Thursday, May 28, 2009


Last Sunday Reese and I returned to the pasture to see what we could do with the sheep without Derek to show us the way. I must say we did great. I was so proud of my little girlie. Once again I thought we would be starting in the round pen and we headed out straight to the large pasture to the sheep. These sheep were very frisky and had a bit of a mind of their own I am told. Since I am not that good with sheep yet I couldn't tell that they were different than any other sheep. They obviously were not Shetlands I knew that. Shetlands is what we had used a year or so ago. Shetlands are very light and quick on their feet. Of course at that time I thought that is how sheep were too. So I guess that means that I am learning about the sheep and herding which is my goal.

I do have to give credit to the other handler that was in the pasture with Reese and I. I first met Wayne when I was at my lesson with Derek. Wayne watched our lesson and attended the clinic that Derek gave and took some lessons. So Wayne has Dereks techniques down pretty good and that was very helpful for Reese and I. When I was losing it in the field Wayne just stepped in and took control and worked Reese and got her back on track to where I could pick her up again.

Our education continues on Saturday and I will try to get some picutres of Reese working stock. Also, I am going to try and bring the sheep down into the pasture for us to use so that I can start to learn how to move the sheep myself without the help of a faithful collie dog. If I learn to the move the sheep than it will be much easier for me to, be more comfortable around them which will help Reese understand that I am in control of the situation and that she is my assistant and it will make it easier for me to tell Reese what I want her to do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

There Once Was a Sheepdog Puppy Named Reese....

She dreamed ....

of rolling hills with green meadows full of...

When she grew up and was about 6 months old, her human took her to see if she really understood what sheep were...

Yep, she we went back to Mamma Style's house..

to herd sheep. Reese is still learning and this is what she looked like about a year ago.

Last week we had a lesson with Derek Scrimgeour who won the English National Sheepdog trial in 2008. I was told he had a wonderful way of communicating with the dogs without needing to use hard corrections. He is able to communicate with his body language what he wants the dogs to understand, even those just starting out. I don't have any pictures of our lesson, but it went very well. I was expecting a round pen and instead there was a very large field with about 9 or 10 sheep in it, with 2-3 small lambs. Derek took Reese into the field and I stayed next to Derek as he unclipped her leash and sent her to the sheep. At this point I was not to sure how things were going to go, especially with lambs in there.

Reese did a great job she ran up to the top of the field peeled the sheep off the fence and Derek had her flanking around the sheep. After a few times he started putting the command with the direction he was giving Reese with his body language. A flank is when the dog runs around the sheep on one side or the other. If you think of a clock and the handler is at 6:00 the sheep are in the center of the clock and you send the dog so she is at 12:00. Sending the dog clockwise around the sheep is "Come Bye" and sending her counter clockwise is "Away to Me".

Reese was able to work a long time for Derek as she was working for him in a very controled manner, you could really see her thinking about what she was doing and adjusting herself naturally when needed. He was also able to get her to walk up behind the sheep and stop and lie down. It was wonderful to see my girlie doing what she was meant to do.

After Reese had a break and some water I took her in the field myself. It started a bit badly as Reese ran to the top of the field a few of the sheep including one little lamb ran down to the other end of the field. Reese didn't split them which is not good unless you ask for it, the sheep just did it and the sheep were far enough away by the time Reese caught up with the non-conforming woolies and so we just worked with those sheep on that end of the field. The sheep were sticking to the fence, but I was able to get Reese to back away and give the sheep a little room so they could get about 5-10 feet from the fence. Reese was then able to get behind the sheep and pull them off the fence. I was working on her flanks and we were doing pretty well. By this time Derek had made his way into the pasture to help.

My biggest problem was that I wasn't staying with my sheep enough. That is one of the most important rules. The sheep feel safe with you the human and it is also easier to let the dog know what you want her to do to help with the sheep.

Derek thought that Reese had a lot of potential and could be quite good. She had natural even round flanks and didn't split the sheep, was not nasty to them and didn't grip. She controled herself and stopped when we told her to. She also recalled when I ask, my, my, my what a little darlin' I have. (Usually when dogs are first on sheep they forget all the commands they once knew).

We will be herding again on Sunday so I will write and update on how we do when Derek is not present. It may be a completely different story but I am hopeful that we will take some of what we learned last week out to the flock with us again.

When not dreaming of the real sheepies Reese has Lambie to play with. Actually it is Lambie II
This was Lambie I
which is, ahem, why we now have Lambie II.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The day "The Boss" came to town...

Monday morning I cleaned the garage out and worked in the yard and had my yearly fight with the lawn mower. Grrrr! but I won again. It seems no matter how much STABIL I put in the mower in the Fall after a long cold winter it is never enough to keep things in liquid form for the Spring. Early afternoon I took Reese to the dog park for a run. She really liked that. I love to see her in an all out run. Sometime I hope to get some good pictures so you can see what a long stride she has. She is so fast!!

Then it was time....
Time to go to the.......

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were in town and we had tickets. Tickets for the floor, we were going to try for "the pit". The Pit is the section of the floor closest to the stage which is baricaded off from the other fans on the floor.
We left town mid-afternoon, a little later than my brother had thought(Little did he know it was all part of the plan). Then we got stuck in traffic (again part of the plan).

We got to the concert venue and went to get our wrist bands. These wrist bands had numbers on them that we would line up in, from which they would choose a random number. The random number would be the start of the people that would be allowed into the pit. So we had number 770 and 771. We got our tickets at about 5:00. We had to start lining up at 5:15, so we would all be there for the pit number to be drawn at 5:30. They finally announced that they would allow 600 people into "The Pit". Then they drew the number and it was 758. Whoo Hooo, we were going to "The Pit". So then we had to get in another line according to number and we were given a second wrist band. Then we were finally led down to the floor of the arena. We were the 12th and 13th people into the arena.

On the way down to the floor I jokingly said so when we get down here does the "Pit Crew" bring us some beverages. Well, we were there about 60 seconds and some guy was delivering beer and pop etc. Talk about service. It was perfect timing as we were both thirsty and new it would only get worse with what was to come. So I bought us some beers and we got to know some of the people around us that would be invading our personal space for the next 4 hours.

It was amazing we were right up against the stage. Part of the stage had baricades in front of it even for the pit people but we were front and center, there were no baricades. I was leaning on the stage all night. Here is my brother in front of the stage. He is leaning against the lower part of it and then the next level up is what you see the drums on.

I must admit there were times that I had trouble seeing Max on the drums because some guy was blocking my view - but since his name was Bruce I didn't mind!! So yes, I did get Bruce spit and sweat on me.

I guess that goes to show that if you go often enough eventually you will end up in the front. But still after being at 7 other Springsteen shows it never really occurred to me that we might actually be in the front row right at the stage. I guess we really just wanted to make it into the pit and I never really thought about it.

Here is the set list as taken from
Radio Nowhere
Outlaw Pete
No Surrender
Out In The Streets
Working On A Dream
Johnny 99
The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Raise Your Hand
Good Lovin'
Prove It All Night
The E Street Shuffle
Waiting On A Sunny Day
The Promised Land
I'm On Fire
Kingdom Of Days
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born To Run

Hard Times
Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freezeout
Land Of Hope And Dreams
American Land
Bobby Jean

So while we stood for about 7 hours it was well worth it. A ride home with a quick stop for some caffeine and another late night. The moral of the story is don't fret the traffic or when your sister is late. If neither of these things had occurred we would have had the wrong numbers. Everything happens for a reason, it really does!!

Mother's Day Weekend

Work has been crazy busy these past few months so it didn't help that I went into the last couple of weeks worn out. Brother came home on a Thursday, saw him for dinner. Then he came over to my house to walk with Reese and I through the neighborhood we grew up in, and which I now live in.

Friday night I cleaned the house walked Reese and tried to get to bed early but to follow suit as the previous weeks have gone, once again I got to bed way too late.

Saturday I got up early to drive 90-100 miles to watch a herding demo that some friends were giving at a Scottish Festival. I got held up in traffic and missed the morning demo. Visited with friends for a bit, then drove about 30 minutes to pick up shirts and trinkets for the Race for the Cure Walk on Sunday. After getting the shirts and trinkets, I drove back to the Scottish Festival and watched the afternoon herding demo. Visited some more and then drove the 90-100 miles back home. After feeding the cats and picking up Reese I went to meet the family for dinner. Got home later than I should have, which meant I got to bed later than I should have, par for the course I guess.

Sunday, I got up early around 5:30 got ready to go for the walk. Drove with the family to the walk about 75 miles away. Had a wonderful time. Mom and my sister and I have been participating in the Race for the Cure walk since about 1994 or so. Sister met us there this year as she lives in the opposite direction. Usually it's just us girls, often my niece joins us, and sometimes we let the men in on the fun. It was fun to have brother and dad there this year. Every year we say we will be in the front of the pack so we finish early and every year it seems we end up in the second half. This year we finally did it, we were in the front half and it really did make a difference. The people were much more spread out and the pace was very good, not too fast but not slow either.

Oh, look some cheery participants...

This event has both a 5K race and a 5K walk. There were years long ago back in the day, when I was either in shape enough, or dumb enough to do both. I would run the 5K, quick run back to the car and change my clothes under a blanket, and then get back to my group to walk it all over again. Nope-not this year - these feets were made for walkin'.

This was a special year as it was Mom's 19 year anniversary. Go Mom!!

I'm already planning something special for next year hehe, don't tell her. And no it doesn't involve a train ride, in case you read this Mom. After the walk we went for lunch picked up some raw rabbit for the cats and came home. Where I then got to walk Reese. I had the start of a migraine and so stayed home that night and went to bed early.

It's Been a Busy, Busy Couple Weeks...

Sorry for the delay to those looking forward to the next Sunday night travel post. I realize I have missed a couple updates but as things can sometimes go awry with your travel plans, one must learn to be flexible!

It has been a busy couple of weeks, so thought I would fill you in. First, my older brother was visiting from the other half of the country.
He came home to visit just spend some time hanging out and while he was here celebrated Mother's Day, his birthday, and attend a musical event. Doesn't seem like I was so busy huh, well I'll provide all the details in the next few posts not to mention I think I put 1,000 miles on my car in the last few weeks.

So until next time I'll leave you with this...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Night Travelogue Continues.....

When in Europe it is so easy to travel from one country to another on their wonderful rail system (note to Mr. Obama!). The rails are well maintained and so are most trains. The only warning I would give and you will find out quickly enough is that when the schedule says the train departs the station at 7:43 a.m., well guess what, it really does leave at 7:43 a.m. It is amazing how they keep the trains on schedule, but that is what makes it work so nicely. Riding the rails is a great way to meet the locals and other fellow travelers from home. It always amazes me how you can be so far from home and run into someone you know.

So today we continue our journey in Italy by visiting Florence
Assisi, yes the place where St. Francis is from, is laid out really neat on a hill, so there are lots of streets and walkways and stairs like this However, I wouldn't advise visiting Assisi on a Sunday. It was very cold when we were there and on Sunday's nothing is open, we walked around all day with nowhere to go to get warm except the church. We even had to beg a resturant owner to open his restaurant so we could eat. Now this is a great place to stop if you are traveling through Tuscany but it can easily be done in a half to one day max.

Venice is small but has a lot to see
Every year St. Marc's floods and they put up scaffolding and for visitors to walk on. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, we were one of the last people to get to climb up in it prior to it being shut down to be restored as it was leaning at an unacceptable angle. You think it would be hard climbing up a long stairway that wraps around in a circle that is upright, try climbing one while it is at a sharp angle. You begin to feel like you are in a fun house at the fair!

Moving on to Salzburg Austria

Sound of Music fans will recoginize the above photo of the Von Trapps mansion. Once in a while on vacation you just have to do something a little cheesy like go on a Sound of Music Tour. Actually it was kind of fun. We boarded a big Gray line bus and tooled around. They took is into the mountains where Maria sang "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music" all the while swinging her empty guitar case as she skipped down the hill. (that guitar case seemed a bit light to actually have a guitar in it the way she was throwing it around)

A market in Germany - oh, look a mysterious person in the photo. No it is not me, but I wonder who it could be?

Switzerland as you know is "neutral". However, I find it interesting that while it is "neutral" they have one part that is German and one part that is French.
In German Switzerland the older gents would play these giant size chess sets in the park.

One of my favorite places in Switzerland was a little mountain town called Grindelwald. We had to take two trains up the mountain to get there, the second one being an old fashioned cog train.

I was going to go skiing here, but I would have needed to rent not only equipment but clothes as well. In speaking with a Chalet worker fI found out that when they need snow while we in the states use snow making machines. In Switzerland, they have helicoptors haul snow up to the top of the mountain to drop it.

What would a trip to Europe be without a visit to Paris. We took the TGV train the "Fast" train through the mountains from Geneva to Paris. Loved Geneva, but was only there for dinner and a nights sleep before traveling to Paris. Lake Geneva is beautiful, but sorry no pics.

A beautiful river cruise on the Siene in Paris, (pretend it is sunny!)

While I visited the Musee Dorsey Museaum I was able to get this nice shot of the Louve. If you go to Paris for your cheesy tour you can now go on the Da Vinci Code tour. I took this picture minutes before the Eiffel Tower went dark for the night.
Two more quick stops and we'll be done for tonight.

Brugges Brussels - If you have seen the recent movie In Brugges, you may recognize this shot, taken from the top of the tower. If you haven't seen the movie, skip it, JMHO!
Brugges is a great place to get someone you love some lace, if they have any craft skills to do something with it, that is.

Amsterdam and the canals. If you go here visit the Anne Frank house, that is worth it and no cheesiness at all. Also, watch your step, this city loves its dogs but when I was there they didn't love the act of picking up the poo!