Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dowerin Three Sheep Trial

held at the Dowerin Field Day, 25th and 26th of August 2010


  • Dowerin was again a fantastic trial- excellent organisation and facilities, “interesting” sheep, nice prizes and all the fun of the fair (the Dowerin Field Day). Just as good as last year!
  • The weather was bright and shiny, just right for an Ag Show.
  • R and Farmboy came along this year, thanks to R working non-stop for the last few weeks. It’s hard to know whether R or Farmboy were more excited. We’ve been hearing about the “TRACTOR FAAIIIR!” for weeks. And Ginger Biscuit enjoyed her second Dowerin Field Day, except she was ex-utero this time.
  • They ran a fun “farmers” yard event for the first time, which was good fun.
  • R’s young dogs all worked well- he penned with Fly in both their runs, Trim did some really nice work, and Bonnie also worked her first ever obstacle and then went on to pen for a 69 to come 5th in the Novice.
  • I ran Fred again, and he actually worked for me and was as much fun to work as always. It was just about the most fun I’ve ever had working a dog- he’s such a smiley, good natured old chauvinist, I wanted to boot him up the bum so much it made me laugh.
  • Bill tried hard- in the Novice, some difficult sheep were having a lend of him, threatening to push him back up the ground, so he took one aside and had a little word in its ear. I thought I retired, but apparently we were disqualified first. In the Open, he was running in the heat of the day and was basically stuffed by the time we reached the pen. It’s hard working hauling that much fur and flubber around a trial ground. Our obnoxious sheep just wouldn’t look in the pen, so we timed out. I was very happy with him anyway.
  • Queani won the Open. We were lucky to have a morning run, when the sheep were calmer- all the top 5 Open places were morning runs for this reason. But I was still really pleased with Queani- she did work well.
  • It was a non-point scoring trial, so we don’t break our Improver status.
  • I scored some nice new boots, which I actually really needed!
  • I drove down to Perth after the trial to spend a few hours with my parents. The kids loved it!
  • No rain.
  • Coldest mornings ever.
  • We’d overloaded the powerboard at the campground, so no-one could use heaters or even a kettle without blacking everyone out. We missed our morning cuppas.
  • We arrived late on Tuesday night, missed the communal barbecue, and so we were left with a huge quantity of potato salad I’d brought for that purpose. And we had spud salad for dinner three nights running.
  • It was a non-point scoring trial, so our win kind of doesn’t count.
  • It’s the State Champs next weekend, and now I’ve gone and used up all my luck, so I can only anticipate disaster…
  • R ended up judging the Open. We’d promised Farmboy that Daddy would take him to see ALL the tractors on Thursday, so I had to take him instead. Apparently “Mummies aren’t in CHARGE of tractors!”, so I was a poor substitute.
  • R was too busy judging to run any of his dogs in the yard, which was a pity, because Jake would have enjoyed it.
  • I would also have enjoyed watching Jake handle those sheep. I ran Queani in the yards, the sheep were hot and cranky and standing up, and when she tried to force she was smashed into the back railing and went lame on her back leg. I lost the plot and couldn’t even finish the rest of the course. Where was Jake when we needed him?
  • Pulled a muscle in my neck, which made it hard to keep an eye on the dogs.
So far, pros > cons, so I guess it was a thumbs-up for our Dowerin trip!

The “interesting” sheep, looking innocent as lambs (with Boylee Murphy):sheep murphy

The sheep were made even more interesting by a light aircraft and an insanely loud contraption resembling the lovechild of a lawnmower and a parachute (apparently its called an “aerochute"), which were doing flyovers of the trial ground pretty constantly throughout the day.


Frank Sutherland, distracted from judging the Novice:frank para

Yes, it was really that low:
 aerochute 1

1) Ivan Solomon Perangery Floss (collie) 84 10:05
2) Ray Sutherland Ramulam Penny (collie) 83 11:59
3) Jenny Nolan Rocky Edge (collie) 78 8:48
4) Gibb Macdonald Boylee Poppy (collie) 73 9:42
=5) Neil Eastough Grassvalley Jack (collie) 62 ?
=5) Richard McGuire Binnaburra Bonnie (kelpie) 62 ?

Novice Worker's Prize- Sarah Somers
Best Cast/Lift/Draw in Novice- Peter Doherty with Ramulam Jen or Jude (not sure which dog)
Best Work on Non-cooperative sheep in Novice- Ray Sutherland with Ramulam Penny

1) Rod Forsyth Binnaburra Basil (kelpie) 84 10:45
2) Gordon Curtis Binnaburra Maggie (kelpie) 80 7:25
3) Ray Sutherland Swagman Cyndy (collie) 79 ?
4) Marianne Rogers Christies Cocoacina (collie) 74 10:12
=5) Gordon Curtis Binnaburra Sasha (kelpie) 69 11:10
=5) Grant Cooke Grassvalley Moss (collie) 69 ?

Best Cast/Lift/Draw in Improver- Grant Cooke with Grassvalley Moss
Best Work on Non-cooperative sheep in Improver- Neil Eastough with Grassvalley Jack

1) Sam Weaver Daheim Queani (collie) 86 9:30
2) Ivan Solomon Perangery Floss (collie) 83 11:23
3) Gibb Macdonald Boylee Poppy (collie) 82 11:27
4) Rod Forsyth Binnaburra Basil (kelpie) 79 8:32
5) Grant Cooke Grassvalley Moss (collie) 78 11:52

Best Cast/Lift/Draw in Open- Grant Cooke with Grassvalley Tod
Best Work on Non-cooperative sheep in Open- Jenny Nolan with Nolans Jackie

Fly running just after dawn on Wednesday, when the ground and the sheep were still  frozen together:fly sheep
fly bridge

Jenny Nolan and Rocky Edge (Nolans Roy x Rocky Bear):jenny edge

Ray Sutherland and his young bitch, Ramulam Penny (R. Gus x Olboa Merle):ray penny pen

The Binnaburra kelpies did really well on these sheep, keeping hold of the sheep without upsetting them.

Gordon Curtis’ Novice bitch, Binnaburra Sasha (B. Tuff x Ramulam Sam):sasha 1

Jenny Nolan and Nolans Jackie, who did some wonderful work in the Open and were just a bit unlucky:jenny n jackie

New trialler Jenny Whitelock and Boylee Murphy (B. Popeye x B. Mouse) at the gap:jenny w murphy

Malcolm Seymour’s Euroa Nell (Stoneyridge Harry x Glenview Ruby):nell 2

Frank Sutherland’s Rocky Bear:
 bear sheep

Neil Eastough’s Grassvalley Jack (Badgingarra Toppie x Grassvalley Lisa):jack 1

Grant Cooke and Grassvalley Magpie:
 grant magpie

Our little Torbay Trim (Boylee Fred x Tig- Imp UK):trim sheep

She might not have won, but R loves her anyway…trim r

And she ought to be a frontrunner in the “Shinest Nose” stakes, if you ever get extra points for that.trim nose

And here’s Trim’s sire, our old man Boylee Fred (B. Pepper x B. Creamy):

Just for the heck of it, we entered Fred as one of my dogs for this trial. I wasn’t expecting much- he ran well for me at Dowerin last year, but that’s because R was 500km away. But our previous attempt at trialling together (Margaret River, 2007) ended in tears when he stood beside me, poised, by the casting peg but refused to cast until he’d heard R’s voice. Fred’s rule is that he’ll work for me as long as R isn’t anywhere nearby. So this time we planned that long before our Open run together, R would take the kids and disappear to look at tractors, well away from the trial ground.

As it turned out, this didn’t work out because R was judging.

It took some encouragement to get Fred to walk with me to the casting post, but when the buzzer sounded Fred actually ran out- not the direction I’d asked for, but beggars can’t be choosers. He did a nice cast/lift/draw, handled the touchy sheep very well, and we got around the post and set off for the gap. He argued with me in his affable way about almost everything, but we managed to get through both the gap and race and up to the bridge without too much drama. But then, as we approached the bridge, he remembered The Real Boss was away behind him. Maybe it was the fact that he’d have to cross the Real Boss to hold the sheep to me, maybe it was R’s crouched position, maybe it was just that Fred didn’t want us to think he’d changed allegiances. Off he went to R, tail wagging, while I stood helpless in the worker’s circle, begging and pleading.
Suddenly, as I was desperately calling for him to “Push up”, he turned around and came back, manouvered the sheep onto the bridge and over, and I strode out of the circle on my way to the pen. Asked afterwards if he’d given Fred a command to get him to come back to work for me at the bridge, R admitted, “I gave him a command alright- nothing to do with sheep though!”

But yet again, he looked at R across the paddock and froze. The sheep were walking quietly, but as they passed Fred and I kept walking, it became obvious that unless Fred moved, I was going to cross behind him. I begged, I pleaded, I may even have threatened, but Fred’s attention was rivetted on R, and he wouldn’t move. So cross behind him I did, and we were disqualified. All three of us, R, Fred and me, left the ground laughing- it was brilliant fun. Apparently we were on a good score, too.

More brilliant fun- the Farmboy, Ginger Biscuit and a sheepdog trial and 'tractor fair' combined!

3 kids

Happiness is:

 First icecream for the Ginger Biscuit:
gb icecream

Farmboy and a whole field of boats:



Big machinery:


And little machinery:

Happiness is brothers and sisters:
fb gb 2
  fb gb laughs 3   

gb laugh 1

Happiness isn't...
Ben, on leash for the first time:


And so, on to Ballidu for the State Champs…


Sunday, August 22, 2010

And still more babies!

Baby dogs this time.

It’s always hard when pups go to new homes. Even when you know they’re going to an excellent home, even when you’ll be getting updates and the chance to see them in their working career, watching them go out into the big wide world in someone else’s arms chokes you up a little… Just a very little when you’ve spent weeks fighting off puppy claws and teeth and your garden looks like a war zone. In fact, in that situation it’s less a “choke” in your throat than a tickle .

And sometimes that tickle even turns into a bit of a chuckle. Perhaps, depending on the pups, a fully fledged laugh.
But generally there’s a wistful feeling there too.

 That’s particularly true when you’re trying to decide which pup should stay on as your next prospect. And when the two pups you have to choose between are both absolute crackers.



That was R’s dilemma this week, and that’s how he came to give Ben and Kevin a quick look at sheep- they’re really too young, we’d normally wait until they’re a bit bigger, but it seemed a better idea than eenie-meenie-miney-mo. Really, choosing a pup based on their behaviour on sheep at 10 weeks old is about as scientific as eenie-meenie- based on their breeding, they should all work and a later starter might well turn out to be the best dog. But a decision had to be made, and that’s how R made it.

 So Kev has followed his litter sisters away to a new home (scattered around the state from Coorow to Ravensthorpe), and Ben will stay here. He won’t do much more on sheep until he’s significantly bigger, at least big enough to be faster than the sheep.

 Speaking of faster than sheep (and more rambunctious and unruly), the Black Pups also had a look at sheep this week. Surprisingly, they aren’t that big though. Huh!

Boss (tan leather collar), Alfie (purple collar) and our lad Ollie (red collar):

Saturday, August 21, 2010

On the subject of babies…


We’ve finished lamb marking. It took R and the team a week, give or take a day or two, up to two thousand a day, and they’re all done. So now we stand a chance of being able to make Dowerin trial next week!
There’s nothing like moving mobs of ewes and lambs to cause hair-pulling, voice-raising, sanity-shredding frustration. But this year I resolved to remain Zen about the whole thing, to only take dogs with half an idea what they’re doing, and to go at lamb pace, no matter what the rest of the family say. It worked reasonably well most of the time.

The Team- Bill and Queani
bill q mirror
The Opposition- Ewes and Lambs
ewes lane

It’s surprisingly difficult to film and work sheep simultaneously. I always get lots of quick cuts to my boots, the grass, my boots tripping over the grass, and the underside of the Special New Ute as I drop the camera climbing back in. Here’s a little clip of sheepwork- Queani casting and bringing the mob down the paddock… she's the little black dot you can see behind the sheep if you hunch up by the screen and squint.  And here’s Bill deliberately misinterpreting my request to “Load back up on the ute, Bill!”- “Back? Did you say ‘Back’? Of course I can Go Back!”. He's the big black lunk leaping around in the foreground.

There’s always one, isn’t there?
lamb fence

bill sheep
bill 2

queani sheep
queani ute

One thing about lambs is that they like to climb things. Regardless of the situation, if there are lambs about, they will be climbing on something. Much like small children, really.

One lamb.
lamb rock

Two lambs.
2 lambs rock

Many lambs.
lambs log

My favourite flavour- ginger lambs!
ginger lambs

And just in case that wasn’t enough lamb action for you, towards the end of the week I took my camera along for another lamb-venture, moving a mob along a couple of kilometres of roadway to the yards for tailing the next morning. 

Some dubiously fenced crops and creekline along the way, one man with a deadline and an aching ankle, one woman who kept stopping to take photos and remind the man about “the Zen of sheepwork” and how to make more speed, less haste, a couple of hungry human children in the ute, the sun beginning to set…

Family bonding time at its best!

  sheep road web compress
sheep road