Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ummm, Spring?

It’s lovely to see you, of course- your clear early mornings, birdsong calling us out of our beds into the day, the world humming with sunshine and blossom under blue ,blue skies. You’re a lovely time of year.

 But, you see, we were expecting Winter to arrive first… You know, that season where water falls from the skies and fills the dams and tanks, where the ground soaks until dust becomes mud and we squelch in our gumboots through gullies filled with knee high grass.

October last year
 Not this year. I don’t know what happened to Winter- sure, we had the odd shower, an occasional thunderstorm, and there was a week or two where we shivered into our woolly wear in the mornings. But no rain. Practically none. I don’t know where Winter took its rain, but it didn’t bring it here.

And what that means, Spring, is that no matter how warm your sunshine or how busy your bees, nothing can grow or thrive. The ground is rock hard or blowing dust, the tanks are empty, the crops struggle and the pastures are grazed bare by hungry sheep. Even the veggie garden looks as sad as it’s ever been.

My lettuces have seen better days
Artichoke- the only thing thriving in the veg patch
 After only half the usual rainfall for the year to date, we’ve given up watching the evening weather report and hoping for a miracle. I think it’s almost past the point of salvage. This is a really, really bad season.

For our city friends enjoying the warm spring weather and wondering why farmers are always whinging, think of it this way. Every day you go to work, taking pride in your work and pleasure in the income you’re expecting. Imagine that one day, the boss announces that if there hasn’t been a semi-full rain gauge by the end of September, he’ll be shredding all your work for the year, and you won’t get paid. You’ll keep going in, slogging away at your projects, and hoping for rain, but as the days tick past and the skies stay clear, your boss starts stacking your files by the shredder and you start to wonder why you bother even turning up for work. That’s farming in a bad season. Psychiatrists and money men discussing suicide and selling up on the radio, grim faces exchanging greetings and damage reports at the farm supply shop, “chin up” events hosted by shires and recreation centres to distract everyone from the dry, wilting world around.

 So no offence, Spring, but can you please rack off and send Winter back to do its job? Cheers.

(Hang about- it’s the Royal Show next week- and it ALWAYS pours for at least one day of the Show… Fingers crossed!)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

State Arena Championships 2010

Ballidu, September 2nd-5th

“Another sheepdog trial?!”
gb sits

Yes, Ginger Biscuit, another sheepdog trial, and this time it was the Big One.

My first time at Ballidu was a good one- it is a really nice trial area, with plenty of room for camping and running dogs. For a location not too far from Perth, it did feel surprisingly like the middle of nowhere, with pitiful mobile reception and no vets for miles around. This was an issue for me, unfortunately, because Bill chose this weekend to develop a mystery illness, which involved dramatic leg cocking and peeing blood, but fortunately was managed with phone consults to veterinary qualified members of the extended trialling community and antibiotics. Thank you again!

Despite the distance, we had an enjoyable trip up to the Northern Districts stomping ground, up through York and Northam (our retirement destination when our Lotto win comes in) to Wongan Hills. As we moved north, the crops became increasingly advanced compared to home, and the weather (and flies!) ominously summery. But they’ve had some good rain recently, so local spirits were high, and the landscape was unbelievably picturesque, a patchwork of bold cereal greens, pastel lupins and iridescent canola yellow, laced together  with delicate borders of scrub eucalypts.

Pendalup Candy and her Grassvalley posse:4 dogs ute
Grassvalley Moss, Grassvalley Magpie (?), and Grassvalley Brook3 dogs ute

We’d heard all the horror stories from the last Ballidu trial about how tough the sheep were, so I was half expecting a mob of horned woolly satyrs clutching pitchforks and swishing demonic tails. Reality disappointed, yet again: they had the horns and needed occasional coercion, but were actually some of the most calm, sensible, forgiving sheep I’ve ever trialled on. They were excellent material for the 3 sheep masters to exhibit their skills, and the high scores reflected this.

Although… they did take some pushing off the bridge at times:sheep bridge
As Glenice Webb demonstrates:glenice bridge

I spent some time at the let out this weekend, just for some variety, which was great fun. You see a different side of the dogs and their work- mainly the backsides…
Badgingarra Dotcom:dotcom

1) Jenny Nolan Faraway Quinn (collie) 84
2) Frank Sutherland Rocky Chick (collie) 78
3) Jenny Palm Badgingarra Lisa (collie) 76
4) Marianne Rogers Christies Cocoacina (collie) 75
5) Rick Janitz Jandoree Dotcom (collie) 74

Rocky Chick:chick
Cuddliest dog at the trial, Chick again:chick face

Badgingarra Lisa:

Glenmar Midge:
midge bridge
midge sheep

1) Wayne Hall Hudsons Tasha (collie) 97
2) Ray Sutherland Swagman Cyndy (collie) 94
3) Frank Sutherland Rocky Bear (collie) 88
4) Malcolm Seymour Euroa Nell (collie) 87
5) Ken Atherton Kiwi Knight (NZHD) 82

Improver winner and dam of the Open winner, Hudsons Tasha:tasha

Ray Sutherland with Swagman Cyndy:ray ccyndy sheepray cyndy

Germaine Seymour and Somerville Lucy:germaine lucy

Open Championship
1) Peter Gorman Avalon Sox (collie) 97 95 192
2) Peter Gorman El Shamah Ellie (collie) 95 96 191
=2) Ivan Solomon Perangery Jill (collie) 97 94 191
4) Gordon Curtis Nolan’s Minnie (collie) 91 81 172
5) Ivan Solomon Perangery Sasha (collie) 94 76 170
6) Wayne Hall Hudsons Tasha (collie) 90 79 169
7) Ivan Solomon Perangery Beck (collie) 94 71 165
8) Gordon Curtis Binnaburra Tuff (kelpie) 91 62 153
=9) Marianne Rogers Christies Cocoacina (collie) 90 61 151
=9) Ray Sutherland Swagman Cyndy (collie) 91 60 151
11) Grant Cooke Pendalup Candy (collie) 90 47 137
12) Grant Cooke Grassvalley Brook (collie) 93 Rtd 93
13) Ivan Solomon Perangery Floss (collie) 92 Rtd 92

Yep, that’s young Sox again- not even a year old, two trials, two Open wins, one State Championship!
Peter Gorman with Avalon Sox (Boylee Wal x Hudsons Tasha):peter sox

Nolan’s Minnie:minnie

Perangery Sasha:ivan sasha

Perangery Floss:floss

Princes Casper:casper

Grant Cooke and Grassvalley Moss:grant moss
Grassvalley Moss:moss 2

Judge’s Award for Best Work in the Novice: Doreen Hansen and Jandoree Molly
Patron’s Trophy (Aggregate): Marianne Rogers and Christies Cocoacina

molly face
Jandoree Molly
Morillo Cinders:cinder

Bellview Teddy:teddy

Glenview Ruth:

Teddy and Ruth's offspring, "Jane"

Some of the Kelpie collection:
Binnaburra Basil:basil
Yarralonga Darkie:darkie sheep
Yarralonga Darkie

Nigel Armstrong with Darkie's granddaughter, Yarralonga Ding:ding race
Yarralonga Ding
Badgingarra Gem
Cagella Kinder
Cagella Kinder
Kinder's daughter, Yarralonga Solo
Our mangy mutts did okay. It was probably Fred’s last trial (yes, really!), at least with R- he went out on a decent note with a pen for a respectable score, but some trouble at the race pinched his chance at a final. R was happy with Trim, very very unhappy with Fly, and a bit disappointed at his handling with Bonnie. Tess was fairly fired up and wasn’t listening.
Pendalup Tess at the bridge:tess bridge

Tom made his debut in the Novice, and was appalling. It felt like I did not even know him- he was slicing everywhere, would not stop, and was generally a dog from another planet. I don’t know whether it was his upset tummy or the presence of bitches in season in the ute with him, but we won’t be repeating the experience any time soon. Pinky’s one run was so disappointing I nearly cried- she stuck on the cast and then wouldn’t pick up the sheep, and the sucky let-out people took them off before I could salvage anything from the experience.

Queani went okay for me, penning in the Improver for a decent score and almost penning for a better one in the Open, but her slack anticlockwise cover let us down, so I retired.  Here she is with our trophy from 2009, the Bill England Memorial Trophy, which unfortunately went home with someone else last year, so we had to rush a quick photo op before it was presented to this year's winner (might be the closest I ever get to this sort of silverware in the trophy cabinet)!queani trophytrophy

Bill got himself massively overexcited spectating before the Novice, seemed away with the fairies and it was not our best work, although he penned beautifully. In the Improver he was more settled, but again was not really himself, and we were on a fabulous score when he shot across in front of me at the bridge and crossed. Of course, in light of the urinary issues that declared themselves later, I can’t blame him. The Open was almost a rerun, but I managed to stop him before he crossed, and we went on to the pen, where we miscommunicated and let the sheep go around the pen twice, ending up with an 87.

Boylee Fred, Badgingarra Jake, Boylee Bill and a bit of Just Esme:4 dogs

Binnaburra Bonnie:bonnie

Rocky Lizzie:lizzie

Future hopeful, Mac’s Ben10:
r ben

And the kids? They had a ball, as usual.

Farmboy did the tourist thing, seeing all the sights from Beverley to Ballidu.
The Beverley aeronautical exhibits:fb plane

The Northam scenery:northam scenery

The Ballidu… sheep:fb sheep

Farmboy was thrilled that his little trialling mate was there, providing hours of truck teamwork and bike races and general small boy biffo

fb m
The Ginger Biscuit got to sit on her bottom in a variety of exciting places, from caravans to bathroom floors to gravel roads:

And the fabulous Nanny Joan kept grumpy kids and frazzled parents smiling.
fb joan

But I’m afraid by the end of four days, we all looked a bit like this:
gb hair
So it's a good thing we're on a break from trialling from now until October!