Sunday, April 21, 2013

Should Have Done This Ages Ago!!

This was something I should have done ages ago-take a dog clinic. It started when I left work and made it to Jamie VanRyn's place, to do a little dog training, a little visiting, and have a sleep over. The next morning was to get to Chris Jobe's so we could travel together to Jerry Kurbatoff's and Billie Richardson's (no relation to me -since she has my maiden name-but she could be my sister anytime!). That night a birthday cake was had, to celebrate another year of survival for myself. How old am I? Probably old enough to know better. Let's just say, I will still be buying green bananas for many years to come (which reminds me that the bananas at home have probably went brown!). Chris and I were graciously allowed to stay at Jerry's and Billie's and partake in How To Run A Hound - 101. First-ensure your dog knows how to take commands. I did find out that the supposedly wide flanks I had with Floss had magically disappeared over the winter. Now,where did I put that drawing board? Second, video not only adds pounds to your physique (or was that Jerry's cooking?), it also depicts just how your whistles sound weird-I liken it to people who think they sound good singing-but only in their mind. The clinic went great, even if there was another slight blast of winter. We brought our currs out and got some pretty good insight on how to spend points to make points- but unlike the penny, there will be no rounding up or down. We watched the video in the afternoon so that the thrill (or was that chill) of the morning workout could be relived again. Lots of visiting, a lot of laughing, and a lot of eating was done-a perfect weekend! Now to put all of that information to work-I figure that we all should finish in the top eight from now on-and if we don't, no big deal-it's only a dog trial!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Next Monthly Picture.

Well, here is the new photo of the month.
Honestly, you would think at this time of the year you would see grass, and maybe the whites of my legs, since I do tend to put on shorts on as early as possible.
The shorts have not come out as of yet.
And the caption for this month's photo....
"What did the tree say to the barn ? I'd like to pack my trunk and leaf this all behind!"

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Clock, Some Stock, And A Few Barrels.

Hopefully you know this polka dance tune!

 "Roll out the barrel, let's see a ewe on the run."

 Or something like that. 
The 2013 year for the dogs started this past weekend.  I stopped over at Chris Jobe's and Mildred Barry's on Friday since Chris and I were going to travel together to go to the Clock, Stock and Barrel competition that is held with Aggie Days in Calgary.  After counting Mildred's many lambs (from triplets, quadruplets and would you believe quintuplets? I am sure something is in the water at her place!), Chris and I packed up Dora the Explorer with the dogs - Gin and Floss and three of her tykes (to keep her girlish figure) and Chris's Fly and Jill.  We headed off to stay over at Chris's friends' house (Claire and Chris) outside of Calgary.  While we were visiting, we watched a very interesting show regarding health and fitness.  There is actually research that a person can get fit by doing only three-twenty second "go until you feel like barfing, dying or both" sessions three times a week to become more fit.  I thought I would bust my ass and work a little harder, so I went for 30 seconds before I went to bed that night, and had a restful, post workout sleep.
Chris and I got to the competition the next day, and got to the job at hand - visiting friends, running dogs and having fun.  It had started to look like it was going to be a difficult thing to pen the sheep, but a few got 'r done.  To get to the finals it would be the top two aggregate dogs of two runs, and the top two of each run. Gin and I got a pen the first round (not in the top two), and Floss thought she had to grip to move things along (definitely not in the top two).
As we waited for the second go round, I ran into my nephew Joey - who has become quite a little bronc rider.  The type of hat is very important.
His brother Mathew (Sideshow Bob) was on the grounds as well.
Sister Hannah was there to cheer on Auntie as well.
It was like a family reunion, since their older sister Ashley and her fiance Jason and their friend Melissa (who is also our nephew Jimmy's main squeeze) was in the crowd as well, and also close family friends who are like family (except they don't fight as much) -Jamie Hooper and kids were in tow.
As the next go round was to happen, my BFF Penny was in the crowd with a special young lady Ellen and her mom Liz to cheer us on.  With Ellen's help, Gin was able to close the gate on her ewes - now all that was needed was pixie dust to spray on the rest of the competitors that could kick us out of the top 2 aggregate place.  I guess some was sprinkled onto Floss, since she got a ewe which may have had a touch of Mad Cow disease - and she proceeded to charge at Floss at the pen after a not too bad preamble to that point.  I do believe that some strong pushing exercises will have to be done at home to build some confidence-I wonder what kind of whistle "Fetch 'r Up" is going to sound like?
And, yes Ellen, Floss is alright now.
Pixie dust had ran out, but just barely.  Gin finished third in the second round, and third in the aggregate. We were the crying hole winners.   As they say, better luck next time.
In the end, Tyler Hartig was looking for an ATM to cash his large cheque - about 2 feet x 4 feet in size.  Randy Dye , George Walker,  Kaylene Forsyth, Corey Perry, and Bob Stephens were behind him at the line to the ATM.
A supper was fed to the handlers - and some more visiting was done before Chris and I headed off back east (with one more dog traveller - Ky).  Stormy winter weather once again raised hell as another snow warning was given out. We made it back to Mildred's that night, and in the morning Chris made her way to work, and I made my way back to Saskatchewan, via Shaunavon and Jamie VanRhyn's.  The thought was to possibly train some dogs, but that soon blew out of my mind after a tire on Dora blew.  Nights in shining armor (or at least in blue coveralls) came to my rescue and a tire was changed.  Yet some more visiting was done, and I finally made it home - maybe not at quickly as it could have been since I made a wrong turn, and ended up on a not-to-well-travelled road.  That is probably the only time I will be thankful for stormy winters, since it kept the road frozen enough for me not to dip out of sight in the mud that would surely have been there if the weather was nice.
A few days, and yet another trip will happen - back to Alberta with Chris Jobe to a clinic (first one for me ever - should have done it years ago I guess) at Okotoks.  I do believe there is a threat of nice weather.  I will believe it when I feel it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Are You Sick Of Stormy Winters?

Old Man Winter sure doesn't know when he isn't invited somewhere.  Blowing wind only to block things seemed to be his main job this year.  Just when you think he had weakened, and the weather had become nice and the day was bright, another bout of cursing wind would occur, spewing up loads of unwanted white crap.  Sometimes that snow which flew from his mouth would hurt like sandpaper as it was hurled towards someone.  Often, the wind would blow for days, and then change directions, and blow in the opposite way. It was almost like a broken record-the same storm, over and over again it would seem. Winter certainly wasn't very nice this year, it caused a lot of hard work and heartache for many a person and animal.
Winter sure was the talk of the town for 2013 - negatively affecting many individuals all across North America - heck, even in Britain.  Its effects will not be forgotten quickly.  The price of winter's damage can be high.
I hope soon that spring will come and kick this stormy winter square in the backside.  I have had quite enough of it, as I am sure as others has as well. 
Hopefully the chill of this winter snow will be a memory of the past. 
Winters will come and go, and we will survive them with careful planning.  Unfortunately, we all have to weather the storm at times.  We have to open the door when Old Man Winter starts to knock, but we can protect ourselves from the sting of the cold with a little insulation, and hugs from a loved one...and an Elmer Fudd cap.
And when stormy winters get you down too much - always remember Spring is just around the corner.
Or.... you can escape to Mexico for a vacation.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Truth Will Set You Free

Well, it surely has been an interesting time in our lives.  They say that there are things that won't kill you, but will definitely make you stronger.  In that case, I am the world's strongest woman.  It started with a mistake ....a mistake which had made a huge cloud of doom over my life. 
No more gossiping, here it is ....straight from the horse's mouth.
There has been an SPCA investigation occurring at our place.  Now, if I didn't say anymore about it, the judgements would likely roll, even without knowing the whole story - and that is exactly what the gossiping did.
The story is this, we have about 1000 mouths to feed around this place, 300 of those mouths belonged to our main cow herd.  In a ranching situation, it is acceptable to place them on winter grazing, which we did.  I pregnancy checked the cows in the fall, the thinner cows were brought home to feed with the heifers, and the rest went back to winter grazing ground - where I didn't see them.  Chris is the rancher and caregiver of the cattle, I am only the rancher's wife.  I see the cows when I can - sometimes at calving- when I am not helping someone else with a prolapsed uterus or a calving-at branding, to help move the herd, at weaning, and at preg-checking.  Really a very small amount of time when you add it all up. When you are owners on paper, you are also liable for those animals.   The water was opened up when the thermometer dipped, and minerals were given based on feed tests.  The plan was to bring them back home in late December/January (as we did last year) to the calving grounds.  That is when Mother Nature played her nasty tricks.  Blizzard upon blizzard happened, roads became impassable, and the cows were stuck. Plenty of feed was on hand, but unfortunately unable to get the feed to the cows, and the cows unable to get home.  I kept asking if things were fine, and I was told yes.  I went off to work in Alberta, and when I returned at end of February, I was told that the horrific thing that happened.  Another blizzard had hit, and with the wind (which occasionally likes to blow here) made the cattle drift - and they drifted to the end of the fence line, along the road, where the grader man, who was clearing the roads, found them.  They had piled in the corner, and the weaker ones - and yes, starving -died.  Twelve out of 300 were gone -1.2% of all the mouths - a needless death. That is when the SPCA was called out, and that is when the neighbors helped - paths were cleared by tractor so the rest of the cows could come home. Asking for help should not have been hard to do, if I had known the true dilemma, I would have asked help on behalf of Chris - but being the hard headed German he is, and figuring he can do everything, it has landed us in the worst time of our lives.
The rest of the animals at home, the sheep, yearlings, heifers, bulls and horses - were all in good condition - because they were getting fed.  Now they had a concern about how the border collies were - in their runs we use barrels and lots of straw - thinking this was a grand idea from people I had talked to , I decided I would do it as well.  That was a mistake.  Guess I have some dog houses to build in the future.  I have been studying the Code Of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations, and did you know the minimum space for a border collie is 1.86 square meters (that is 20 square feet)?  That is slightly smaller than my 8 foot x 4 foot kennels - guess I did that right.  Apparently, tethering of dogs as a primary method of confinement is not acceptable.  The position statement on the humane training methods for dogs is also a very interesting read.
We have been working with the SPCA regarding this, the cows have put on loads of weight since they have got home, and improvements where they asked has been done.  There has been no charges laid - I am not sure if there will be, since the investigation is ongoing.
So the gossip started, suddenly it was 60 dead,  all the animals were starving, ect, ect. Certain people gossiped, allowing sewage to spew from them, and others believed them.  More people were called, resulting in more heartache for me.  The true colors of people came out as well - some of them had the decency to actually phone and ask how we were doing, not searching for information, but only searching to find if we were okay.  Others told me of their personal experiences, knowing exactly what we were going through.  When people believed that I was giving up on the dogs, I had even more people contact me with support and dismay (sorry about the April Fool's trick, it worked really well).
Talk about a test for the marriage.  It has been a hell of a storm for us, emotions like a tsunami, hitting on the side of the boat in every direction.  At this time we are still floating.
I felt that things were coming down to a simmer, when suddenly, things came to a boil again in my life.  I received a letter from my veterinary regulatory board - and a complaint from a person involved with the SPCA was concerned that as a veterinarian, I should not have let this happened.  They were concerned that I allowed my dogs to be in distress because of the improper shelter, and because I should have known about the cows.
Yup, I guess I will have to learn to drive the tractor, so I can feed the cows.  And clean the crystal ball up so I can see what is going on when I am away working.
So yet another fight is occurring, the fight of my life.  I have worked very hard to become a vet- I love being a vet - many can't say they wake up enjoying to go to work.  I have followed the rules set by the association and have gone to education seminars to get better at what I do.  Don't ask me for a prescription drug without looking at your dog...I won't do it.
The requested written letter was sent to the SVMA by me, explaining my side of the story.  I do hope they understand that side of the story, and see that I would do no harm to my dogs - they are a large important part of my life.
And I ponder, if the SVMA board got letters from others, would that help my case?
I guess that is only if you believe me, and believe in me.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Joke's On Me

Yup, there is a fool born every minute-but a lot more on April Fool's Day. Perhaps I should get an Emmy for my ability to tell a believable story. Perhaps I can get a job in the political field or a car salesman. All I need is a plaid jacket. I did an April Fool's joke last year, and was believed well into September-that has to be Guinness Book of World Record worthy. 
We will nip this one in the bud though. I will still be doing the dogs, and at the moment none of the dogs have ticked us off bad enough to get a "for sale" sign above their kennel door . I guess I even fooled myself- I had thought that nobody would miss me if I left the trial world- but I was wrong. Phone calls and text messages told me differently. Not all the blog post was a fib - we will still do the Western Canadians- and a bang up job will be done.
Maybe I am like a border collie - hold me back from a job and I want it more desperately. But unlike my dogs, I can't always sniff out the untrustworthy type - the wolf in sheep's clothing.  Maybe it is the cologne masking the stench underneath which prevents me from sniffing them out.
Believe me (yes, you can believe me, it isn't April 1st), they say Karma is a bitch-just not sure if it is a tri-color or traditionally marked.


Monday, April 1, 2013

This Ain't No April Fools Joke

As you gathered from previous blogs, there has been quite a difficult situation in which I had to deal with.  Mentally exhausting it has been, since there has been a lot of thinking about it....not only by me, but by others as well.
One question is "Where do I go from here?"  I have decided to continue to organize and host our Hilltop Trial in August, along with the Western Canadians, and go out with a bang.
We are awfully busy around this place, and I don't think we will have the time to do the amount of trialing anymore.  We still will need dogs to work the stock, but we won't need as many. 
It was difficult to say who was to stay, and who was to go...we have been quite lucky over the years, and people who have got our youngsters have been happy as well - I think that can attest to program we have followed - breeding the best to the best.
You have to forgive my videography skills (hard for me to walk and chew gum at the same time), but this short piece is showing my young dog Mitch working.
Maybe slightly dyslexic at times - but still a nice dog.
This fellow works sheep as well as cattle - here is a taste of that.
I hope that when you go to trials, or congregate around the old watering hole, you'll remember me for what I hope I portrayed - an honest, fair, hard-working gal who could occasionally run a pretty good dog, and share a good laugh.