Monday, June 27, 2011

Live sheep transport

In the absence of my camera, I am taking the opportunity for long overdue discussion of some important topics.

Now this is a blog that has always stepped up to tackle the big issues, the hard issues, the issues that have other blogs running scared. One such topic is live animal export and livestock transport and slaughtering. Obviously this has been a source of much debate in the community and the media lately, resulting in a real illumination of the city-country divide, societal attitudes to animal welfare and the reality of food production for many (no, meat doesn't grow on Woolies freezerpacks...).

I sat down with a local livestock producer to record his views on issues related to transport of sheep and their fate after the saleyards.
(alright, it was 2010 at Ballidu)

Never let it be said that this blog shies away from the real issues...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

An unillustrated life

So I’d scheduled blog posts about recent events here: the end of seeding (thank God!), a couple of fun days at Nan Lloyd’s training clinic, new pups, and the Avondale 3sheep trial. But unfortunately I was too lazy to download the 2GB of accompanying photos from my camera before we headed off to Avondale, so when my camera just disappeared while we were at the trial, I lost all those photos. And in my camera-less depressive sulk, I haven’t felt much like blogging. There’s nothing worse than a picture-less blog.

Anyway… This week someone lovely lent me their pocket point ‘n shoot, so I have a little bit of blogging mojo back, and I won’t have to fall back on my alternative plan for illustrating our adventures:

Bill at the bridge

Nan’s training day was fun. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to make it, but was glad we did. Mabel (7 monthish) had a go on sheep, and so far I’m pretty happy with her. We saw one of her litter sisters, Katie, who is a teeny weeny version of her mother, right down to the one tipped ear. Copper had another look at sheep and is a different dog to the last time, and again does look like he might suit me. I managed to get some stops from Fly, and it may have been my imagination, but I think she was working in a much more considered and thoughtful way. R worked Harry and Finn, and thinks they may be up for a 3 sheep trial this year. Nan has a writeup at the bottom of the page here.

Avondale was a nice trial. The sheep were excellent- challenging but workable. The Novice and Improver sheep were very obstacle friendly if you could get them through the race, but the Open sheep stood up quite a lot at the bridge particularly, and quite a few dogs had trouble forcing there. I judged the Novice, which was good fun and definitely less stressful than kid-wrangling while R judges, so I shall be keen to do it again. I ran Fly just once, in the Improver, and nearly died of shock when she started taking commands on the fetch and carry. It all went a bit feral at the race, but obviously actual training can make a difference in some cases- who’d have thought?!

I didn’t have high hopes for Queani or Bill, given that they are both fat and flabby, and have hardly done any exercise, let alone work, for weeks. But Queani was on fire- she worked really well in the Improver for an 81 and equal 3rd, and was going even better in the Open when I called her to me, opening up a gap and when the sheep ran she crossed.

Bill was also on fire, but not necessarily in a good way. He just wanted to shift sheep, and was back to the Bilby of old, leaping and hustling. I can’t remember what happened in the Improver, but in the Open he had some fairly tough sheep that tried to give it to him, particularly at the bridge. Considering the number of dogs that retired there when their dogs wouldn’t force the sheep off, I was shocked when Bill just motored straight up onto the bridge with hardly a word from me (twice!), going nose to nose with a sheep who made the mistake of coming back at him. We got to the pen, and when I was almost ready to strangle him for not coming across to cover my side of the pen mouth, letting the sheep go around that way, he finally got them in. Not a great score, but I was totally stoked with him. Obviously not actually training (or exercising) can make a difference in some cases...

Actual pictorial write-ups here and here.

It looks like we won't be making it to the next trial, Binnaburra Yard/utility, and maybe not Mukinbudin Y/U after that... But at least it's raining!