Sunday, December 11, 2016

Live and learn


Live and learn


     My theme for the past year.  I feel like we have enrolled at the USBCHA University.  This year was indeed a learning.... and living year.

Feist watching Joni and Cap
Kingston 


     We went on the road at the end of the season to do a bit more living and learning.  The dogs and I met up with Amanda, Barbara, and Bev at SoHo.  I only watched the last day, but it was amazing.  My good friend and DHS volleyball coach met up with me to watch the final day.  




Dorey sporting gold
     After Soldier Hollow, I fell in line with my dogs and rig to Meeker.  We picked up another passenger Mr. Monty Man that day.  




      Bev showed me the ropes around Meeker.  Including the famous statue in down town, as well as the practice field.  It was great to have at least one practice before running the Monty dog. 

Barbara Ray and Stella Meeker
Jag the younger


Watching opening Meeker Ceremonies
from the top
of the bluff


Beautiful Meeker
and the top hands

     Back in the convoy to Carbondale.  This would be my second time at Carbondale, CO.  Excited to be there.  Happy to be having two kicks at the can.  Overwhelmingly happy for little Zola to be running on the nursery field. (that's another story).

The crew

Zola, Amanda, and Mt Sopris

Monty and I



     Nationals this year was a very good learning experience.  Feist and I made it to the semi-final round.  In the semis, we had a nice run going, and then I made a bad call on my whistle timing and we ended with letters.  But I was so super proud of the 27 pound Feist dog.  She more than held up her end of the 50%.  I had a wake up call for my next set of learning issues. 

    On finals day, I watched in amazement at the top handlers ran intently for 25 minutes.  Several hands were running two dogs on that day.  Yes, I have watched the national finals many times on that last telling day.  I have never remotely considered getting ready or preparing for it mentally or physically myself. Another curtain call. More homework.

Feist overlooking Strang Ranch


     That was an amazing learning journey.  Reading books, watching videos, or attending clinics could not have illuminated my mind more.


Point Pleasant SDT


     Back to the drawing board.  New trial season.  Running an old pro Monty, teaching me the subtle
points.  Feist my solid good partner turning 5 years.  Tane' my last years nursery dog 3 years old, soon to be four starting to get his feet under him.  Jag my next years nursery prospect, fun and eager to learn.

Feist Hopland SDT

Winter fun trial
Bonanza, OR
Tane'

     Still working/managing the practice at home.  Fielding a land and livestock business as well.  Practicing when I can.  Learning at every turn.  Living for every moment.  We are looking forward to the new year.  Great opportunities to have fun with friends. A clean canvas to start my new painting, the art that one finds commingled with your sheepdog partner.  Amazing chances to breath in the beauty and magic of what we call sheepdogging.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sheepdog journey

And the story continues

      It has been a long time since I have blogged. For a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is the ever elusive time.  It seems like I am hitting the busiest time of my life.  I feel like with the passing of my Mother, that my life lesson is, 'to live...fully'. I am hitting my stride - or trying to. I reflect only briefly backwards of the time I may have squandered walking up a path designed by someone else.


     A very good friend of mine several years ago gave me the analogy that your dog running parallels how things are 'going' in your life.  Thus the periodic reference to the 'sheepdog journey'. I don't entirely buy into it.  However, when your life is cluttered and your energy is like the hoarder households kitchen, sure enough it's tough to find the focus needed to hold up your end of the partnership with your dog. I have witnessed very good people who go through rough life times and take it out on those around them, including their dogs.  I have to admit on more than one occasion I have worked my butt off- felt like I have moved heaven and earth-to make it out to the quiet field with sheep and my dogs.  Once there I would find myself exhausted/cranky/angry/distracted----and as soon as  I recognized it, I just loaded everyone up and went for a walk or headed home. That baggage is not theirs to carry. It's not their job to fix it.  It's my job to bring my 50% of the partnership to the table.



    I am into my third year at the Open-level.  I made the jump fairly immediately after getting the Feist dog who was accomplished, but still only two years old.  It's been a huge learning curve. Tall. Steep.  With limited time and limited funds, time management has become the key.



     I have come to terms with some truths for our current situation. There are two times of year that we take time off. When it is too hot to work and when it's too cold. In the winter when it plummets below zero, I don't even try. Sometimes we get an abundance of snow/ice and training is based on safety of the stock and the dogs.  It is good for the minds of the dogs to have the break.  In summer, the days are long and hot in the high mountain desert. I have come to terms with four-something in the morning. The summer season is brutal. No works at lunch. No practice after work or in the evenings-too damn hot! Endurance training comes in the form of swimming and high elevation hikes/runs.  Runs happen when it's cool enough in areas with no fox tails (grass seeds) or rattlesnakes.



     There are several times of year that fields are not available, or very tricky to find. We juggle with ranchers who are actually making a living. We routinely play second fiddle to irrigated fields and fields that are growing hay for the winter months.  Hauling out to BLM land is always an option, but not in rattlesnake season. During these times working in the arena or in the cattle yards affords a chance to practice at hand work.  Shedding and penning practice that makes sense to the dogs. We have chores to do here. "Don't make a wreck.... Or you will have to fix it."


     Sheep. The most important element of all to the sheepdog.  I still don't have the perfect answer yet.  The good thing is that we get experience working on different sheep.  My hope of consistency is still in dream works.  I have tried several very inventive experiments, that were not the solution.  We are lucky to have good exposure to fresh range ewes when available. My hope is that the dogs will be specialist on the toughest sheep and smart-pliable to lighter farm flocks. Tricky tricky tricky.


     We are starting to team up.  I have to be a different 50% for each different team.  The balance is different for each of my teams. Learning strengths and weaknesses. My whistles, which are still not good, are improving and are being used differently for each dog. My timing is getting better. My feel and stock reading is starting to improve. My absorption of the flood of free advice is starting to become more discerning. Don Miguel Ruizs' 5th agreement 'be skeptical, but learn to listen'. I am trying to accumulate a tool box I can reach into when the unexpected manifests. "That didn't work, I think I'll try this".


     With the commitment of the Feist dog, I also made a promise to hold up my end of the bargain.  I wasn't really that aware of what that would mean.  Contributing back to the sport that had so graciously accepted me was another learning curve I was innocently ignorant of in the beginning. In the past 2.5 years I have learned to judge N, PN, and Nursery trials.  We have committed to putting on a first rate sheepdog trial every year, with all the work that entails.  I have done some set outs, scribing, hazing, and DL exhausting.  I have met with sponsors.  I have sat with the general public to explain and answer mundane questions.  I have admired the twinkle in the eyes of the spectator or the novice handler that are also drawn to the magic of the sport.



     Over and over, I have yearned to retire and farm/ranch full time.  In my dreamy mind I think it is the only way I can realistically make significant progress in this sport.  In my ever so realistic nature, I know that the shift in my sheepdogging progress truthfully occurred when I quit seeing all the things I didn't have or couldn't do....and focused on the attributes that I did have available.  I have to run to the beat of my own drummer, just like in every other aspect of my life.  Keep it positive and love the journey.





Sheepdog journey

And the story continues

      It has been a long time since I have blogged. For a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is the ever elusive time.  It seems like I am hitting the busiest time of my life.  I feel like with the passing of my Mother, that my life lesson is, 'to live...fully'. I am hitting my stride - or trying to. I reflect only briefly backwards of the time I may have squandered walking up a path designed by someone else.


     A very good friend of mine several years ago gave me the analogy that your dog running parallels how things are 'going' in your life.  Thus the periodic reference to the 'sheepdog journey'. I don't entirely buy into it.  However, when your life is cluttered and your energy is like the hoarder households kitchen, sure enough it's tough to find the focus needed to hold up your end of the partnership with your dog. I have witnessed very good people who go through rough life times and take it out on those around them, including their dogs.  I have to admit on more than one occasion I have worked my butt off- felt like I have moved heaven and earth-to make it out to the quiet field with sheep and my dogs.  Once there I would find myself exhausted/cranky/angry/distracted----and as soon as  I recognized it, I just loaded everyone up and went for a walk or headed home. That baggage is not theirs to carry. It's not their job to fix it.  It's my job to bring my 50% of the partnership to the table.



    I am into my third year at the Open-level.  I made the jump fairly immediately after getting the Feist dog who was accomplished, but still only two years old.  It's been a huge learning curve. Tall. Steep.  With limited time and limited funds, time management has become the key.


     I have come to terms with some truths for our current situation. There are two times of year that we take time off. When it is too hot to work and when it's too cold. In the winter when it plummets below zero, I don't even try. Sometimes we get an abundance of snow/ice and training is based on safety of the stock and the dogs.  It is good for the minds of the dogs to have the break.  In summer, the days are long and hot in the high mountain desert. I have come to terms with four-something in the morning. The summer season is brutal. No works at lunch. No practice after work or in the evenings-too damn hot! Endurance training comes in the form of swimming and high elevation hikes/runs.  Runs happen when it's cool enough in areas with no fox tails (grass seeds) or rattlesnakes.



     There are several times of year that fields are not available, or very tricky to find. We juggle with ranchers who are actually making a living. We routinely play second fiddle to irrigated fields and fields that are growing hay for the winter months.  Hauling out to BLM land is always an option, but not in rattlesnake season. During these times working in the arena or in the cattle yards affords a chance to practice at hand work.  Shedding and penning practice that makes sense to the dogs. We have chores to do here. "Don't make a wreck.... Or you will have to fix it."


     Sheep. The most important element of all to the sheepdog.  I still don't have the perfect answer yet.  The good thing is that we get experience working on different sheep.  My hope of consistency is still in dream works.  I have tried several very inventive experiments, that were not the solution.  We are lucky to have good exposure to fresh range ewes when available. My hope is that the dogs will be specialist on the toughest sheep and smart-pliable to lighter farm flocks. Tricky tricky tricky.


     We are starting to team up.  I have to be a different 50% for each different team.  The balance is different for each of my teams. Learning strengths and weaknesses. My whistles, which are still not good, are improving and are being used differently for each dog. My timing is getting better. My feel and stock reading is starting to improve. My absorption of the flood of free advice is starting to become more discerning. Don Miguel Ruizs' 5th agreement 'be skeptical, but learn to listen'. I am trying to accumulate a tool box I can reach into when the unexpected manifests. "That didn't work, I think I'll try this".


     With the commitment of the Feist dog, I also made a promise to hold up my end of the bargain.  I wasn't really that aware of what that would mean.  Contributing back to the sport that had so graciously accepted me was another learning curve I was innocently ignorant of in the beginning. In the past 2.5 years I have learned to judge N, PN, and Nursery trials.  We have committed to putting on a first rate sheepdog trial every year, with all the work that entails.  I have done some set outs, scribing, hazing, and DL exhausting.  I have met with sponsors.  I have sat with the general public to explain and answer mundane questions.  I have admired the twinkle in the eyes of the spectator or the novice handler that are also drawn to the magic of the sport.



     Over and over, I have yearned to retire and farm/ranch full time.  In my dreamy mind I think it is the only way I can realistically make significant progress in this sport.  In my ever so realistic nature, I know that the shift in my sheepdogging progress truthfully occurred when I quit seeing all the things I didn't have or couldn't do....and focused on the attributes that I did have available.  I have to run to the beat of my own drummer, just like in every other aspect of my life.  Keep it positive and love the journey.





Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tane' Mahuta


Tane'






      Tane' Mahutah.  Pronounced "tawn-ay".  Named by Sandra his owner.  Tane' is 'boy' in the native New Zealand tongue.  Boy is Monty's nick-name.  Sandra has had a long love affair with Monty, Tane's sire. He is not my dog.

     It was circumstance that Monty stopped by when my young dog Val was receptive on his way to the National Finals in Klamath Falls.  It was my first litter of pups.  Val is a nice Helsley bred dog whom I was starting the learning curve with at the time.  Tane' was delivered in my master bathroom.

     This picture I snapped and sent to Sandra to let her know that her Monty had arrived.
     

     Sandra and Tane' started their working relationship right away.



If I would have put forth a tiny bit of effort, I think his ears 
would have been pricked.
But we didn't care.



     The goal for Tane' was to be a work/ranch dog.  It was never to be a trial dog.  Sandra did all his formative sheep exposure young dog manners work.  He was a nice mix of very thoughtful, very biddable, sensitive and full of presence.  I started him on sheep.  Haley helped him work through a phase I was over my head on.  The rest of his training was either done with Sandra doing work that made sense to him, or with me out in the big field.





     During his training, I was very busy learning with my open dog Feist.  Tane' is completely different than Feist.   Feist was teaching me.  I was teaching Tane'.  Tane' was so much fun to train.  He was a sponge.  What he learned one day, he would remember if it made sense, and we would build on the next day. Haley was making sure I didn't screw up Sandra's work dog.


     I packed Tane' along to trials if they had a nursery class and I could spare an extra day.  I wanted all dogs to just be like Feist, so I didn't have to learn more methods myself.  Tane' is nothing like Feist.


     About two weeks before Zamora and Sonoma, Sandra and Tane' helped Ted with shearing.  San was helping shift a good number of ewes and didn't see the LGD protector.  The big white dog took offense to Tane' and nailed him a good one.  Ted put the dog away and Sandra and Tane' finished the job at hand.

     I, on the other hand, was NOT HAPPY.  That night I sutured and reattached four of this shoulder muscles back in place.  Installed several drains.  Very very very relieved that he survived the assault, I kissed his chances of running in the upcoming trials good-bye.



     Very much like his Mom-Val, Tane' is a mix of power and sensitivity.  I had to keep him down to heal.  Here he is running in Zamora with his right shoulder still healing.  Didn't miss a step.


Love this one. Serious but thoughtful in Idaho


Photo by Morgen




Photo by Gloria

Photo by Gloria

Alturas USBCHA National Finals

     I am so proud of this 'boy'.  Tane', that will forever trial as Tane (like Zane).  We both had a big rookie mistake that cost our team in a big way.  But we recovered and he put a run together that I will always be proud of.  One of the judges took the time to talk to us post run, and I was quite proud.


Tane'


In the off season we are starting our open career 
together.  Another set of learning objectives.
He will be so much
fun.