Photo-taking was un-possible while we worked today, so my windy descriptions will have to do.
My first day's work was one of some ups and downs. Typically I work Bran last, as she is the most challenging. I alternate between working Dare and Seamus first. Today I worked Dare first, as she is the most reliable, and I thought this would be the best way for letting Mike see my handling strengths and weaknesses more than if we were working one of the other dogs. The bunch of sheep Mike had for us to work were speckle-faced wool crosses--I forgot to ask what breeds--and were last years' lambs.
We first worked a little bit in a smallish area just so he could where Dare & I were at, and so he'd feel comfortable bringing us out into his 18 acre field. That field has really heavy pressure back to the barn, which is nothing unusual, but there's also a small section of the fencline that is in between repairs, and the sheep know they can get through this section back to the barn area, and they do try to get there!
Sent Dare on her first outrun to the left; she cut in and made a mess, right on down to chasing a single. I was prepared for common issues like turning in too soon or too late or racing them down the fetch, but the busting up and chasing took me by surprise. She will chase a single if one breaks off, but I wasn't expecting it in this situation. We worked some more on basic stuff like outruns and driving; she had a good drive going later on, but I un-cleverly started the drive in the general direction of the pressure, so she needed to stay hard on the right and be in just the right place to hold the line without being too far forward and turning them. Almost made it, but as they went further down the field, it just became too much for the sheep and the dog, ending in another chase. In all, I think Dare chased four times during our work, not exactly making me proud. Mike said her flanks were good when she was balancing to me, but the inside flanks while driving were not as good; no surprise here, as it's something I know needs work. He talked about one of the ways he assists his younger dogs with driving, so I'll have to try that at home and see whether that improves things for us.
Next, I worked Seamus. I brought him out with a long line, as I just wasn't confident in knowing where his mind was and I didn't want to have a wreck. From his attitude out of the car, it seemed he might go either way. (He worked very nicely for me last week; his good attitude showed coming out of the car.) After discussing Seamus's up and down performance so far, I elected to take the long line off and work him in the small area. He went out the little distance quite nicely for me, and was a little fast, but had a good attitude. Within just a few minutes, Mike gave him some very nice compliments, and had us move to the big field.
In the big field, we did some good work, and had a few chases. He was a bit overmatched at one point by the place we had the sheep set and what I asked him to do, so the wiley buggers got through the hole in the fence and he got after a single, but Mike wasn't upset. He got it sorted out and everyone back where they should be, and we went back out in the big field, where we worked a bit more, and Seamus did nicely for me. Mike really liked what he saw in Seamus.
Mike made a very good observation before I even started working with Seamus; he asked whether I was afraid of the dog. And in thinking that over (knowing he meant was I afraid of things that might happen while working him, and whether I'd screw him up, not whether I was fearful of the dog himself), I realized that yes, in a way I am afraid. I am afraid for the safety of the sheep. I might have a different outlook if they were my own sheep, but what I am afraid of, more than gripping, is one of my dogs running a sheep into a fence. There's no lie down or recall when they are in hot pursuit. At any rate, Mike reasurred me before working Seamus, while we worked, and again afterwards, to not be afraid of (working) him. He reassured me that his take on Seamus was that this is young dog stuff that would fade away with maturity, and not to get too upset about it. Of course I know that in a corner of my brain, but it'll be rough for me to remember when we're working our way through that!
Bran got a turn too, but by the time I got her out, we'd been working quite a while and he had a commitment that morning, so I didn't work her too much, just a bit to get her on the sheep, really. She didn't do anything spectactularly good or bad. The thing that impressed me most was that she lifted the sheep off the fence nicely, in both directions, without crossing in front of them or trying to go through them. So that was the highlight for me in working Bran.
The takeaway: Don't be afraid of my dog.
The route: Indiana to Missouri
Time: About 7 - 7.5 hours
This was a lovely drive for me, though most people would find driving through farmland for seven hours quite boring. No particular events of note, other than much road construction (especially through Illinois--it was like being back in Pennsylvania, the Road Construction State).
Far from home: Not many travelers on my route today; most distant plate noticed was Texas.
Not in New Jersey:
For some reason, I found these windmills fascinating. I took a few phone pics in Ohio yesterday, but forgot to upload them. There were some near Mike's place, so I jumped out and used my REAL CAMERA to take this photo. It is hard to describe how large they are; check out the mature trees below, and the power lines (which are much closer to me than the windmills).
A random shot of comforting farmland in western Illinois. And my bug-guts-encrusted windshield. Are there more bugs in the midwest than in New Jersey?
Highlight of my drive?
The mighty Mississippi. Stunning photo, ain't it? ;)
Welcome to Missouri. Radio station call letters will now start with K, just because. Thank you.
Also not in New Jersey: Sonic. I don't even know how to order Sonic right. Heh. Stupid Jersey girl. Well, at least I didn't drive away from the gas station with my gas cap dangling today. (Hey, I had a lot of driving to do, I was in a hurry! Besides, we don't HAVE self-serve gass in New Jersey! Yep, full-serve all the time...and we pay less for it, too! :) Thanks to the good Samaritin who signalled me as we pulled out of the station.)
The hotel: No sign out front. Or on the building. At least, not that I saw.
The neighbor: Arriving back at the hotel after running out for dinner, I sloshed soda all down my hand and arm getting out of the car. So I trudge up the stairs with a newly-arrived male guest, thinking how un-thrilled I am that I'm the first room on the right, and he now gets to know where I'm staying. He moves on, and I soon re-evaluate my worry level over that teeny-tiny fact. My across-the-hall neighbor pops open his door as I'm trying to find my key card (buried in my purse) while holding my dinner with my dripping wet hand which still has the soda all over it. The hallway neighbor is a young guy who has his head nearly shaved, and has no shirt on. "Hi," he says. "Hi," I say back, trying to find my stupid key card as fast as possible, one handed. "How are you doing?" he asks. Did this just happen? Did some random hotel stranger just pop his door open to start up a conversation with me. "Great," I say, in a less-than-great tone. After all, I just spilled soda on myself, I can't find my key, and two random males know where my room is. "Are you being sarcastic?" he asks. Thank god, I found the key! "Have a good night," I say, or something like it, and get inside. Of course me being me (paranoid), I'm wondering if this is some crazy meth addict or something. Really--who opens their room door to have a chat? This isn't some hotel bar or something. Were the dogs barking when he went into his room and his pissed about that? Was he spying out the peephole when he heard me come up the stairs? Ugh. Well, I guess the good thing about the dogs is that I expect they will bark if someone comes in the room tonight!
Next: Working with Nyle Sealine.