Fall back to spring planning
The pasture is covered with leaves; the maples are leafless. The mud is here (to stay) and with one frost down, and more to come, the garden is mostly done. It was a big day on the farm, and I spent most of the day outside, after being gone almost all day yesterday. Damn, but weekends are short! I did more carrot harvesting in the garden, expecting to find the mondo cutworms again, but oddly only found one. They must be moving on to some other part of their life cycle and/or the cold and wet has them doing something different. Since I picked off all the monsters from the cabbage a few weeks ago, I have some tiny heads of cabbage developing. It’s Savoy cabbage, and I’m hoping to have enough to make a meal at some point. Tonight I had a baked Delicata squash – a little salt and pepper and butter (everything’sbetterwithbutter) and I’m full and happy.
Yesterday was Daisy’s last nose work class for a few weeks. She was just “meh” for some reason. She and Pal were racing around the woods that morning, so maybe she used up too much energy? Or maybe the search area (on a footbridge over a tributary of the Skykomish river where salmon were spawning) was too much? She’s done brilliantly there before, though, and just seemed off in general. Especially compared to last week, where even her handicap (her handler (me)) couldn’t slow her down. She was so rockin’ on, even through a wild wind/rainstorm, as we hunted outside the local Lowe’s hardware store (in racks and storage area, also in a storage container). I was drop-jawed in awe, and giddy with her mad skillz! My crazy Daisy is my Amazing Daisy.
The next day I volunteered at a nose work trial being held about 40 miles south. There were a few dozen dogs competing for NW1, and I assisted in the afternoon, along with my instructor Marilyn, and classmates Pat and Suzette. I was assigned videographer for the interior searches. I was a little worried (do they realize I’m lousy with a camera?) but it turned out to be a breeze. The judge, Teresa Zurberg from Canada, was great, and very instructive/helpful to the handlers competing.
I learned a TON, and got to hang with Dorothy Turley and Karen Eby, whom I met when I attended the Amy Herot seminar they hosted back in September. Fun! Dorothy hosted an ORT the weekend prior, too, so I’d just
seen her. I entered Farley and Pal in the ORT, and drove down to Lacey that Sunday morning. I wasn’t as nervous as I was with Daisy’s ORT, but still nervous. Farley went first, and nailed it in 7 seconds. It was a good lesson for me, as I called it as soon as he stopped and double-sniffed the hide box. As I did so, and the judge said “yes!” he moved on to the next box in the group, looking for odor that also had some TREATS! I treated at source and he was happy. As was I! My old guy, my heart dog, my amazing ‘there are no coincidences’ dog, made me proud. As usual he got all kinds of compliments on his handsomeness, and even a comment on our search word “Feathers” (I found that at the trial most people use “find it,” “seek,” “search,” or some variation of same; because I have three dogs in training, it’s much easier to use a unique word that has nothing to do with the meaning “search”). He did me proud, and I wished I had more than just liver treats and heaps of praise to tell him how wonderful he was/is.
Pal’s turn came up quickly and I went in feeling excited. As we waited our turn I could tell Pal was in his “bird dog” mode – sniffing the wind, all senses open, not really focused on me or anything as he took it all in. Hmm. We went in and I could see that he was firing on all cylinders but not settling into it. I gave his search word and he
began to search, sniffing the first two boxes. He quickly went off target and began to hyper up, sniffing but not focusing. I gave his search word again (and again) and he briefly dialed in, but was pinging all over the place. It was ADHD behavior; not bad, but definitely not able to focus. I brought him back to the boxes (he was at the end of the lead, looking all around the room) and he seemed to pay attention to one of them. I called it, kind of knowing it was a shot in the dark, and nope, it wasn’t it. The hide turned out to be an entryway hide (first box) and though he sniffed that box as we’d started, he didn’t react at all. Oh well. All he needs is more time to get consistent. He’s awesome when he’s on (as he was in class this past week – A-mazing), but he’s not consistent yet. I love him to bits and look forward to getting his ORT next time!
As I mentioned, today was a big day on the farm. Colin the ram came to visit, and got right to business. He’s owned by my friend Sally, and is a puny little guy with a butter-soft fleece. Being a bantam weight ram didn’t slow him down; he entered the pasture with the confidence of a ram twice his size. He looks like a mini-sheep next to the Black Welsh Mountain boys (not huge themselves) and definitely less threatening to the girls (one hopes). The youngsters – Minnie, Lorna, and Nona – are all in a nervous dither, keeping their distance (especially Lorna and Nona). Pebbles stood her ground and lowered her head “you little runt, I’ll show you!” and Colin quickly set her straight. “Um, hello, ewe, I’m here at your service and by the way, I have horns and know how to use them.” She quickly realized her mistake and retreated. He wasn’t a jerk about it, but neither was he going to take any guff. Cinnamon, my shy, feral moorit ewe, was the only one who put out the welcome mat for Colin. Timing is everything of course, and she was obviously glad to see a ram. You could almost see the thought bubble over her: “Finally! Where have you been for the past two months?!” Though the mechanics were off (he’s really short and needs to find a rock to stand on…) he’ll be here for the next five or six weeks and I have faith they’ll all figure it out. There’s plenty of hillside here to facilitate height differences.
Sally stayed for a half an hour or so and we enjoyed a good chat while watching the flock to make sure everyone was settling in. After she left with her cute little Border
Collie pup, Gemma (squeee!), I let the dogs out. They were inside to keep things quiet outside (and because the driveway gate was open), and were very excited to see/smell things after Sally left. The boys settled down after the obligatory perimeter search, but Daisy…well, Daisy was her wild self. She, of course, couldn’t leave well enough alone. While I’m sure all three dogs registered the fact that there was a new sheep on the pasture (ram smell!), Daisy IMMEDIATELY zeroed in on that fact, and him, and spent the next two or three hours running the fence line, bark/yipping at him incessantly. Thankfully Colin was nonplussed. He knew Daisy was there (how couldn’t you?) of course, but didn’t freak out or change behavior. He was much too interested in his new ewes. Meanwhile Daisy barked and barked and barked and barked, working herself into a lather. While it didn’t bother me all that much (not sure why?), I’m sure the neighbors were enjoying her high pitched yapping (not!) as she ran up and down the hill along the fenceline. By the time she began to slow down a bit (no exaggeration, it was at least three hours of running up and down),
there was a muddy rut worn into the grass along the fence. The barking diminished after the first hour or so, but she was still focused on this new sheep.
It kind of surprised me that she noticed there was a new sheep—out of 10 sheep (can she count, too?) she was completely focused on Colin—and that she got hyped up to the degree she did. Maybe it was his diminutive size that had her so excited? He’s smaller than she is, no exaggeration there, and maybe she felt he was one she could take on? On the plus side, it gave me a chance to play ball with Farley without her normal interference, and we took full advantage of it. When she finally gave it up and calmed down it was almost dusk, and I fed and watered the chickens and sheep, and prepared to head inside. She’s been sleeping ever since. Ahhh.