05/08/2017 Lessons in Patience

Some of you have asked me how Dillon is coming along in his training. I don't mean to ignore him in my posts it's just that he doesn't get worked near as often as Jig right now. That's partly due to time constraints, but mostly it's because he's young yet (as I'm constantly reminded by several people any time I whine mention our problems). And he's a boy. Worse, he is currently suffering from a horrendous case of Young Boy Brain. Or, more correctly, he's enjoying it. I'm the one suffering. I can only hope it's not terminal because right now it tends to make me feel like this

04/06/2017 Jig’s Journey – An Update

I threatened you with promised an update (whether you want one or not) on Jig's training, so here it is. The best thing I ever did for this dog was invest in cattle of our own. I wish I would have done it years ago, but something else always came up. Plus, even four steers are a bit commitment of resources. In any case, we won't know until the SEMASA trial Memorial Weekend if our hard work is paying off, but I'm feeling a bit more confident in our chances. Trialing on cattle has always been tough for us because Jig likes them a bit too much. So much, as a matter of fact, she tends to forget I'm out there with her. That's not to say we haven't had our moments. They just happen to be few and far between and the rest have been

04/03/2017 Never a Dull Moment

It's been a moderately eventful week here at the farm. It all started on the 26th with the very early arrival of twin ram lambs. We aren't scheduled to start lambing until this week, and the ewe that lambed didn't even appear bred. She also didn't have any bag to speak of. Yet, there they were, two tiny ram lambs. And there she was, no milk, first time mom, wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. Ol' softy that I am, I bundled up the boys and relocated them to the laundry room without much hope of their survival. One of them especially, the red one dubbed Crybaby, wasn't even able to stand, and I'm pretty certain neither of them could see yet. Their first milestone was living through the day. The next was surviving for 2 days. I had to enlist the aid of friends and family to feed them

03/11/2017 Rebel’s Big Day

Yesterday was a big day here on the farm. Yup. Mr. Rebel Kitten officially assumed his position as Barn Cat. Given the speed at which he moved from place to place, and the efficient manner in which he kept an eye on absolutely everything, I'd say he's going to do things his own freaking way. Then again, that seems to be the theme around here.   Since Rebel seemed occupied with coming to terms with his new responsibilities, I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and firm footing (that's something of a rarity this time of year) and get some training in. The calves have been here a week and, though they've met the dogs, I haven't done anything beyond having Jig walk in on a nose to turn them. Having her own steers is going to do that girl a world of good. Okay, it's going to do us both a

03/01/2017 You Can’t Ride Color

With the end of February we said goodbye to Rowan, several weeks short of her 16th birthday. True story, she was the puppy I wasn't going to keep. I wanted a blue boy from that litter. The absolute last thing I wanted was a black-tri girl. My friend Joanne listened patiently as I told her how I needed to find just the right home for this pup because she was pushy, opinionated, and tough. She smiled when I finished and asked me what I looked for in a pup. I opened my mouth to answer, but the words that wanted to come out were all the ones I had just used to describe the pup I was looking to place. "But I want a blue boy!" I said, ignoring the title of this post; my long held adage from my riding days. Joanne, however, is very wise. The blue boys from that litter went

01/25/2017 Just For Grins

There was a time over winter when Dillon really didn't know if he was too fond of snow. He actually refused to pick up the Chuckit ball if it had any snow on it whatsoever. Somewhere along the line, that changed. Out for a play session over the weekend, Dillon sought out the snow banks still lingering around the small arena, ball in mouth. He spent a good ten minutes or more running their length, tossing the ball around, pouncing it into the snow, snorkeling down to get it so he could start all over again. I spent that time watching and laughing at his antics. We need to do that every now and again. Forget the crush of the To Do list, leave the stress of the day behind, and just revel in the moment. We need to be like our dogs and just have fun for the sake of having

01/08/2017 When Not to Close the Gate

A couple weeks ago I was working Dillon under Deb's watchful eye. We were taking a group of sheep out of the pen and it didn't go smoothly. Why would it? Dillon's just a youngster and we haven't worked a whole lot. We got the job done after a fashion. It weren't purty. Once the sheep were out, I laid Dillon down, and closed the gate. "Why are you closing the gate?" Deb asked. "Huh?" I tend to lose all ability to form coherent sentences when questioned as to my motives when I just know there's an ulterior reason behind the query. I looked at the empty pen. Looked at the sheep. Looked at Dillon. Shrugged. "Well

12/12/2016 That Time of Year

It finally arrived, complete with single digit temps and sub-zero wind chills that freeze the snot in your nose. Winter. Don't get me wrong, for the most part, I like winter. Seriously. I love the nights when the silence is so thin a single whisper fractures it, the way the stars sparkle, and the way the wind dances with the snow across the open fields, spiraling it upwards in crystalized waterspouts. The thing I hate about winter is that, for the most part, training comes to a grinding halt. Sure, there are those rare days when the temperature is bearable, the ground's not a frozen accident waiting to happen, and I can actually swing the gates, but those are few and usually hit during the week when the dayjob sucks up all my daylight hours. This year it's going to be even worse. Not winter, per se, but my impatience with being unable to work the dogs

10/04/2016 Influence, Control, and How My Dog is Like a Kite

For those of you who don't know, when I'm not at the dayjob, spending time with family & friends, or doing something dog-related, I write. (If you're interested in knowing more about that, please visit my author site and, if you're extra crazy, sign up for my Guaranteed No Spam newsletter.) Because I write, I read quite a few author blogs. One of those I frequent is terribleminds, the home of Chuck Wendig who, according to his intro: "

09/28/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Altered States Part 2

I love when a trial photographer is on site. It's usually the only time I get shots of my dogs working. It also helps me realize that perhaps my runs weren't as bad as they felt from the inside. It's always extra special when Dick Bruner is that photographer. Not only is he a great guy, he has a talent for catching those moments when it appears things are actually going good. Here is some of that calm, flat-footed duck work I mentioned in my last post. The drive up to the panels in one of our better sheep runs. For as reactive as these sheep were for Jig, she remained fairly relaxed. I, on the other hand, was a bit twitchy. No way could I give commands quick enough to keep things under control. Thankfully, this girl knows how to read her stock. And, finally, one of our best cattle moments happened