Sunday, April 24, 2011

Two Very Different Stockdogs

The other day, the cows were ambling around on a grass tasting tour of the north pasture. These were the momma cows, their babies and the yearling heifers, it was a lazy, sunny day (a rarity this time of year), and Ho Dog and Gem the BC were hangin' out in the swing with me. That is, until the cow convoy meandered by. Then, the REAL difference between the old Aussie with almost 11 years of experience and the 1 1/2 year old Border collie with not quite a year of experience became very, very obvious. Two different breeds. Two different outlooks on working. And the cows ambled on, totally oblivious, tasting and comparing notes while the kids played in the sunshine, chasing birds and snacking on the clover.

Gem the BC. If you click on the pix, you may spot the cow convoy to her right down in the pasutre, thru the tulips. She spotted them, and she didn't even have to get on the blog to do it

The reason we have good, strong gates and latches is obvious here

Couldn't convince me to open the gate, so back to study the situation some more

Ho Dog, the old Aussie, in the same position the entire time Gem was working back and forth between gate and grass. He occasionally opened an eye to make sure that those cows were still somewhere in the same zipcode, but otherwise, why waste all that sunshine when you know they aren't going anywhere they aren't supposed to go? Thus, you see the difference between two very different stockdogs. One, the old man, knows those cows are just fine; the other, the young BC, just KNOWS that any moment now, those cows are going to up and charge the electric fence and escape unless she gets there first and stops them

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ho's Morning Routine

Roll outta bed. Go outside, do your business. Wait for mom to get dressed. Walk out to the barn, examining every poo pile and blade of grass. Sprinkle the grass as needed. Upon entering the barn, let the barn cats know you've arrived. Get up in the puttputt because you just never know, for the first time ever mom might actually GO somewhere with it in the morning. And harrass the Gangsta Girls from the safety of the seat.

Doesn't get much more pathetic than that

The best way to handle ornery livestock like the Gangsta Girls. Love the expression on his face - don't forget to click the pix!

Jan's First Working Lesson

Tuesday saw the start (for us, anyway) of the new training season with stockdog trainer Dave Viklund. He comes down every Tuesday to the Eugene area to train a group of dogs and handlers, then on his way back home every other Tuesday, he stops at the ranch to work with Gem, Sybil and Jan. It was both Jan and Sybil's first actual session with Dave, and Don was really interested to see how Jan would work for Dave. We were mostly testing the two youngsters to see if they were ready to start training yet. The assessment was that Sybil was ready, Jan, not quite yet. She still needs some obedience work so she doesn't think that she doesn't have to listen to her handler, plus her hindquarters are still pretty weak from the accident a few months ago. But Dave feels that absent those two things, Jan is very ready to train, very willing and talented. Don was really happy to pick up some tips from Dave on working with Jan to get her ready, and Jan was happy to be able to work something smaller than Don's cows for a change. Sybil did well also, but she too has some of mom's 'Princess' attitude, as does Jan. Meaning that if she wants to do it HER way and not the handler's way, she pouts when the handler doesn't allow her to do it her way. That's something we'll be working on, you betcha.

Before we could start, someone had to get the sheep out of their comfy pasture and into the working arena, and then sort out new mommas and their babies. I started off with the Old Man, but the long haul from the bottom of the pasture, with cranky mommas and bouncy lambs, was just a bit too much for the old guy. I had to take him back and finish up with Gem the BC. But a nice day for a stroll, eh?

Jan, with Dave at the helm, on her first approach. Dave has a yellow flag to help Jan understand that flossing is NOT part of stock work

Jan does love her heads

That ram is gonna learn a hard lesson if he doesn't give in to Jan. He did, without a fight

Corners and gates are hard for young dogs with little patience, but Jan actually didn't do too bad

Yes, I know - the weird bad poodle haircut looks pretty awful

An example of 'I wanna do it MY way' versus Dave saying 'No, please do it my way, okay?'

Jan is trying to let Dave know that she can get those heads, no problem, just let the damn flag thing go, okay?

A little grumpy, but doing what she was asked. Still showing very strong eye on the young wether with the twitchy ear who's thinking of making a break for it. He changed his mind quickly

Nice job picking up the stragglers

I see flag waving as Jan decides to discipline Ricky Bobby the ram for no good reason other than he looked sideways at her

A bit fast, but nicely done

Using eye and body position, all natural to her, to keep the heads from tipping out on the lead outside wether

Getting a little rowdy in the corner. Remember, this is difficult for young dogs with little or no patience, and she's actually not doing as bad as she could be

Packwalk in the Park

Every once in a while, we take a different packwalk, and yesterday morning, we crossed the street and went around Bellfountain Park a coupla times. Several nice photo ops presented themselves, so don't forget to click the pix to enjoy them fully.

One of our native wildflowers, the fawn lily. They grow in drifts that look like yellow bonnets floating above the grass

The back side of the park, the part I call the cathedral for its hushed feeling and tall, dignified firs. You can see some drifts of fawn lilies there

The front side of the park, and the gang posed (mostly) on an old stump. In the background, you can see more fawn lilies as well as a portion of the old red barn. Daddy Hoke (lying down), momma Cricket, baby Sybil and Gem the Border collie poised for flight

Gem fled the scene before I could take a second shot

Silly Sybil

Sybil at 8 going on 9 months. Where DOES the time go!!

No, I didn't forget to rotate the picture. She's sitting at my feet looking up at me

Trying, and failing, to look dignified beyond her months

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cutests Mugs You'll Ever See

Nothin' cuter, I guarantee it. Don't forget to click on the pix!

Liza, with Princess Joy in the feederbunk as usual

Liza checks out Kitty Boy


Princess Joy comes in for her closeup

Joy and Kitty Boy get some face time

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sybil Sees the Sea

Okay, so technically, it's the Pacific OCEAN, not sea, but that didn't work with the title, so there. Dale and I took the day off to go to the coast for a burger, and since Sybil is now 8 months old and still hasn't seen the ocean, we took her and Gem along for the ride. Dale's birthday is tomorrow, so this was a sort of early birthday present for him, as he's got things to do tomorrow, guy things, like gun shows and such. And we couldn't have picked a prettier day for it, that's for sure. After months of rain and grey skies, frost and early spring snow, today was a day made for taking off. We headed south to Hwy 126 and then west to Florence for a leisurely drive up the 101 to Newport, with a photo stop at the Heceta Head Light and with a stop in Waldport at the Big Wheel Drive Inn for some awesome tater tots in the shape of stars and a to-die-for fish sandwich. Just before Newport, we stopped at our favourite glass blowers and I picked out a new, wild vase. We also drooled over about everything in the shop, as usual. But, as we have dogs, the gorgeous, deep blue, very tall floor vase we both fell for was out of the question. But, it was sure pretty to look at. Then, thru Newport to Hwy 20, and head out east for home. A wonderful day indeed, and Sybil finally got to see her coast and ocean.
Sybil and Gem check out the folks from Idaho, thinking they might have treats of some sort they'd want to share with two cute girls

Gem's given up, but Sybil is still hopeful, and thinking that she's lookin' mighty cute
Heceta Head Light and the Keeper's Cottage, one of the most photographed lights in the world, or so we've been told

Gem's ready for the warmth of the Jellybean, while Sybil's still workin' the crowd for treats with the cute act

At the Big Wheel Drive Inn, looking north on 101 at the Alsea Bay Bridge

Sunday, April 3, 2011

He Can Still Get'er Done

Operation 'Get The Wethers Out Of Pony's Pen And Into The Working Arena' commenced this afternoon. I needed them in there so that I could get them wormed and hooves trimmed before hauling them to the sale on Saturday, so Ho and I went to work. It was a tricky operation, not simply a 'move them from one pasture to the working arena'. First off, we had to get them away from Dingbat the Wonder Horse and his not-so-evil minion, Pepperpot the goat. Then, convince them to go out the opening where there were previously two very nasty electric ropes strung across. From there, it was a hundred yards of no-mans land to the gate to the arena, thru the open pasture. And poor Ho, being the old guy, doesn't exactly have the lightning speed and reflexes he once had plus he and Tommy, the former ram, have a little thing going between them. Thus, sometimes Ho tends to fixate on Tommy and forget about Rufus, Spot and Jubal. Which, he did. First, it was a job to get them away from Pony. They long ago figured out if they went and hid under a large animal, such as a horse, cow or bull, that it was very difficult for the dogs to get them out from under said large animal. It took a bit of trick work on Ho's part, but he finally broke them loose from Pony and then he went into Tommy Mode, and he and Tommy took a little stroll around the south pasture, while the other three went back to hiding under Pony for a bit. Tommy finally tore thru the two electric wires and one electric tape to get back with his homies, and we started the whole operation over again. This time, Ho got them all out thru the actual opening, not the downed fence, and again, went for a stroll around the south pasture. Tommy had apparantly told the others that Roar and Ruffie were just down the hill, eating, because he lead the charge in that direction. From my vantage point (at Pony's pen gate), I couldn't see a thing but could hear Ho barking. Then, Roar roaring and Ruffie mooing. Up and over the hill I went, where such a sight to behold met my eyes. Ho had the sheep under control, but they chose poorly by trying to hide under Ruffie the Senior Cow. She simply started helping Ho by bowling sheep every time they tried to hide under her, and finally, they gave up and gave in to Ho Dog. He then drove them down the hill, holding the far outside line to prevent them from heading back into Pony's pen, which they so desperately wanted to get back into, and finally, Ho forced them thru the gate into the working arena. And, just for good measure, he put them thru the course again (Course 'B', I believe it was). By then, he was pretty well done in and went back into the south pasture to hit the stocktank. A tough job, but the old man got'er done, just as he usually does. And I got to rebuild Pony's pen. A fair trade, I'd say.
Four very offended wethers

The Old Man still got it Ho's just off camera, holding the boys together
Taking a well deserved rest in the daisies after a dunk in the tank

Friday, April 1, 2011

Daffy Ho

Spring sprung for a day today; we even managed a roasty toasty 66 at the ranch! Of course, the clouds are already in for the night, the wind came up and it's now 52, with tomorrow supposed to barely nudge the mid-40's, but that's spring in the PNW. In the meantime, Ho poses with a gaggle of beauties, and I brought a teeny tiny bit inside to enjoy.
At least 6 different varieties of daffodils; muscari and a dramatic deep purple hyacinth and a striking pink and white hyacinth, which add both drama and intense fragrance to the light fragrance of the daffs. The colour is not as it appears in the picture, as the double daffs in the centre vase are actually pink and white