Thursday, November 28, 2013

She's Baaaacckkkk!

Okay, I am sorry.  Sometimes like a creek, the creative juices get kind of dried up, and takes a while for things to flow again.  Here it is the end of November, and I am waaayyy behind in the blog.  So much has happened, so little time to put it down.  Well, first things first, lets go back and start filling in all of the happenings of 2013 - a year to remember - and for me, a year to forget.  It will all come to light as the blog progresses, so don't fall off of your seat as you are sitting on the edge of it.  And if you sit like that too long, you may end up with tingling in your legs (but maybe that is just me).
So backtracking to August, we had just finished the Western Canadian Finals - with Peter Gonnet and Taff winning it, and myself and Gin being Reserve.  Louanne Twa and Gus (Gin's son) won the Nursery (and in due time you will see how great the Gin/Don clan can do). 
So after the Western Canadian Finals, Jenny the Donkey and her crew had a well deserved rest.
 On to the Canadian Border Collie Association Championships, the buck stopped at Shaunavon, Saskatchewan.  Jamie VanRyhn (soon to be Gardner) was the hostess.  Buck - aka Jack Knox - was the illustrious judge to watch the dogs.  Occasionally we had to make sure his eyes were open since he looked very comfortable in his judging perch.
 Dale Montgomery had supplied the ewes for the event.  They tested all of the handlers.
 Norm Sommer and Lexi did their routine - they were to practice before they were going on to Soldier Hollow.
 Some handlers, such as Randy Dye, felt that he could move the sheep through the power of his own actions.  Oh, he would say the wind was blowing very hard that day, but we all knew differently.
 It was a type of trial that everyone lent a hand to help things roll.  Tierney Graham and Brisco helped to set out the sheep for fellow handlers.  Chris was the designated sheep driver of the trial, but on the Saturday, he had to go back to Alberta to witness his niece get hitched up.  I stayed behind and tried to fill his shoes - which is difficult since I wear a size 8 and he is a 10. 
 My running during the trial was not stellar as I remember.  I know this since I did not get into the double lift.  Randy Dye and Sweep got into the double lift, it was a great way to retire a hell of a dog - Sweep that is, not Randy.
 I spent most of the day up at the set out pens, doing my part to make sure the handlers below were smiling.
 The nuts of the organization.  Without the set out crew, the wheels of the trial would fall off.
 The view from the top.
 Floss worked her buns off in the hot Saskatchewan sun.
 When it was all said and done, a tall leprechaun from Ireland won the whole enchilada.  Micheal Gallagher (who in the heart of hearts wants to be a Canadian) showed us how it was done.  Here he is accepting an award from Bob Stephenson for the top Canadian registered dog run that was trained by the handler.
The Scotsman and the Irishman poses for a photo. 
 It was a great trial - even though in the beginnings it was a pain (but we won't rehash that - we will let bygones be bygones).  Jamie and her crew did a great job, and people walked away with smiles.
So that was August.  I will now have to go back into my diary and see what was the next events to occur in this crazy year we called 2013.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Let's Face It, I Will Never Get Caught Up

Let's see, this is October, and last time I left off we were in beginning of July.  Really, what could have happened in a few months?  Well....LOADS!  If I would have known what it would have been like, I would have asked for a seatbelt for this rollercoaster ride.
July was filled with organization for the Western Canadian Finals....a finals that almost did not occur.  While attending the Last Chance Trial put on by the Glens in New Dayton, Alberta, it came to light that there was a very low attendance for this longstanding trial-the oldest in Canada actually. Unfortunately, without the handlers and their dogs, the event would be exactly like watching paint dry.   Never mind that I had travelled to every parade in southern Saskatchewan this year to promote the dogs, never mind that I had sent fliers to every small town in the south, and never mind that there was a large amount of leg work that had been done to put on a first class event (minus the dancing girls of course - they were busy that weekend).  Some handlers had pulled out due to health issues of their dogs, some decided not to come since it was too far (I will have to check Google maps, I did not realize Mankota, Saskatchewan was actually farther than Meeker, Colorado for some), and some decided not to come to make a stance (which was okay, would be more room in the stands for others to watch good dogs).  I had added more classes for those who would attend if I did so....and bought more ribbons for them.  Excuses why they couldn't come...the judge....the time away....a new job.  These excuses came from the same person (come on, pick a reason and stick with it).
In a moment of weakness, I decided to call the whole thing off - really, did I want to go through the work for a handful of handlers and their dogs?  Really crappy things had to be done -toilets were cancelled,  sheep were told to stay home, caterers cancelled, put it on Facebook so that the masses knew, phone the handlers who were planning to attend so they could change their plans and let the judge Jack Knox know that he would not be needed - but wait - Jack had to come early for a clinic that he was doing the weekend before.  Another sleepless night and then....undo everything again.  Call handlers back and see if they would come.  Some have busy lives, and in the period of 48 hours they had already made alternate plans, others needed slight urging (begging) to come.  The event was placed back on, and before it would be completed, I would first have to go to the McCrae clinic.  The clinic was hosted by Chris Jobe, and it was very informative.  Who would have thunk....if your dog has a good stop you can run better at a trial.  Ingenious really!  Turning the post....who knew the idiosyncrasies that were involved with it?  Why oh why didn't we have the clinic earlier on in the season so I could have stopping dogs which could turn a post better?
So for those of you who like pictures, here are a few.
Our hostest with the mostest - Chris Jobe.
 All the attendees....some appear to have their brain too full with information.
Alistair teaching with the famous cones.  I do believe cone sales rose abruptly in Medicine Hat after the clinic.
The clinic was open to young and old.
Ryan tells his dad what he had learned from Alisdair.
 Chris did a wonderful job- and minus the rattlesnakes- the attendees had no problems.
I would rush to go home and get ready for the 2013 Western Canadian Finals the following week - and in a blink of an eye (sometimes teary.... if you haven't put on a trial without some emotion, you have not done a good job), and it was over.  The spectators - which outnumbered the handlers and their dogs - saw some great action.  Mankota also saw some action as well, as our sheep decided to take a few ventures down towards town.  It was a small, intimate group of handlers, and some of them lined their pockets well with money and prizes.  The sheep were not all that easy, and the trial field was great (have to warm up to the owner so we can use it again next year). 
Now, here is another picture interlude.
We used our own lambs for this project - I do not think they knew what was up!
 A lively bunch.
Spectators came from all over (note the hood).
The handlers came from all over as well (thanks Closes from coming).
 Dale Montgomery.
Just one of the many times I had to retrieve the sheep from downtown.
 Peter Gonnet.
 Retrieving the sheep from downtown (again).  It was like Groundhog Day.
 It was a hot time for all.  I often would change my hat to setter during the event.
The double lift went off without a hitch.  Peter and Taff would eventually be crowned the 2013 Western Canadian Champion.
 The loot.
Gin would eye up her winnings of the weekend, she was Reserve Champion.
Her son Gus would become the Nursery Champion.
My ass was thoroughly tired after the event. 
 The next day the Closes came out to help us move some heifers.
 Vicki brought out her camera to take pictures - say cheese Bryn!
Looking back, I am glad I was stubborn enough to carry through with it all.  I do not think people lied saying it was a good trial.  I am sure the pain of it all will be like childbirth, and I will forget about it and host another one next year.
Please stayed tune for the next exerpt of the 2013 summer happenings.  Truly, I will get caught up.  I do not like loose ends. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Almost Caught Up

So much has happened this summer, and I have been kind of lazy putting things down in type.  So let's rectify this situation.  After the branding we did at our place, we made a mad dash to Calgary that early Sunday morning to see my sister in the hospital, and left that same night - and I thank God I did - two hours I got home she peacefully went in her sleep.  That was a milestone that hit really hard for our family, but as time goes on it gets better.  Our final good byes were to be done a week later, which happened to be during the first Continental Stockdog Championship in Winnipeg, and scrambling was done to find competitors to fill my dog's spots.  We did drive throughout the night to get to Winnipeg to compete in the cattle dog portion - in which Gin did really well, getting into the finals and finishing 4th.  I would like to think my sister Jean was cheering me on.  The following day was full of hugs and tears, and for two weeks later we all had the worst colds imaginable. 
July was soon upon us, and with July was the Wildrose Trial at Bowden followed with the Calgary Stampede.  The dogs did not do that spectacular, but the pups I had with me shone - they shone so much that they took a permanent trip down to the States!  Bright gaffers that they are.  The Stampede is always a fun time, and it was fun times tenfold this year.  I won one round with Gin, thus getting enough points to go to Virginia this year. 
With the flood this year, we could not be in the Saddledome, but a big tent was to be our home.  There was no jumbotron, but we had a mini-jumbotron to watch.
 Chris gave me ulcers as he gave his dogs wrong flanks, and then got after them after they only did what they told.  Hmmm, nerves perhaps?
 Our dogs hammed it up with the crowds.
 The bridge over to the other side was unfortunately down river...likely in High River.
 Floss found this hard hat...likely belonged to the worker that was on the bridge at the time it was washed away.
  I did not get into the finals with Gin, but did get to squeak in with Floss, finishing middle of the pack.  In the end, Kaelene Forsyth and Gypsy Rose were the big kahunas!
   The icing on the cake was being the recipient of the Sponsor's Choice Award....that being a new trailer! It is given to a handler which shows, among things, love of the sport, good sportsmanship, and an all round good ambassador of the dog sport.  That person could not be there, so I got it instead. Thank God Stormy Winters couldn't make it out to Stampede this year.
  Heck, I may put a bed in there, and call it my home away from home - it seems that I am away from home a lot.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More Catching Up

Branding is a yearly thing that has to be done. Around these parts, the community pitches in to help one another - it is like a big circus - moving to ranch to ranch branding calves along the way. It is one of times during the year where we can catch up with the neighbours-the rest of the year is filled with other duties-seeding land, making hay, fixing fence and checking cattle and feeding. Brandings are one of the last of the old fashion things that happen on the ranch, and probably will continue on for years to come since it is a necessity-I am afraid microchips migrate too much. The day starts with looking at the weather forecast-since a wet day will soon cancel the festivities. If a dry day is called for, all the herd is brought in and calves are split from their moms - let the bawling games begin! The branding pots are heated up, and the ropers are warmed up and everyone finds their place for the day. There are many jobs to be done- roping, wrestling, vaccinating, castrating, dehorning and branding are to be completed. When things are on a roll, it takes only a few minutes per calf and all of the jobs are done-a well oiled machine could not keep up with us! There was only one fellow fall off his horse this year, and that was because he was trying to retrieve his hat which blew off. Perhaps a string on his hat will help next year - hell, put on a whistle and he could whistle for help as well! After the branding is done, the crew must be fed and watered. Filtered barley mash is always a prerequisite, as well as rye water. Often the festivities last well until the early morning -and usually depends on how the refreshments hold out. I think our refreshments held out just fine!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Still Catching Up!

So the next trial that was planned for 2013 was a trip to Wyoming to compete at the Slash J and the Clear Creek Trial.  Jamie Van Rhyn was to be my travelling partner, and a little cramming was done the night before we left. 
 The next morning we packed up the crew and set our way to south of the 49th.  At about the 48th, a rock hit the back of the windshield.  "No, the show must go on!" I told Jamie.  Fresh air is always a good thing.
 Stopping at just across the line at Opheim, Mike and his friend Mike helped out damsels in distress.  Dora's back end was dealt with, and we carried on our merry way.  Duct tape and cardboard and voila....a new windshield.
 Thank you Frito Lay!
 As we travelled, we stopped along the way and let the dogs stretch their legs...and ours too.
 We made it to Sheridan where we stayed the night - and this young fellow at Boston Pizza was very helpful in getting our bearings.  This California dude should actually work at a tourist booth.
 Jamie and I went shopping for groceries.  The crab meat was a hard catch.
 We carried on from Sheridan in the morning, and made our way to Joni Tietjen's new abode.
 The countryside was outstanding.
 Wyoming had a new colour this!
 Joni showed us how to get an unlucky break with a bum lamb.  I do believe she wanted a gun at this time to scare the bugger to the rest of them.
 The field was huge, and a good test for the hounds.  My hounds did not pass the test.
 On the slow days, I did some surgery - my lights were in need of a repair (first fixed by Jamie's fiancĂ© Harvey, and then destroyed by the windshield incident).
 Splicing and dicing.  It was real delicate work.
 Success!!  I may open a shop in Mankota in the near future.
 Another slow day I went to Sheridan to get Dora's window replaced.  The community of Sheridan had some buddies to loan them a few statues (this one says worth $58,000).
 And that was no bull!
 Clearmont saw the handlers one evening.
 Pool shark Jamie.
 There was more bull.
 The bar/restaurant/taxidermy shop had something for everyone.
 A very rare Vincent Van Gogh.
 A good time was had by all.
 Oh dear, or deer.
 Ray Copeman chowing down.
 Tasty morsels of food.
 Red Solo Cup.....I lift you up.
 The next trial was hosted by the Fennemas just down the road at Leiter.
 I worked on my sock tan.
 The field was fantastic.  Yet another test for the dogs....yet another test failed by my dogs.
 When it was all said and done, Jamie and I made it our way home.  On our travels we found these two lovebirds.  Yes, he had taken her to the convenience store on his lawnmower for some beer.
 Born to be wild!!!
 Our last stop would be in Malta before we made it home. 
 There was a little shopping done the next day, and then we made it back on the north side of the 49th.  There was a little more time left over, and we travelled to the Glentworth Mall, where Jamie showed me how to spend money. 
The two southwestern Saskatchewan chicks were back in the homeland.  There would be some remedial classes for dogs before the next trial in Bowden, Alberta.  Would summer classes work...time would tell!