Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lilly Goes Home

Wayne with Lilly at the Southern Iowa Cattle Dog Trial

Lilly went home, we have had Lilly since she was a young pup a Border/Heeler that I traded a local Team Roper a Pocket Knife for. She was the first female that we acquired when we arrived here in Iowa, she also produced many nice pups for us mated to Indy, our Australian Cattle Dog. Lilly was the first dog that Wayne trialed, I guess you could say that it is her fault that we got the trialling bug. Prior we were just happy with a simple farm/ranch dog.

Over the past couple of years I came to the conclusion that we had grown beyond Lilly. Lilly was no longer the goto dog when it was time to do chores. Lilly was spending more time in the kennel then she was in the house, she loved being in the house but really was not great about accepting anyone new into the household, which happens around here on a regular bases. We always have a young pup coming in to learn house manners, Lilly just was not patient enough and would tend to make the pups fearful to do anythng, she was the Queen.

A couple weeks ago we were visited by a prospective new owner for Lilly, Lilly would be their first working dog. They are in the process of building a large flock and they also have cattle. After demonstrating Lilly's abilities and showing many of our other dogs Lilly was choosen to be the Queen of a new domain. I made a follow up call a couple of days after Lilly went to her new home, things were not going great, the sheep were undog broke, Lilly was uncertain and was showing little desire to get her paws dirty. My advice was to help show her what you want, support her and don't let her escape, also reminding them that they are dealing with stock that is undog broke, in some cases raised as bottle babies so they may need to help Lilly teach the stock to move off. This e-mail arrived yesterday, it made me smile:

Lilly is a wonderful dog. She is working for us now, herding sheep and ducks. She wants to work the cows but our fences aren't the best if they would get worked up it could be a bad situation.

She loves to ride in the vehicles with us and even jumps up into the tractor with me. She doesn't like baths but she is getting used to the fact that she will get one at least every week or henever she rolls in a rotten egg. Speaking of which she is an egg thief. She finds the duck eggs in the yard and helps herself. Have to say she does have a shiny coat though.

We really love her. Thanks for the opportunity. When things get a little better ecconically we may be back for another registered dog.

As hard as it is to let the dogs go that we have outgrown and no longer fit in our breeding program, we gain so much reward in knowing that someone is enjoying them and that they are now doing what they were at minimum bred to do, ultimately be a good old farm/ranch dog.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Boy, did the day get away from me yesterday, I was able to work a few dogs after spending more time then I expected getting the empty water tanks for the horses dug out of snow drifts, flipped over (great fun when they are frozen down) followed by filling them 1/2 full with water. Getting the tanks out usually triggers one of two things, a big warm up or a major drop in temps which ends up freezing the tanks solid on me, hence the reason I hedge my bets and only fill them 1/2 full. I then restrung the snow fence around the sheep pen, snow is deep enough to allow the lambs to access the large squares in the combo panels. They freely walk in and out of the lot through the fence, so a quick remedy is to line the outside with plastic snow fence. This also deters Ricky, who has discovered that he could find work to do, first putting the lambs back with the moms, then following them through the fence and proceeding to move all the sheep to the barn. Next was cleaning kennels, feeding dogs, moving dogs around so that the two front runs that have access to the inside whelping boxes are empty so that I can prep them for Dottie and Vicki, due end of the month and the first week of April. Hopefully it will get warm enough over the next couple of days so that all the ice and snow accumulation will resolve itself, we can then follow that up with the propane torch (nothing beats high heat disinfectent).

Did I say that I actually did get to work dogs? After spending more time then expected hunting and fitting collars on JJ and Weasel. JJ is quite annoyed with Clyde's old 2" wide collar, Weasel inherited Katie's and is equally unimpressed, her's too is wider then her old collar which was passed down to the puppies last fall.

Weasel, Dixie and JJ all had a lesson in the small pen. Many people ask how much could possibly be done in a small pen, the pen is approx. 30x40, two corners squared, two curved. I use 5-6 sheep and we work on self controlled, calm quiet work. Short drives, holding lines, proper distance as it relates to space and the toughest thing of all, keeping their flanks relative to the stock regardless of where I am. This is where most have the hardest time, they want to flank behind me or always away from me. Time, Patience and a training cord are all keys. Once a dog understands that when they flank that they need to stay in contact with the sheep all the way around, both left and right, a whole new world opens up, they have the ability to be positioned anywhere around the stock and initiate a drive to any location.

Well, I better get off to work...BTW great news, the forecast is showing the potential of high 40's low 50's this weekend, atleast I think it is great news especially if you like mud...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just like Clockwork

I scrolled back to check the date of the "Changing of the Seasons" post, it was on December 5th, well now it's March 1st and just like clockwork Mother Nature is changing our seasons again. We are still up to our arm pits in snow but it is reducing quickly, approx. 1" a day. The forecast is for 32-34 degree highs for the majority of this week. Boy, this was a long winter.

Our ewes are pretty much done lambing, took them 20 days from begining to end with the exception of a couple of maiden ewes that are due sometime in the next 5 months, we never took the ram out...oops...

In just over 30 days we have a judging clinic that we are going to, in 60 days we plan on going to our next trial down in Missiouri. 45 days later is Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival, by that time we will have our legs and being running at full speed.

Today, March 1st, marks the official beginning of spring training, we are limited to the small indoor pen, but it will suffice for working on obedience and self discipline. With any luck we will be outside and working in the pastures mid March and out in the fields come April 1st (barring any flooding). I've intentionally drug my feet when it comes to training, knowing that we would be limited for a while to the indoor pen.

Here's the line up at this time:

Jake (I'll be running him open on sheep this summer and Wayne is going to run him on Cattle)
Weasel & Dixie (final 2 months of training before going to their new jobs)
Ben (doesn't seem to know what he wants to be when he grows up)
JJ (will be my pro-novice dog)
Bea (looks like she didn't settle, so if she has no puppies it's off to work she goes)
Toby (hoping that he will be ready for the Iowa Cattle Dog Nursery Challenge this fall)
Ugh - ACD (just going to keep plugging along to see how much training he can retain)
Buffy - ACD (much the same as Ugh)

We have some ACD pups that are hanging out, maturing and will continue with their basic manner, recall and leash training until it is time to introduce them to stock.

Ricky and Rosie are going to get to focus on growing up and gaining maturity.

I better get rolling, it's a new day.