. I guess I need to have her pick off men and take her to fido’s as well. Reba ran out well and was very slow to pick up the sheep. A little offline and wouldn’t hold the pressure so the sheep ended up on the wrong side of the post at the turn. I debated on unwinding but Reba was worried so went on. We DQ at this point but got to use up out time. Nice first leg but at the turn I asked for a away flank and Reba refused so I asked harder. She did give it to me but went way wide and the sheep drifted on and she was off the pressure. I got her back and she put the sheep into the pen. Which was really good as we only have sorted sheep at the gate or put them in stall but not a free standing pen. Even though she got a DQ and didn’t like the pressure , she tried her hardest. You could tell she wasn’t sure about “that guy” at the top. I think I am going to make a man scarecrow at home for them to pick the sheep off. I have lots of homework to do with my young dogs as I thought they were ready but were not.
I had steak, shrimp and chicken kabobs for dinner so the dogs ate well on the leftovers. Reba and Billie (first timers at trials) soon figured out the “snackie routine”…go potty and come back for some tasty grilled leftover snackies. Maid, Nan and Nikki (old pros) already know to go potty quickly then race back to the trailer for their “snackies.”
Saturday was Open and Nursery. The course was pretty much standard. But we had sheep from another farm that proved to be light. Katahdins that took full advantage of the dogs. Maid ran out nice, and had a little wobble at the top before she settled the sheep so we lost 11 on her outwork. The drive was nice but she took the sheep for a scenic crossdrive so we got hit hard for that. She got the pen and shed and the shed was tough. But overall she did well enough to place 7th and got the much needed points towards the Finals. Nan ran later and was on the muscle. Nice outrun for a loss of ten but the drive…well, we missed the panels and went here and there and she refused to take a flank but kept holding the pressure side but we did get the pen and timed out in the shed. The driving at home is not an issue but at trial they want to do a scenic crossdrive so that will need to be fixed. Maid got $$ for her placing as well.
I ran Nikki at the end and she ran great. Nice outrun and the drive was tough and long but she rallied and did quite well. Got the pen but we timed out on the shed as she had no idea what I was asking her. She just started to learn shedding. She did well point wise and showed me that she can do the course and her heating was perfect. I wasn’t sure if she could do this tough course but she did it well and I look forward to our partnership next trial season in Open.
On Saturday night, we had the usual seafood potluck. It was sad as it was the last of the trials that Sue and George put on. This was the 25th trial and the 15th one for me. Had to believe that so long ago, that a raw Tess and I stepped out on the field and ran in Novice. I walked when she made the sheep fly but she showed she had the fire in her belly. Scott Glen was the judge and saw that passion and took her for winter training and the rest was history. Tess’s last trial was this this trial and she went out with a bag, winning the high combined (6 trial combined score) to get a homemade Border Collie quilt.
The handler all pooled their money to have a handmade quilt made for Sue and George as a thank you present. It was made by Lorrie Padmos-Crumpler and had photos form 25 years of trialing on it. We also had a thank you card with extra money so they could go out for a nice dinner. It was presented to them at after dinner and then everyone stood up and spoke on how they changed our lives or how we got started at their trial. Over half the people made their first debut at their trials. I appreciate all they have done for me over the years and consider them as my trial parents. Much thanks to them for their tireless efforts over the years.
Sunday was the fun day (NOT) in Open. At the end of the fetch you had a Maltese cross and had to get 3 of the sheep through. Then half of the first leg of the drive was blind, half of the cross drive was blind, then up a hill, through the second panel and then ALL of the sheep had to go through a chute while you stood at the post. It wasn’t easy and the sheep had no desire to go through the chute. Usually all but one would go through so you had to keep on trying and then a split. Which wasn’t easy as the sheep like to bunch up!
Maid was first and had nice outwork and held steady and got the three through the crosses, both directions. A bit pushy on the drive but the first leg was dead on, through the panel, nice drive coming out of the blind crossdrive, then disaster. She decided to take the sheep up higher on the hill, and it was an wonderful line BUT way off course. I got her back on line but that super long crossdrive killed the drive points. Just missed the cross panel but got the sheep online and perfect chute and lovely spilt. If she hadn’t do the extra drive and keep on the way she was going she would have place in the top 20% but the drive pushed us out of the standings. For some reason she got it into her head to do a long drive…more homework for me!
Nan ran in the middle of the day and it was hot, then cool. Nice and wide and good outwork, with only 9 points off, perfect cross work with no points off and her drive was a bit off on the crossdrive but not much and she lost only 7. Her chute work was superb and no points lost and a good spilt with only 2 off. She placed 7th and ran well. I keep forgetting she is deaf in one ear and losing hearing in the other ear (all old age related as she is almost 12). She was quite happy with her work and so was I. It made up for her notso stellar run on Saturday. Ironically both dogs placed 7th on each day. As soon as Nan was done, I got my rig ready and headed out. I was tired and the traffic was one big jam but I got home at a decent hour. So Nan had over 25 points towards the Finals and Maid had over 19 points. I entered both of them and it will be Nan’s last Finals. She is running well and is in superb physical shape but I want her to go out in style. She, of course, has a different opinion on retiring and now loves to helps with lessons on Sunday!
It was a good trial and sad to see the series end, Key Pen, Whidbey and Ewefull acres but Sue and George wanted to go to more trials and have less sheep to worry about when traveling. I know the feeling as I reduced my flock by 1/3 last year. Not to mention that hay prices has risen quite sharply as well.
Reba, Billie and Nikki got more trial miles on them. Nikki will be stepping into Nan’s shoes this year. It was a good series and I really learned a lot, made some fast friends and came up from a raw Novice to being able to hold my own in Open and able to qualify my two Open dogs. Maid, being one, who is not an easy dog to run but this year she does try hard for me.