Monday, June 28, 2010

Breezy Hill Farm SDT and more

I went up to Virginia this past weekend with one of my students, who was making his trialing debut in novice-novice. The word for the weekend (well, actually, words) was hot, hot, hot. When I pulled out of the farm on Sunday afternoon at 3:30, the temperature guage on my van read 101 degrees. My student's truck recorded a temperature of 103. Either way, that's hot. Fortunately, Breezy Hill is aptly named, and for most of the weekend there was a slight breeze. I guess it helped make life less miserable than it would have been without a breeze....

Twist and Pip ran well in open, with Twist taking second on Saturday, thanks to my brain fart at the drive away panel (that's twice at two different trials now, and it's a mistake I haven't really made since I was a new open handler). Pip had a leading score on Saturday that held for quite a while, but the sheep worked a bit better later in the day, and he eventually dropped down to something like 7th. On Sunday, Twist had an unfortunate incident with the sheep racing back to the set out and splitting. Since that alone would have put us out of contention, I chose to retire rather than plug away with it as hot as it was. Pip ran next-to-last and the run before his had lost sheep to the pond. One of those sheep ran up to the corner of the pasture and hid there. In the interest of saving time, the choice was made to leave that single sheep there. Unfortunately, the cross drive was toward the pond and the baa-ing sheep, and even on a good day, the sheep tend to bolt in that direction after making or missing the drive panels. This time, they had added incentive in the shape of their buddy calling them from afar. Pip was able to catch them, but only after they had gotten to the other side of the pond, at which point the only way to bring them back was across the dam, which meant the dog had to stay directly behind the sheep and couldn't fix the line of that leg of the drive. As a result that entire drive leg was completely offline. Despite all that we stil managed to pull off a 5th place finish. The run after us had the exact same problem, only he retired because one of the sheep threatened to leap into the pond, and he didn't want that to happen. So it was an unfortunate decision that made Pip's job much more difficult, but I was proud of him for make a supreme effort in that heat and saving the run, even at the cost of a lot of points.

The real star of the weekend was Phoebe. Someone scratched from the open ranch class, so I put her in on a whim. I haven't been working her, and it has been at least 8 months, and maybe more like a year (can't remember exactly) since she's run in a trial. I was expecting the worst, but she went out and surprised me and lost just 11 points on her run to win the class. There may be hope for her yet. I'm thinking that maybe the best thing to do with her is NOT train and just trial, holding my breath, and see what happens!

The news on the job front is not good. Thanks to Congress (or at least a majority of members) deciding that those of us on unemployment are making the debt unacceptable, no more extensions will be available, because you know, we just need to get off our lazy asses and go get a job. I live in a state with the second highest unemployment rate in the country, and I have been busting my ass trying to find a job (all over the country), but apparently I'm really just a leech sucking the lifeblood from financial solvency of the United States. I want to work. I've even offered to take lower pay to the tune of one-third less than what I used to make. I've lived on unemployment--I can live on next to nothing. But even the people who pay next to nothing apparently aren't hiring. And now we hear that at least some potential employers have a policy of not even considering unemployed people, because, you know, they have no way of knowing if we are truly the victims of a bad economy or have been let go for cause. Sheesh! I'd like to let Congress know that when I have to accept food stamps and Medicaid, then I doubt I'll be costing the federal government any less than I did when I was still eligible for unemployment.

Brighter News
I am doing some freelance work, but of course it's not enough to pay the bills and I have to leave at least some time open for job hunting and applying to jobs. But it's better than nothing, and maybe potential employers will see it as me working vs. me being unemployed and not immediately toss me into the reject pile for the latter sin.

And even more good news: After her illness/liver problems and coming off chemotherapy, I decided to stop treating Willow for her mast cell cancer. I weighed the pros and cons of what I had been doing, and after talking to my regular vet decided that it made more sense to deal with the cancer from a palliative standpoint, given Willow's age (she just turned 13), her heart condition, and my financial status. She had recently developed another tumor on the back of her leg, which I had gotten my regular vet to check out. It was big enough--and angry enough looking--that I could see it when she walked in front of me. Fast forward approximately 6 weeks, and suddenly I stop noticing it. So I gave her a closer examination, and the tumor had shrunk dramatically. I rolled her over to check the tumor on her inner thigh, and it too had shrunk significantly--almost completely gone. So I had to take Lark and Kat in for rabies vaccines last week and decided to take Willow along to show my vet what was going on so he could make a note in her record. He tempered his comments with the caveat that he is not an oncologist and that most tumors he deals with are in horses, but said it appeared to him that Willow's immune system finally kicked in and was attacking the tumors. He said that if they continued to shrink and stayed that way for 6 months it was entirely possible that they wouldn't come back. So keep your fingers, toes, and any other relevant body parts crossed that Willow's immune system has indeed awakened and decided to do battle with her mast cell tumors and that they will go away and stay gone.

Everyone Else
All other critters are pretty much just chugging along. I worry about everyone (outside) in the heat. I'm running the a/c with the thermostat on 85 and still the unit seems to run most of the time. I don't even want to think about the next couple of electric bills. But so far the sheep and chickens are weathering the scorching heat and the weatherman is saying that we're to get a break mid-week, with temps dropping back to the mid-80s. I sure hope so.

Now I need to go refill waterers--it disappears fast!--and get everyone fed. We sure could use some rain. All the extra we got this spring has long disappeared, and this intense heat is just scorching the pastures. Sigh.

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