Thursday, April 26, 2012

Roll Out The Barrel

 Well the annual Clock, Stock and Barrel came and rolled out.  This year I had brought Floss -who is going to jump in the deep end - hope she can dog paddle well - and become my second open dog this year.  For her first time out this year, I can't say I was disappointed.  The first round she found herself with some cantankerous ewes and she had to eventually floss her teeth, and the second go round we almost penned the sheep.  In actuality, she was getting me dizzy around the pen - her middle name is after her mother Fly.  And flew she did.
Floss ready to floss her teeth
My old stand by Gin - I really could have stood on her head.  The first round was good, pens weren't that easy, and I got a pen, so all that we had to do was to pen the second round and get into the finals.  I guess she was watching Floss to closely, and decided that they had to be goosed at the pen.  Had a good suggestion from Shawna Burton - run the dog with a muzzle, put some nice rhinestones on it - nothing in the rules to say otherwise - I however may resort to duck tape.
Gin and I working for that pen.
There were some new faces in the competition this year.  Wife and husband team, Naomi and Bill Shields.  Word of advice for wife and husband teams - training together rarely works - unless one of you is dead.
Naomi and Nim
Bill and Blue
In between runs, there was other things to watch during Aggie Days.  My nephew Joey learned how to ride a bucking bronc.
I and Gin helped Jill Brodie with a duck demonstration - I may have to get her eyes tested - she tried really hard to move this plastic duck, but to no avail.
Jill Brodie working the crowd.
Billie Richardson and her Aussie also helped - no heads were rolling by the end of the demo - a sign of a sure success. 
We hopped to other demos to watch - Bunny Agility at its best! 
I got to visit with royalty briefly - Princess Dani Gariepy who is the daughter of our friends Ann and Reg.
 Then the top 6 got into the finals.  Tyler Harker was piggish and got two of his dogs in. He got second and third.

Steve Rosvold had to keep Saskatchewan alive in the finals - otherwise it was an Alberta affair!
 Cory Perry and Jill had trouble at the pen.
George Walker showed all that a Kelpie can do the work as well.
Judy Finseth and Kate turned out to be the big enchilada of the day.
So 2012 Clock, Stock and Barrel is in the recordbook. Our next trip will be out to Saskatoon for a cattle trial, and a stopover to do a duck demo for Pet Expo in Regina-the 2012 trial season has begun!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I've Been Everywhere Man

By the length of this blog, you better get a cup of coffee and make sure you have gone to the bathroom, it is a long one. I will start this by asking not to touch Dora the Explorer - she is very hot. Hot to trot. It started last Friday, April 13th , when I loaded up the Border Leicesters for a trip to Jamie Van Ryan's to get shorn (in which Rodge the Dodge was used to pull a trailer, not my poor little Dora). I had planned to get there about 1 pm, but as I was driving with my cargo, a message from work asked me if I could come in to cover . As I was driving by the clinic, I decided to stop in to apologize for not responding to the message that had been left an hour previously. My stop lasted about 4 hours, since often on Fridays there is only one person at the clinic - and that day only Dr. Alan was around, and a C-section on a farm had to be done which was about 1 hour away. A call to Jamie was made to make sure I wasn't going to miss the shearer, and I, Gin and Floss manned the vet clinic for the next 4 hours. While I was there, a dog that got hit by a vehicle came in (I am sure it wasn't me - I do not condone make work projects) and a splint was put on the back leg (I'll do anything Doc as long as it doesn't cost a lot of money, so I won't take the dog to another clinic to get x-rays done, I will just let you and your crystal ball decide whether he can heal and be normal again...oh, no, I don't want him vaccinated, I don't want to put too much money into him). The afternoon passed quickly, and I was able to leave by 3 pm. I raced along Southern Saskatchewan roads (which are improved goat trails) and got to Jamie's and Harvey's with time to spare. The sheep were shorn, and we went in and devoured the spread that was cooked. We almost ate the kitchen table but thankfully it was nailed down. Now, if anyone looked on the map, Shaunavon is about 80 miles west of McCord, and this year, we had mineral delivered as close to possible to us....this happened to be 20 miles west of Shaunovan. As I was in the vicinity, after I left Jamie's, I went to pick up the last shipment of mineral that had been dropped off, which also happened to be at a cousin's of Chris. By this time, the sun was setting, but I was sure I could remember how to get to Mike and Marla's place. I was wrong. I found myself calling them from a Hutterite colony after I had white knuckled my way down...then up a very steep hill - it would have made the truckers who are used to Roger's Pass in the Canadian Rockies pee their pants. If people think Saskatchewan is flat, they haven't seen a lot of the province! After I got my bearings and my directions, I gripped the steering wheel again to make it back down that valley to only go up it again from another direction. Eventually, I made it to Chris's cousin's Mike's - where I found a fish floundering on the kitchen floor. Alright, Mike's last name is Poisson, which is French for fish, and he was lying on the kitchen floor. It wasn't because he had drunken too much, but rather he was doing some electrical work for the renovations that he and Marla were doing on their kitchen. I stopped for a visit while I hoped I would not smell any fried fish, and after the mineral was loaded, I was on the road again. I eventually rolled back into the homestead at 2 am in the morning, and the naked Border Leicester flock joined the rest of the group. The next morning, I packed up and travelled to my Mom and Dad's to Broadview - with a quick stop at Walmart in Moose Jaw to buy a new pair of shoes (the running around had caused me to wear a hole in the ones I was wearing). I got there by the late afternoon, and found my parents as I usually find them - at the kitchen table playing cards. My sister Sharon and her family were also there, and the smell of chicken cooking was in the air. No, their last name isn't Pullet and no electrical work was being done. Before supper, Sharon and Terry's kids, Adam, Erin and Jeffrey, did their nightly 1/2 hour run. They run a lot of marathons, and Adam, who is graduating from high school this year, received a scholarship because of his running with the University of Regina. Man, if I had known running would have allowed me to have a paid education, I would have run as well....who am I kidding, no I wouldn't have. The supper concluded with a birthday cake - to celebrate Mom's 81st birthday. A fire extinguisher was on hand, but did not have to be used. Dishes were washed, and another game of cards were played. The Strueby's ran home to Regina, and the next couple of days I visited with Mom and Dad and played more cards...."Sticks" was the game of choice, and if you know the difference between runs and sets you will be all set! On Monday I set back home with a stopover at Eyebrow(which is close to really, go check it out on Google Maps) and picked up Scotty - a guardian pup who was to become Fiona's working partner. I know, you ask, what happened to Pete who had come the same time as Fiona. Unfortunately, a mother cow who was having a calf being fostered onto her thought Pete was a threat, at least that's what I think happened, since I had found Pete's lifeless body in the sheep pen the day the cow and calf was put in the pen to make sure she had bonded to her new calf. I would say she bonded. Now, any cows with foster calves are put in the front of the barn, and not with the sheep in their pen. Live and learn - often the hard way. So Scotty, a full month younger than Fiona, has been forced to learn the rules - that is.... "Sheep are good, and out of the sheep pen is bad!" Fiona loves her sheep and hopefully Scotty will love them like her. After getting back home in McCord, I worked a couple of days in the clinic - cat spays, limping dogs, semen testing bulls and prolapsed vaginas (in which one was called in as a prolapsed uterus but she hadn't calved would be a miracle to prolapse a uterus and still be pregnant..I have found it important to ask the question "Has she calved yet?" to people's calls, hoping not to offend the more savy ranchers who know what the difference is-the difference is about 2 Advil in my experience.) Nights after getting home, feeding Andy the orphaned lamb and training a few young dogs are done before walking into the house to call it a day.
A week has passed since the sheep shearing, and the sheep will be processed to go to pasture, since they think pasture these days are in my backyard...who needs pruning shears when you have sheep?
Get Outta Here Ewe Guys!
Then, I will pack up Gin and Floss and go to the Clock, Stock and Barrel trial in Calgary, with a quick stop back at Beiseker to load yet a few more of my worldly goods (slowly but surely we are moving in). Did someone say Saskatchewan has a slow pace...not in my books!

The Road Not Taken

Another April 19, another milestone. Yup, another candle has been added to my years on earth, and I wonder, when is the midlife crisis going to happen. Maybe it is more how you feel, and I feel in my mind that I am 30, which means I have about 30 years more before I should be having a midlife crisis - since I will be living until I am well past 100 years. At least that is the plan. I find myself wondering how I got where I am - and I am not talking about direction on Google Maps. Life is like one big road trip. Sometimes it puts you on the fast track, like the # 2 highway between Calgary and Edmonton, and then you putter along the gravel roads, slowing down for deer as they bound across in front of you. Once in awhile you have a big rock hit you in the windshield, it may eventually end up in a crack if you let it, but if you deal with it right away, you can patch it up and it can be as good as new. Sometimes you have major breakdowns, but in awhile, with time, and money, things can be fixed. Minor things like flat tires occur-slight frustrations can be dealt with quickly. Occasionally you will run out of gas. I have travelled on many roads, across Canada, the USA and in England, have gotten a few tickets along the way, and a few demerit points, but those are the risks you take. There have been a few T-intersections, and the final destination may be different depending which turn you take. There may be a few bumps in the road - just slow down a bit and it won't jar the teeth out of you. Once in a while you will get lost, but you will often end up in the place you were heading for eventually if you persevere - and you make sure your tank is full. Sometimes you feel like you should drive for the other person - but backseat driving should be kept at a minimum.
I remember reading Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" in high school-I feel I have taken the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bad Luck Runs Amock

I am not sure who made up the rule saying bad luck runs in threes, but this week the bad luck around the Hilltop Ranch was in multiple of threes. The first three came in the form of dead calves during the storm over Easter. With the help of cold weather, and the hungry bellies of coyotes, the calving season started on a Johnny Cash low note. After running around finding three new calves to put on cows, the barn was soon full of hungry calves, and cows signed up for the foster project. A few more days would roll by, and more things would happen....a calf with knuckled over legs, a few more calves who crossed over to the other side due to Wiley Coyote, a cow with big balloon tits (which would put Dolly Parton to shame), and twins with no mothers (which caused us to have extra calves around). Old Dolly Parton had quite a bubbly attitude... her rage did boil over. She turned into a cow in which the only way to move her to a corral was to run really fast in the direction of whatever corral you wanted her in, or sit on the safety of a horse and push her like a riot crowd...and when that failed to move her, the use of skid steer equipped with cage and roll bar. She turned out to be a dream...more of a nightmare really. McDonald's will be seeing her in a new McDolly this fall. Hot sauce not required.
To add insult to injury with all of the great things that occurred this past week, we also had a house with no water. There was a filter canister who decided to explode, thankfully happening while were were home so we could sop up the mess before it got too soggy. A few days would pass until a permanent fix could be done. Chris removed the culprit, and noticed the make of the filter.
Yes, the Trojan broke....there was no morning after pill available though...unless you regard Advil as the magic pill. When you are dealing with the Trojan Company, you should have a back up system...back it up, back it up, back it up.
With the Trojan gone, the water was restored...thankfully since earlier in the day I had removed the stinkiest (not that they ever smell nice) retained placenta in a cow - a fear factor type of smell. Ode d' rotten placenta. Skunks ran the other direction and I felt like I should roll on myself..... the dogs sure thought I was nice though.
As the bathtub drained, I said a prayer that the bad luck has gone down the drain as well.
I hoped we would get the luck of the Irish in the next week....or Portugese or Chinese...didn't matter what kind. One just has to note that the luck of the McCordian is not the best luck to have.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday Was Passed Over

This Easter, I had planned to go out to my Mom and Dad's and have the traditional turkey+/or ham with the rest of the kin...well minus my brother Gary since he had to stay and work (good for him). Unfortunately, mother had another plan...mother nature that is. Apparently we had imported a snow storm from the States, and the duty is yet to be be paid. At least six inches of heavy snow decided to fall, and the wind decided to blow as well. Since one couldn't see their hand in front of their face, I decided I better not strike out for the homestead. I phoned my parent's house and my sister Sandy answered, and informed that there was no snow, and it was 16 C - darn near shorts weather. Perhaps the next day would make a better travelling day.
We are just beginning to calve, so Chris went out to check the cows with our nephew Jim (who had come down with Chris's mom with some farm equipment) - that turned out to be a short trip out, and it was decided that we stay inside for the day. The next day I woke up, still planning to get out to my parent's, and it looked promising, the sun was shining, and the blizzard seemed to have blown itself out (however, the wind was still blowing, since it seems it is the norm for these parts). A phone call to Mom decided my fate....the blizzard had moved and now was playing havoc in southeast Saskatchewan...Easter 2012 was to be spent at McCord, Saskatchewan, but still with family. Chris went out to check out on the calves in the morning, and it seemed as if the coyotes had an early Easter dinner - in all total, three baby calves were lost in the storm. Good Friday definitely was not a good Friday. We found some replacement calves (Jerry and Scotty the dairy calves and Jason the beef calf) to be placed in the barn with Little Orphan Andy - a lamb whose registered name is Whydidmymothergotitsup Andy.
The holiday was salvaged, spending a good visit with Chris's mom and nephew - I hope they didn't mind my Easter dinner - T-bone steak - perhaps it will be the new tradition.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Huge Annoucement

Well after many months of contemplating, I have come to and have crossed the crossroads. I have decided to sell Gin. I figured that she is coming down to finishing her trialing career, and would make a novice person a great dog to learn with. I do hope Becca will fill in her shoes, it is such a crap shoot, but I am willing to gamble. I am going to miss her, and I am sure I have suprised many a person with this decision. I have promised Gin I would finish this trial season with her, and hope the future trials will hold good fortune for us. I do hope she will forgive me, and I am sure she won't really care as long as she is working - I know she will work for anybody. For those who have never seen Gin work - here is a clip of her working, and the whistles I use.
A great dog for the right person!