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Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I have a feeling this might be a long post. So grab a drink.

I went out and worked the dogs tonight. I tied Echo up, and was using Zip to push the entire herd into my part of the pasture. I have my ewes with lambs by their side, all of Janie's weaned lambs, and a few of her ewes with lambs by their side. In other words, it is a very heavy flock.

Zip is the ultimate trustworthy dog, honest to the bone. He feels I am a large part of the equation and wants to please me no matter what it takes. He will go to the ends of the Earth for me if he thinks that would make me happy. What gets traded for that is a bit of power and some presence. With heavy sheep, he is able to work right on their rears and will flank back and forth and gather everyone in a nice neat group, and is respectful of the moms with the lambs and will "ask" them to move, rather than commanding it, and everyone eventually gets to my feet, and no one is upset or anything.

So I am standing there watching him work. I don't give him a bunch of commands -- he knows what he's doing. And it's all going along very nicely. Until ...

In flies a black and white blur. Little bitch.

Ok ... fine. I'll work you both.

The whistle goes in my mouth. She is much better on whistle now than off. I send her around the back and now I am working dogs in tandem. Their down whistles are different. That's pretty cool. For some reason, Zip will ignore her down whistle, and she will ignore his. Reminds me of a thread on the BC boards I saw recently. So this is working better than I thought. I figured out if I work just Echo, it gets done rather efficiently. Zip knows what he's doing, and this little black blur is just adding the presence behind it all and making things go faster. Alrighty then.

I get the whole flock into my 150' by 150' pen. I open the gate to the front part of the pasture and ask Zip to hang there. And he does. Because that's just who he is.

I turn around and Echo is all the way at the other end of the 125 with sheep plastered in the corner.


I call her off. Send her on an outrun. She runs out nicely, gets behind everyone, and I take the opportunity to work on her flanks. That works out awesome. The sheep have no desire to come to me, so I can send her around in circles both directions. She stresses a little, but it's keeping her thinking, keeping her wide, and keeping her from hanging off something.

I call her off and let her jump in the canal. I ask Zip in and basically have dogs switch positions.

I am working Zip, and in flies a black blur ... because that's who she is.

I switch dogs again, and I turn my back to see what she'll do. She takes off on an outrun. I down her and call her back. Bitch.

I swear I heard her call me, "Toots."

So for real, I send her. She goes out nicely, picks up the herd, is bringing them to me, when I notice part of the flock being left behind. I give her a look-back. She stays focused on the front flock. I walk toward her a bit, avoid her from flanking on the front flock, and with the back flock directly behind her, I give her a look-back. She has no idea what I'm talking about. So I change my body position, change my voice, change my position in relation to the front flock, but I cannot get her to look back at the flock behind her. I know if I want her to pick them up, all I have to do is give her the flank that would put them in her peripheral vision and she would flank out and go get them, but I am trying to teach her an actual look-back with them right behind her. So I move her 10' to her left, and give her a look back in hopes of her looking over her right shoulder so I can then give her an away, and she won't take it. She's still focused on the front flock. So I flank her a bit, ask for a down, and now she's set up such that the flock is behind her over her left shoulder. So I ask for a look back. She won't take it. All I would have to say is "Come bye," and the minute she squared the flank to work the front flock, she'd see the back flock, widen the flank and pick them all up, but that wasn't the lesson.

Short story long, I couldn't get her to understand what "look back" means. I stood directly between her and the front flock and tried to draw attention to the back flock by making it sound like something very exciting was back there, and she was having none of it. So ... I don't have enough tricks in my bag here. Note to self: Ask Dianne.

Anyway, it was nice working both dogs at once, and the difference between Zip and Echo is night and day. I still prefer Zip's style. I have nothing to worry about. I know when I send him, he's going to get them all, leave no one behind, and no one will be hurt or stressed out. I still enjoy working with Echo, though, as she poses a challenge for me. She makes me think about what I am doing. She's pushy, she thinks she knows it all, she wants to do it her way, and only when she decides I am part of the equation am I allowed to be part of it.


Oh and she's bleeding.

So am I.

My ex used to say, "Women bleed for five days straight and don't die. Scary."

Ok ... so I put a picture up of a cute little pup named Kodiak. That's going to be my son's new pup. Most of you know, I am waiting for Skar to come into season and I'll be getting a couple of pups back off of her. When Justin initially told me he wanted a pup, we had decided he would take one of the Skar pups. In the last month or two, it became pretty obvious to me that he wanted his "own" pup -- one not related to mom's, one not raised by mom, one that had nothing to do with mom. Justin had particular aesthetic requirements (as every 19-year-old would) ... and I thought the pedigree behind this would leave Justin's options open for whatever he decided to do with the pup. He grumbled something about working sheep now. We'll see. I'd love to have him come out and kick my butt on the trial field (not a feat -- by any stretch of the imagination -- but the trash-talking would be fun). Needless to say, he's very very excited. Today is his birthday. Last week, I got a $40 gift card for Secretary's Day to Zamzows. I went down there and bought a bunch of puppy toys, chews, a leash, a portable water dish, etc., came home, scrubbed one of the puppy crates clean, and put all of the puppy stuff in the crate and set it in Justin's room. He's due home soon. The puppy comes home early May.

So, back to honesty. I think I tend to be pretty honest (notice I didn't say "right" ... honest is not necessarily "right" ... LOL) and I'll stand behind my convictions ... normally even if they are wrong. I am occasionally accused of being "rude" or "mean," but to me, that's an ok trade. If I don't care about you or the issue at hand, I will say nothing. So if I am "honest" with you, it's because I give a shit enough to say something. I can't stand it when someone looks right at me and lies to my face to "preserve feelings." That's not preserving feelings. That's being phony. Please don't waste my time.

Then, of course, there is another form of honesty. There's a gal that blogs about everything under the sun ... including her opinions on other breeders and carefully explaining how she's different in that she doesn't breed just to breed, she doesn't plan litters for trial dogs, or for agility dogs, or for anything in particular. That's pretty honest! Perhaps there are times when one can be too honest! LOL. The part she forgets to mention is that the last time she had a litter, it wasn't planned at all! The female was maybe a year old and well, let's just say, the litter was very closely "linebred" ...

Funny thing that honesty, isn't it?

All in all, a very fun day. Doing brace work was a whole ton of fun! I'd like to try that out in the desert some time soon.

Happy tails,

Monday, April 27, 2009

The New Look

So ... what do you all think of the new look? I think I like the colors. It's going to be a work in progress. I will be changing quite a few things, but just a little at a time.

You know, it's kinda funny living in town. People occasionally knock at my door asking me if they can meet my sheep. It happened again tonight. One of my neighbors apparently has been wanting to come over and check it out for some time, so she finally did. She bought her camera, and I took naughty little Echo out and gathered up the sheep for my neighbor to "meet". She noticed that I have more black sheep this year than in previous years, and I explained to her that I am trying to start my black flock. We also talked about what black sheep are generally used for (one black per every 100 white) and she thought that was quite interesting. My pasture was completely flooded (regular irrigation day), and Echo knew I was not going to get after her so she decided to be a bit naughty, have a little "whoo hoo" here and there, and not listen as well as she would have otherwise. It was ok. We got the job done. I was able to snatch up one of the little black lambies for her to pet and take pictures of. Echo got to play in the water afterward, and the sheep were none the worse for wear.

I also got a call from the lady from the historical society asking us if we would do the demos again this year. I told her we'd love to! She's going to see if she can round us up a PA system so Colleen can be our commentator! Don't worry, Colleen, I'll hold the mike while you're working Reena. ;-)

Happy tails,

"Under Construction"

Katy and I were driving out to the Leaf yesterday when we drove right under a tree that had a couple of hawks sitting next to each other in the branch right over the street. So I stopped and backed up, which scared off the male, who flew to the back of the tree.

Here's the female.

She wasn't nuts about us being there. By now, I had put my camera together and was out of my truck snapping away like a crazy woman.

I wanted a photo of her in-flight, so I was taking one small step at a time toward the tree. She took off ...

... And landed on a telephone pole just a little down the road ...

The male quickly joined her ...

... and took off ...

That was awesome for me to see. I guess it's something I'll never take for granted because it's not something I grew up seeing in Dumont, NJ, and it's something you sure as hell don't find in L.A. Idaho rocks!

So, off to the Leaf we go!

Doesn't that look great now that the oh-so-tacky red front door is gone? Katy and her husband, Eric, are doing an awesome job fixing this place up. All new doors, all new windows, and now, even a new glass sliding door that over looks the pasture!

Zeke is never sure what to make of me, but can't help but come over and let me pet him because he knows I will.

Here is the master behind it all ... Eric.

There was a lovely lone tulip in the front of the house.

Here's the view from the driveway.

At some point, I will do some comparison photos from the day they bought it, through all the changes, and then the final product.

Awesome job, you guys!

Happy tails,

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A new favorite

This is a female dark morph Swainson's Hawk. I have more photos in this series, but they will have to wait until I get some sleep. Enjoy.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

A great shot ...

Quite often, when I got over to Janie's house, I give her wonderful husband, Kirk, a hard time about anything I can find. A couple of times, lately, I've teased him about his camera (he has a 40D ... I have the 50D) and always told him that it doesn't matter what kind of camera he has, photography takes talent. Ha ha and we laugh it off.

However, in looking through some old photos, I found a gem ... a photo I have always really loved ... and the photographer was none other than Kirk. So until I take a better shot, I should probably shut my trap.

Without further adieu, here is Julie Woods (Christensen?) at one of our AHBA trials a couple of years ago.

Happy tails,

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Jag had a good time yesterday running around in the pasture, in and out of the water, and rolling in the grass.

He's more sore this morning than I've ever seen him, and that's after a full dose of Rimadyl last night. :-(


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The End of the Line

Jaenne called me today and asked me if I could watch her dogs. She had a boring business dinner to go to. I wasn't doing anything so I agreed. We stuck the five dogs (Jag, Zip, Echo, Mo and Kip) in the dog run, and out to the pasture I went. Clipped tons of wire, removed some fibertape, pulled t-posts, neatly stacked the 16' panels and ... voila! ... the round pen is no longer. I would like to take a few of those 16' panels and make a few shade huts for the sheep and the dogs. I can't believe how quickly the weather got so hot.

I watered the grass seed I planted earlier in the week, and also watered the flower bed, the seed starts, and front yard. Everything is looking awesome!

Afterwards, I broiled a couple of steaks and heated up some green beans for dinner. I know it doesn't sound all that yummy, but the steaks were cooked perfect, and I was starving.

While the steaks were cooking, I threw a bean soup (or whatever you call it) together and threw it in the crock pot, on low, for a gazillion hours. I made it more like a kitchen sink soup. Had about 6 different cans of beans (white, kidney, red, black, whatever), a can of corn, a can of chili, a can of chopped tomatoes, and whatever leftover (very hot) salsa I had from the very last of the New Mexico chili peppers Katy gave me. So now ... I'M OUT! I always felt ok because I was saving that one frozen bag of chili peppers, but now I've gone and used it and I have NO MORE! NADA! ZILCHO! ZIP! ADIOS! BYE BYE! I'm having withdrawals already.

... deep breath ...

Ok ok ...

I also made a loaf of soda bread to go with the soup. So I am sure my house will smell all kinds of yummy in the morning. Stop on my way to work and get some sour cream and I'll be set!

Ann is coming over tomorrow night to show me how to use the clippers so we can clip the bellies of all the dogs (well, all the boys anyway ... Echo's belly is fine).

Saw a few birds at my bird feeder when I got home from work today. I need more bird feeders.

Happy tails,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Craig - The Story of a Dog

I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I did!

Documents the training of a sheepdog. Filmed by Sid Atkinson in 1946 at Ryecroft Farm, Dore, Sheffield. Narrated by Richard Farnsworth in 2009.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Happy tails,

Spring has sprung!

Was doing some work around the house and figured I'd snap a few pix.

Here's my planter. I posted a picture from a couple of weeks ago where my daffodils were blooming. Well, they need deadheading, and now my tulips have bloomed.

My apples trees are in full bloom. Gorgeous, aren't they?

I planted some pumpkin seeds, filled my hummingbird feeder, and am off to the store to get some regular bird seed and a new sprinkler.

Happy tails,


Remember the pictures of the puppies I posted a couple of weeks ago? Well, there's updated photos posted HERE.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

The "Couch Cross!"

Well, what a fun time! The day was gorgeous, although it started out a bit windy this morning. The minute the wind stopped, it warmed up pretty quick.

Don and Dawn Marie served coffee and hot water for tea, and I brought muffins.

Don is in the middle of lambing, so we got to see tons of little lambies running amok or just basking in the sun.

Also had a couple of very cute calves (twins! apparently you don't see that too often)

It was a nice small group: Jaenne & Mo, Dianne K. & Usher, Katy & Jen, Ann & Levi, and me & Echo -- or when Echo is naughty -- Zip!

Dianne K. & Don Couch:

First, we worked on the freestanding pen. The focus was reading the sheep and the intricacies of their body language. The set we started out with was very very flighty. Jaenne & Mo did a nice job of working them and got everyone to relax. Then they got to work on penning. This was the toughest pen of the day, of course, because these sheep had never been penned before.

Usher waiting his turn.

Then Katy and Jen ...

(If you're thinking that looks like Shannahan's Jen, you're right.)

And here's Don's dog, Cash.

I missed snapping pics of Ann & Levi. I went up to the truck, put my camera away and grabbed Echo. Turns out she didn't care if I was part of the equation, so I switched her out for Zip. He did a very nice job.

Lunchtime came ... I was responsible for providing lunch. Costco to the rescue! Turkey wraps, potato salad, chips w/cottage cheese, pickles and cookies! Very little clean up -- especially since we also fed Don's two helpers -- a couple of strapping young cowboys there to put Don's hay in the loft.

Back out to the field and everyone (but me ... hee hee) assembled the "Couch Cross" ...

Don's LGD, Jessica.

The participants patiently waiting ...

Drumroll please ....

Presenting ...

Don and the infamous "Couch Cross!"

Up first, Jaenne and Mo:


You know how they say a picture is worth 1,000 words? My favorite shot of the day:

Don's open dog, Ali.

I could hear off in the distance someone ask if I was taking pictures of the weeds. I was playing with the focus. See? Same shot:

Next up was Katy and Jen. The sheep were pretty squirrely at first.

But it all calmed down.


Playing with the focus again ... I love this type of stuff.

Dianne and Usher did great also!

Made sure to get some shots of Ann's Levi this time.

I ran Echo last. She decided that perhaps she should include me, and she did a very nice job.

Everyone had a great time! Don, thanks again for doing this for us during a very busy time of the season for you. And thank you to Dawn Marie for helping with backup. We look forward to doing this again soon!

Jodi Darling