Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are the questions getting harder, or is it just me?

Okay, I'm playing this week, but my apologies in advance for the lameness of my answers....

1. What movie do you love but are too embarrassed to admit you love it?

Gosh, I really don't know. I watch only highbrow stuff (kidding!), so how could I be embarrassed by any of them?

2. Ann wants to know: How far do you drive/travel to attend trials, clinics, lessons? How far is too far?

Well, when I was gainfully employed at a good-paying job, I even went so far as to drive to Sturgis to the National Sheepdog Finals. If I had the money, I'd probably drive 8-10 hours, though not on a regular basis. But I certainly did go through periods when I was trialing every weekend and traveling up to 6 hours or so to do so. Before I had livestock of my own, it was pretty easy to just head off wherever. The catch for me now is old animals and a farm. Going away for any length of time means finding someone to care for stuff here. So even if I were flush financially, I think I'd be limited by the need for someone to mind the farm....

3. What is your theme song (circa Ally McBeal)?

Um, I don't know. The song that goes through my head is usually related to something someone has said to me recently. For example, someone suggested Karma as a good puppy name. For the next week I was singing Karma Chameleon. But I don't find myself attaching theme songs to particular activities. I guess I'm just boring that way.

4. Laura S wants to know: If you had to choose a new dog activity, one that you had never done before, what would you choose?

Um, probably dock diving. It just seems low key enough and fun enough for all concerned. But of course it would help to have a dog who likes to swim and doesn't drop like a stone from the end of the dock.

Otherwise, just having a great place to go hiking or swimming with the dogs on a regular basis (daily would be awesome) would make me and the dogs happier than any organized sport.

5. What would your dog choose (or scribe, if you're Pippin)?

For at least some of them, that would probably be an eating contest, lol! Seriously, though, I think most of them would choose swimming or hiking, especially if a good squirrel chase could be thrown in on a regular basis. Oh and Twist would like her own five acres, set aside just for digging for "mice."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Taking a Break for TMT #9

While I'm eating my lunch, I'm going to play!

1. If you're not at the 2011 Sheepdog finals this weekend what are you planning to do?

The list is so long. I was planning to go get hay (squares and a round bale), but that might not be possible if it's raining. The other big project is to ready the Elam Currin pasture for habitation by a guard dog and work on the pond where the sheep go to drink to make it a little more sheep friendly. Gates still need to be hung here, and since I can't manage to fix my wheelbarrow I was planning to borrow the neighbor's so I can clean out the sheep loafing area under the tobacco barn lean to. Oh, and the dog yard fence needs to be finished too. In other words, I will be trying to do the chores that are always piling up and never getting done. I didn't buy views of the finals anyway, so I won't be tempted to sit inside and watch, even if the weather isn't great (at least I won't be sweating like a pig while I work, right?). Oh, and a puppy might be arriving. Anyone want to take bets on how much I get done?

2. One item you NEVER walk onto the trial field (any trial field, or training class will suffice) without?

That would be my lucky stick. The one with green (now blue) tape around the middle to hold it together where someone splintered it sorting sheep at a gate (I have no idea how). Okay, I have actually walked onto the trial field without it, when the occasion called for me to use my nice crook, but I always feel a little bereft if I don't have my old taped-up stick with me. (And if I see Laura's sunglasses lying in the grass, I pick them up, lol!)

3. Katy wants to know if you have a pre-run ritual that you observe?

Not really. I try to get my dog to watch a few lifts before our run, and I will take the dog on a short walk to see if pottying is needed and just to have a little quiet time before heading to the post. Oh, and I always have to have a last drink of water before I go through the gate. (I ttry to get the dog to take a drink too, though not of my water).

4. How old were you when you had your first real kiss?

Really? You want to know this? I don't know. A teenager certainly. I couldn't even tell you who it was. I must have been real impressed by the whole thing.

5. Bonnie wants to know what you do for yard mud control during the winter?

There is no such thing as yard mud control here. If I'm out in the yard and it's been raining, I do try to avoid the pits the dogs have dug, because falling into one filled with muddy water is no fun, and generally means a twisted ankle. I put a sheet down by the back door so that most of the mud gets wiped off the dogs (okay, at least from the bottoms of their feet) as they come through the door. Beyond that, I live with the dirt. (Heh. No comments from the peanut gallery named Laura.) Hey, this is the country and it's a farm. Mud is a fact of life, except when we're in a drought (which seems to be most of the time lately), in which case I'm very happy to see mud in any form because it means we've had rain....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Woo hoo! TMT rolls around again!

It's that day of the week again, the one we all look forward to, thanks to Laura over at Crooks and Crazies!

1. What is the biggest thing that grossed you out over the past week?

Probably the portajon at the trial, after about a day of use. 'Nuff said. Followed be sheep snot. And then there's the daily grossness of multiple spiders (big, freaky-looking ones) and spiderwebs (big, sticky, and um, freaky looking) plastered to my face as I take the sheep through the woods twice a day to and from their new pasture. I'm getting slightly inured to the whole thing, but still 8 pounds of silk and icky spider plastered across my face twice a day is pretty gross. I guess the spiders/spiderwebs win for the cumulative grossness....

2. What do you feed your dogs?

Most of them get Diamond Naturals. Phoebe gets Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream, and Jill gets Wellness Super 5. Some also get raw meals. All get various toppers, including eggs from my hens (see Laura's post), cottage cheese, yogurt, canned fish, you name it.

3. If you could move anywhere where would you live?

Wales. I adored it when I visited there and could so see myself, my sheep (or sheep I'd get there since I couldn't import mine), and my dogs living there just fine. If I couldn't have sheep, then I would probably move to the Amalfi Coast of Italy.

4. What is the funniest thought that occurred to you (or thing that happened to you) this week?

Need you ask? Laura the Skeered looking after my poor, harmless chickens. The thought is always good for a laugh, and her descriptions of the goings on usually make me laugh so hard I cry. I look forward to Laura farm sitting for me because I know that belly laughs are soon to follow....

5. If you couldn't have your breed of choice what would be next on your list?

There's a bunch. If it had to be a small dog, probably an IG, maybe a wirehaired fox terrier (just like the one I grew up with, natch!). If a large dog, well, I've always wanted a Scottish deerhound, but an Ibizan or Pharaoh hound would work too. Heck, really any dog would make me happy, as long as it wasn't all gross and slobbery.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hello? Did an entire week go by and I just didn't notice? Two weeks?

But yes, I am taking a moment to join back in with Laura Carson's Tell Me Thursday, after missing last week. So here we go. Wheee!

1. What five things can't you live without?

Can I list chocolate five times? No? Alrighty then...

1. Chocolate (it's gotta be first anyway)
2. Fizzy water (seltzer water)
3. A to-go cup (that one's for you Laura! Hee.)
4. Sleep (and I never seem to get enough)
5. My critters (I can't imagine a life without them)
**And a bonus item**
6. Books (Seriously. I'm pretty much never not reading one.)

2. How do you transport your dogs? This question suggested by several peeps, including Mara.

I, too, am the Queen of the Van Dogmobile. Mine is a newer, slightly larger model than our intrepid TMT leader's, but then again, I spent like a gazillion more dollars for it. It's a 2005 GMC Safari mid-size van. A dinosaur. The last of its kind. The seats are probably in pristine condition sitting in the hallway in an old farmhouse in Elizabeth City, NC, where I lived when I got the van. It's stuffed full of crates and the other necessitites of a (formerly) semi-nomadic life, including baby wipes, batteries, toilet paper, and a rain suit (and much, much more!). When the border collies started spontaneously multiplying, I realized that carrying them in a Honda Civic wasn't the most practical approach, so I found a used Astro van. I drove it into the ground, and it died on me (um, Laura, it was the transmission...) in the middle of nowhere between Raleigh and Windsor at night, full of dogs, on the way back from a sheepdog trial. Fortunately I had AAA and I was within the 100-mile tow range (just barely). The dogs got to ride in the van on the back of the rollback; I rode in the cab. And there was a very nice policeman who parked his car behind my van, with lights on, until help came, since I hadn't quite made it off the highway. Yep, those were the days. I plan to drive this one into the ground, too, though I'm not putting as many miles on as I have in the past. And that reminds me that I must check the oil before heading to the land of no cell phone service and no houses within walking distance this weekend (also known as Donald McCaig's Highland SDT).

3. What role does obedience play in your training or running of your dog(s)?

One reason I like what I call a natural and thinking dog is because, well, the dog thinks for itself. Sometimes that works against me, but more often than not, it saves my butt. I'd rather know that I might have to have a, ahem, discussion with my dog about why it really should take the command I'm giving than have to worry about telling the dog what to do constantly. That's really been the toughest adjustment about working Ranger: He prefers to be an obedient dog who does what he's told. Most of the time anyway. But I don't think he has a greatly developed sense of thinking for himself, which is strange because I try to train all my dogs in a way that encourages that. Of course it never helps when I end up laughing at a dog who is doing something disobedient (that would be you, Pip). Like Laura noted with Nick (still thinking about that flank you insisted on at Donald's?), I have on occasion insisted that Twist take a flank, always with a bad result and a dirty "I told you so" look from my dog.

4. At what point do you start putting commands on your dogs?

Some people would say my dogs don't have commands. C'mon, it's because they're such good, natural, thinking dogs that I don't have to tell them what to do, ever. What? You don't believe that? I start with very few commands because I don't want my chatter to distract a youngster from learning to feel and really work the stock. If I just use my body pressure and the pressure/movement from the stock, I can get a lot accomplished without ever saying a word (okay, except for the somewhat commonly used "Hey!", which can mean anything from "What the hell do you think you're doing trying to pull that ewe down?" to "Hello? Anybody out there?"). In fact, my youngsters probably think "Hey" is the main command needed to work stock. Anyway, I never really think about when I start using voice commands. It really depends on the individual dog. If the dog is very natural and sensible right out of the box, I might add commands sooner rather than later. But really I don't have a formula for when I start putting commands on--it just kind of happens.

5. Do you talk to strangers in elevators? Question posted by Laura #1

Well, that depends. I won't just strike up a conversation for the sake of doing so, but back when I actually lived a life where I could find myself in elevators with strangers or barely acquaintances, I'd talk to someone if the circumstances seemed to encourage it (say, we were attending the same meeting or had some other connection, however artificial). As a corollary to that, in some situations I might even have felt compelled to make conversation, for example, if I was on the elevator with one of my company's clients and that person knew I worked for said company, but that's one of those non-spontaneous command-performance kind of things (as in, if I want to keep my job, must make nice to the clients!).