Wednesday, December 30, 2009

According to Jack...

It's been a great year, and it finished off in top form.

There have been Christmas parties at day care, Father Christmas arriving on a mokobike with presents for everyone... (a ute, boat and trailer for me!)

There has been heaps of time to hang out with Unka Mikey, and play with his new toys.

And Grumpy got up early every Thursday to take me rubbish truck spotting.

And then there was Christmas Day:

Awesome new presents (my pinano is great),

More time with my favourite people in the world,

And a whole day at Matilda Bay.

Next year I'll get a haircut, a baby and a birthday party.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

New season

It's really summer.
It's hot, there's cricket on the radio, flies and more flies, and I'm bucketing water from bathroom and laundry to keep my veggies going. Local bushfires cloud the horizon with smoke and turn the afternoons ominously pink.

Afternoon sun:

There's lots to do on the farm, with shearing and selling lambs and harvesting, simultaneously sometimes. And as of last week, I'm no longer working. No more early morning rush, no more on-call dread, no more RFDS drama or drivers' medical drudgery, no more pay cheques. No more excuses for the mountain of dishes in the sink or the unwashed laundry. The pigsty/office needs organising and the kids' room/junk depository can't wait any longer. Time to knuckle down to my domestic responsibilities. I sound like a housewife. Hey Chel, I think I'm a housewife.

Lots of the lambs have gone off in big trucks, much to BabyJ's delight, and the prices have been good, much to R's delight.

We've just finished shearing, after two weeks became three with intermittent showers and shearing team gastro. But it's all over now.

No photos of shearing this year, you'll have to refer back to 2008 for my favourite time of year on the farm (or the video version), but I have been looking at a bit of this:

This is a great time of year for dogs to get some work as we move sheep here and there for shearing or loading onto trucks or just rearranging the accommodation in various paddocks.

Ziggy waiting to cast around a little mob of lambs:


Fred and lambs:

Ziggy putting lambs through a gate:

Fred and Queani:

Cooling off- Queani:

Bill, wearing his oh-so-subtle "Me, pissing in the dam? Never!" expression:

The extra work is great for everyone, although we have to start organising our days so the sheepwork gets done early when it's cool. By mid-morning sheep just want to camp under any available shade and are difficult to move, and the dogs get knocked up quickly. Some of them (collies especially) have a tendency to get tenderfooted on the hard hot ground, and every year Fly tears off her pad skin in great blistery flaps, leading to dramatic limping and a week or so of enforced rest. Queani did the same thing last week- predictably, she hardly limped until we'd finished work, and then she could hardly walk. Less predictably, she then got off her chain overnight and managed, despite her skinless feet, to dig and chew almost through the weldmesh protecting the chicken coop, creating large enough gaps for her to rip chunks off my two chooks. One lost its head (literally) and my favourite friendly black chook succumbed to her injuries a few days later. Queani and I are still not speaking.

Fortunately I have some young dogs who appreciate the chance for some extra work while Queani is recovering/doing penance.

Finbar putting lambs in the race:

All the dogs wear muzzles for loading out lambs to the abattoir, even though most won't bite- but in Fin's case it's actually a good idea anyway.

Elvis, on the other hand, is an angel and the muzzle is purely ornamental:

Sulking in the dog box- Muddy and Gem:

And harvesting is underway- the canola's done (not a good year for anyone).

Uncle Dave on the header:

The wheat will be next.

Cool mornings and long summer evenings invite longer and more frequent walks with the dogs, and the camera. And that makes all of us happier.






Harvest sunset:

Long walk home:

Full moon and shorn sheep

Monday, November 16, 2009

Binnaburra Tuff

A rather dodgy clip from my still camera- part of Gordon Curtis and Binnaburra Tuff (Jendara Tuff x Binnaburra Connie) running in the Open Final at Albany. They ended up with an 81 for this run, with 89 in the first round, and won the event. We don't usually have commentary at trials- but this was the Albany Ag Show and there's a fair crowd, so it works as a demonstration event too.

Sorry about the quality- dicky satellite broadband keeps dropping out.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Albany Sheepdog Trial

Albany Three Sheep Trial
Albany Agricultural Show

12-14th November 2009

judge: Peter Gorman
1) Grant Cooke Grassvalley Magpie (collie) 82
2) Jenny Nolan Rocky Edge (collie) 81
3) Simon Leaning Fleetfeet Axle (kelpie) 80
=4) Ken Atherton Olboa Merle (NZHDxcollie) 79
=4) Rick Janitz Boylee Elly (collie) 79
Nan Lloyd and Driftz:

Nan's latest recruit, a nameless little Ramulam Gus x Rocky Bear pup:

Euroa Nan (Stoneridge Harry x Glenview Ruby):

Germaine Seymour and Euroa Nan:

judge: Glenice Webb
1) Malcolm Seymour Glenview Ruby (collie) 77
=2) Rick Janitz Jandoree DotCom (collie) 76
=2) Ivan Solomon Perangery Beck (collie) 76
=2) Tony Boyle Bellview Dale (collie) 76
5) Nick Webb Morillo Doff (collie) 73
Euroa Nell (Stoneridge Harry x Glenview Ruby):

Malcolm Seymour and Euroa Nell:

judge: Ken Atherton
1) Gordon Curtis Binnaburra Tuff (kelpie) 89 + 81 = 170
2) Peter Gorman El Shamah Ellie (collie) 81 + 86 = 167
3) Simon Leaning Fleetfeet Axle (kelpie) 88 + 71 = 159
4) Grant Cooke Pendalup Candy (collie) 78 + 78 = 156
5) Malcolm Seymour Euroa Nell (collie) 78 + 68 = 146
6) David Lacey Pendalup Blondie (collie) 91 + 44 = 135
7) Sarah Somers Willeen Archie (collie) 76 + 46 = 122
8) Jenny Nolan Nolans Ceri (collie) 77 + Rtd = 77
9) Jenny Nolan Grassvalley Ella (collie) 74 + DQ = 74
=10) Sam Weaver Daheim Queani (collie) 73 + LS = 73
=10) Yvonne Haynes Boylee Ceilydh (collie) 73 + X = 73
=10) Ivan Solomon Perangery Jill (collie) 73 + DQ = 73
There were a number of special prizes that I missed due to being held hostage at the tractor exhibits by a certain two year old.

This final trial for the year also decided the standings for the 2009 3 Sheep Dog of the Year:
  1. Peter Gorman and El Shamah Ellie
  2. Ivan Solomon and Perangery Jill
  3. Gordon Curtis and Binnaburra Tuff

Dave Lacey and Pendalup Blondie, both originally Sandgropers, now Banana Benders, at the pen:

Pendalup Blondie (Braiston Don x El Shamah Ellie)- our Tess' littermate:

Tess and Blondie's litter sister, Grant Cooke's Pendalup Candy- just delivered 9 pups and trialling already:

Keeping it all in the family, Tess/Candy/Blondie's mother, El Shamah Ellie- 2009 3 Sheep Dog of the Year:

Ivan Solomon's Perangery Jill:

So we made it to Albany- just. We haven't started shearing yet because of the recent rain, but R has been flat out sorting out and loading lambs, and organising for harvest, so it was a last minute decision for him to take Friday and Saturday off. We ended up arriving in Albany on Friday night with the caravan so we'd be there bright and early on Saturday for the majority of the Open runs. I'd entered just Queani, Bill and Fred in the Open, and R hadn't entered anyone, so he was purely spectating and BabyJ-wrangling. I did suggest that he ask about running Fred, but he decided against it. I think we all regretted it, but at least I offered!

The sheep were more workable than last year, but not much. Apparently the Novice and Improver sheep were recently shorn and pretty runny, but the Open sheep were older ewes, rumoured to be unworked by dogs, and they took on every dog right from the lift, chasing a number of dogs down the ground. They really fought the dogs around the first half of the course, but once they went through the race, they generally took the bridge and pen without too much trouble. It was a much better spectator event than last year, when sheep were jumping fences madly before some dogs had even left the post, and I think the stronger sheep gave a battle worth watching for farm and town people alike.

And it was hot- hot and muggy on Thursday and Friday, but on Saturday the wind came in and blew the sheep around, while the sun was hot enough to fry black dogs silly enough to run around more than they had to. No sunburn here though (apart from R's porcelain ankles)- we were prepared!

Even forgetting the weather and the sheep, I really wasn't expecting much from my little team: Bill has been sitting around the house like a fat furry ornament since the Royal, Queani went out loading lambs with R last week and came back lame on that front left shoulder again, and Fred- well, he's not my dog and makes sure I know it, especially when R is around. We've been a bit worried about Queani in particular recently, because she's gone from a real "easy keeper" to really lean even on skinny-dog rations, and has thinned her coat out like she's just had pups. She's been as active and alert as ever, hasn't lost any enthusiasm for work and her coat and eyes are bright, but it's odd in a dog her age. She's overdue for a season, so I'm hoping that this is just a hormonal issue. She might end up coming to Perth with me next week for a vet check anyway.

Queani- cool, calm and collected before her Final run:

In the end, Queani was my best performed dog- she held her ground against some tough sheep and didn't bite them except when I asked for it, and apart from a few arguments about which way she should go, and when, which cost us time and points, she worked calmly and pretty competently to pen for a 73, which just scraped us into the Open Final. She didn't do as well in the Final, seemed to be struggling with her anticlockwise side again, and we had one big difficult sheep who took off over the fence while we were at the race.

Bill, reconsidering his unsuccessful game plan:

Bill- well, he had a wonderful time, far away on Planet Bilby, whereever that is. He'd been in a bit of a mood on Friday, and I thought he would have to bustle these sheep to prevent them taking him on, so I tried to gee him up and get him excited before his Saturday run. Perhaps I overdid it a bit. After a nice cast/lift and a draw where he got a bit confused by the loudspeaker calling his name, he basically barked and leapt around the course like a loon, didn't stop or even pause for breath for the whole run, and the sheep took the obstacles for refuge from the obviously crazy dog as much as anything. By the time we got to the pen he was exhausted and even more fruity, and just wouldn't stop moving long enough for the sheep to look in the pen. We ended up with one of them making a break into the fence and retiring (as per the judge).

Fred was unlucky- I wasn't sure he'd even run for me while R was in the vicinity, but he did a nice cast, brought the sheep down really straight and confidently. As soon as we took off on the carry, one big sheep came trotting towards me with the apparent intention of searching my pockets for oats, walking just a foot or so behind me most of the way. I'm pretty sure there was a pet lamb history somewhere behind it, because by the time we got to the race I was hissing at it and trying to subtly threaten it with my stick to get it away from my knees. Of course the other two were normal sheep who couldn't get far wnough away from me, so they'd break towards the outer side of the race while the big pet would trot over to me for comfort. Fred had no chance of getting them working together, and I retired.

R brought Fly, Tess, Muddy, Finbar and Moss/Moffy for the "experience", which they certainly enjoyed- all day fairground noises, SideShow Alley not 100m away and then an exciting Friday night when the fireworks exploded literally overhead an hour earlier than expected, just 5 minutes after we'd let the dogs loose for a run. Fortunately no-one took off running, and those who initially cowered on our feet soon bucked up when Muddy and Bill were set into action chasing a toy. Moffy absolutely could not have cared less- the louder the better is his motto.

Moffy and Fin:

Fly, chilling out in the crate:

Fin- much more keen on sheepdog trials than fireworks:

Tess-puppy-free and happy to sit back and let her sisters and mother do all the work this time:

So that's it for our trialling year! I don't know when we'll start again in 2010 (or even when I'll be up to it), but for now it's on to real life stuff- canola swathing starts tonight, shearing starts Monday, I've got another three weeks of work, and then sometime after Christmas and New Year we'll be meeting Baby?. And then the fun begins...