02/07/2014 It’s Not the Groundhog’s Fault

Spring is on the way. It will arrive as it does every year, when Mother Nature decides it's time. Until then…brrr-effing-brrrrr. Dang cabin fever is getting to everyone. It's probably even working under Phil's fur. Doesn't matter what the weather is, though--wind, snow, sub-zero--chores still need to get done on a daily basis. As I mentioned before, I had been taking Grady and Quinn with me. They double-team the sheep, push them off the gate, and try to keep them off me while I put the hay out. A couple days ago, Jig's usual game of Frisbee got pre-empted by external forces. I decided, as long as she was with me and needed something to do, I'd let her help with chores. I admit, my brain may have been frozen. For those of you who haven't been around dogs and livestock, I want to point out that different dogs have very different

01/22/2014 Not Again?!!?

So, it's brain-numbingly cold again. The kind of cold that freezes your nostrils shut, and makes your eyeballs scream at you for leaving only them uncovered, while the rest of your face enjoys the blissful warmth of entrapped breath. Having been born and raised in Wisconsin, I don't often whine about winter. I more often whine about heat and humidity in the summer. But this winter…it's starting to wear. Don't get me wrong, like Quinn, I love snow. I don't mind crisp nights when the snow crunches underfoot. But this lovely Polar Vortex thingie…it is one huge bucket of suck. (Ha! Got to use that in a Blog post, too. Awesome.) The dogs are going absolutely buggy. They can't be out for too long--though they'd stay out until they were frozen solid if I gave them the option. There's no working them in these temps, except to do chores, and then

01/17/2014 Look Who’s Back

Hard to believe it's been a year since I last posted on this blog. Bet you thought it was never going to happen again. It's been a busy year, that's for sure. I don't think anyone wants to read through a complete recap of my 2013, so I won't bore you with that. Plus, I'm not sure I'd remember everything. It had its highs and lows, as they all do. The best high was finally realizing my lifelong dream of becoming a published author -- which just goes to show, it's never too late. I think that made my mom's day as well. If you want to know about that, you can visit my author blog My Random Muse or stop by my Facebook Page . The lowest low was losing Shaine at the end of October. Something I still ache over. What does 2014 hold? Who the heck knows? I

01/08/2013 Weekend Training Review

The bad part about three days of working dogs, like all good things, is that we have to stop. Friday night's work session was a bit of a disappointment. Shaine didn't want to work at all, Jig was not her normal Rock Star self, and Quinn was . . . well, okay. It was clear, as far as Quinn was concerned, I'd been lax again. Saturday and Sunday, however, were much better days. *Whew!* With Quinn, I intended to work on driving and firming up our inside flanks. Well, we all know the time worn saying about plans. Sometimes, when you want to work on one thing, something else crops up, and you realize that's your core problem. With Quinn, it goes back to his foundations -- or lack thereof. We spent a great deal of our time on sheep working on our flanks. Someone let him get it into his head that

01/02/2013 Looking Ahead Winter Recap

Happy 2013, everyone! I don't do the whole New Year's thing. No partying till midnight. No resolutions. It's pretty much just another day around here, except that I have to remember to change the date when I write a check. And really, who writes checks any more?? The critters don't know the year has flipped. They know its winter. Maybe their year doesn't really flip until spring, when lambs are born and everything starts to bud and grow, and the sun takes on a warmer cast even on the cold days. <shrug> Who knows. January does mean, though, that I'm looking ahead to what I have planned for the year and trying to figure out how I'm going to accomplish it. The biggy on my radar this year (again) is getting some cattle for the dogs. It's very problematic and is a huge item on my list. Made even huger, in

11/05/2012 Sometimes, A Girl Just Needs a Job

Right before I switched servers and lost all my old posts, I wrote one about Shaine and the issues we've been having.  All basically my fault, and I'm determined to work through them.  A large part of her issue is the slash-and-burn-technique and generally driftiness. It's pretty much comon knowledge that working dogs love to have a job.  Many of them need to see that there's a point to what they're doing, or they find other things to do instead.  To that end, I've given Shaine a job. Which also meant a huge, and I mean HUMONGOUS, leap of faith on my part. I promoted Shaine to pen/sorting dog -- a job usually reserved for the more reliable, dependable, able to shut their prey drive off, dogs.  The job entails bringing all the working sheep -- which includes 15 of this year's lambs -- into the take pens and then helping me sort them into groups.  Often

10/09/2012 So, You Think You’re Ready to Trial?

I was reminded this past weekend at the SEMASA trial (thanks to a very good friend not afraid to tell me when my head’s in an uncomfortable location) that there’s a whole lot more to trialing than preparing your dog.  A big hunk of competing has to do with preparing yourself.  You can have the best trained dog on the planet and if you walk out into that arena with the wrong attitude it’s going to come back and bite you in the arse. I’ve been working hard to make things black and white for Quinn.  I don’t course train.  I break things down into manageable chunks and work till he gets it right.  Not just once.  He needs to consistently get it right before we move on to the next piece of the puzzle. I went into the SEMASA trial confident in Quinn’s abilities to get the job done.  I also