09/26/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Altered States

Anyone following this blog may have noticed I've been a bit down in regards to my trialing. It's gotten even worse since what I feel was my horrendous job handling in July, and I've been really struggling mentally: beating myself up, comparing myself and Jig to other teams, and waging war with self-doubt and frustration. There were a few times I honestly questioned why I keep doing this. I have a good dog with quite a bit of talent and I feel as though I'm failing her; that I'm not holding up my end of the team, and I keep having doubts as to whether or not I'm capable of bringing that talent out, or showcasing it in a competent manner. Yes, I have even, on more than one occasion, thought about throwing in the towel. Thing is, I'm a wee bit stubborn. Yeah. That's a well-kept secret, right? Several weeks ago, with the RRV trial looming, I started going

07/30/2016 Dillon’s Day

Yes, for once, a post about a dog other than Jig. Hard to believe, right? Well, up until now, Dillon hasn't done much training besides dry foundation work, a few twirls in the round pen, and one time in the small arena. Other than that, he's just been hanging out, going lots of places, socializing, and learning how to be a good puppy. He did get to go along  to my friend Diana's farm last week, where he met cattle for the very first time--on line, of course. Once Jig explained the proper procedures to the heifers, such as, 'if you put your head down and come toward me, you're going to get bit' and 'when I say move, I mean get to hoofing', I introduced Dillon to them. He wasn't the least bit intimidated by their size, and even brought out his big dog growl and held his ground when

07/05/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Unmet Expectations

They're double-edged swords, personal expectations. They can lead to disappointment when they go unmet, which can, in turn, create frustration and the desire to just throw in the towel and give up. Self-doubt raises it's ugly head and whispers, "You're not good enough. Not talented enough. You don't have what it takes." Long rides give me far too much time to reflect and, on occasion, wallow. I despise wallowing, yet, I fully admit, I succumbed and did a bit of it on the drive home from the That'll Do ASC trial Monday. Although we had some 'blue ribbon moments' over the weekend, Jig and I did not perform even close to the level I wanted us to. In fact, I came out of more than one run feeling about as inept a handler as I ever have. I'm not looking for sympathy here, or a pep talk, just laying it out there, because the other edge of that

05/23/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Sticking With It

One of Jig's regular jobs around the farm is to move the sheep to their temporary grazing area. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rQXkDB_qEU] This time of year, that happens on a near daily basis. It's a challenging job because it's very rare that the 'gate' remains in the same location more than two days in a row. The electrified netting gets repositioned into often very creative shapes around the open field, wherever the grass is in need of trimming. Not only does that change, but the route we take to get there varies. With the adults being grass-whores, and the lambs being… well, lambs, the job can frequently test Jig and I to the extremes of our patience. Me, more so than her. Over the past month I've been getting very frustrated with some of Jig's antics once we're in the open. For instance: her reluctance to take the flank I want her to take, her

05/04/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Who’da Thunk It

Cow Camp finished up last Friday. Then there was the drive home, the catching up on All The Things once I got home, sprinkled with a healthy dose of Life In General and a large dash of the DayJob. So, yeah, I'm a bit behind in my update. Anyhow, Cow Camp was amazing and I can't wait to do it again, which, unfortunately, won't happen until next year. The highlight of the week came on Friday when Larry pushed me and Jig to the point of my head imploding. As one of the other attendees pointed out, however, he wouldn't suggest we try something if he didn't think we were capable. Personally, I think, after a week of putting up with us, he was having a bit of sadistic fun. ;) We had spent a lot of time over the course of the week on Jig's flanks and getting her to roll that

04/26/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Cow Camp Part I

Saturday, Gail and I headed down to Larry Painter's place in Missouri for a five day cow camp. I had the opportunity to work with Larry last year in Ohio and knew I wanted to do so again. I was super stoked to get in this clinic, as it's likely the only chance I'll get all year to put in any steady cattle work with Jig. The clinic started yesterday. Larry has a great facility and some awesome stock. We finished day two on a high note, which was a good thing because the second half of day one didn't leave me in very good spirits. We started working Jig in the small pen, roughly 16x24, getting her to stay in the pressure, to lie down when told, just reminding her of the basics. Also, because I haven't gotten the chance this spring to do much actually training, I wanted to

03/30/2016 Out Like a Lamb…

I go into lambing each year with a mix of anticipation and dread. Lambs, like puppies, are adorable. I can watch their antics for hours. Once they start to discover their legs and each other, they begin hopping about like popcorn and organizing lamb races while the adults eat. Such displays can pull a smile and laugh out of me even on my most frustrating day. It's tempered by the complications and unknowns that can arise. Some years are worse than others in that department, but a big part of the reason I chose Katahdins was their ability to pasture lamb with little to no interference from me, and without the need for lambing jugs. Yes, I've had to step in from time-to-time and, yes, the occasional ewe will find herself confined for a bit if I think she needs help or her lambs don't appear as thrifty as I like. Overall, however, they

03/24/2016 Daily Dose of Cute

I'd forgotten how much fun, and work, a puppy is. It's been 8 years since we had a young pup in the house. Jig came to us when she was about 6 months old, so the last itty-bitty pup we had was Shaine. It's tough being the only youngster in the house when you have a lot of energy and no playmates. Dillon tries to play with Row, but she's beyond putting up with puppy shenanigans and too polite to explain it to him. Jig is still thinking he'd make a tasty hors-d'oeuvre. Grady would probably play with him, but the size difference between them is too great right now (think, tank vs. smart car). Amazingly enough, Her Royal Highness Princess Fiona The Cat (yes, she does insist I use her full title), will initiate play. She'll even seek Dillon out. Then, of course, Dillon slaps her too hard in the head, she gets all hissy, the

03/10/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ A Good String of Days

All things considered, this week has been pretty good. The weathermen have consistently gotten it wrong (again), so, instead of three days of rain, we got three pretty decent days with mostly sun. That is, in no way, a complaint, because it meant three consistent days of working Jig. She hasn't gotten to do anything beyond chores for the last

03/02/2016 Remembering With a Smile

I won't deny it, this winter has been a bit tough. See, Quinn loved snow, squiggling in it, snorkeling, making snow angels, it didn't matter. Consequently, I've been missing him a lot. Though I normally keep these moments to myself, I came across this short video clip while looking for another file in my Dropbox. It made me cry, I admit it. But it also made me smile, and I hope it does that for you.   [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYs30nfIrhE]