Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Love Letter

Last night my doctor put me on notice.  Get my stress under control now!  He gave me some strategies I could do without using drugs - because he knows I'm pretty much anti-drug unless absolute necessary.  And I concede - perhaps I may have too much on my plate.  One of the strategies was to increase the time you spend doing the things you enjoy.  And today I have been successful for the most part.  You see, today, I have not read a text book, I have not marked a paper, and I have not paid a bill.  I didn't even go grocery shopping!

It appears I had forgotten about my little furry lovelies and was spending too much time doing things I don't love so much, as well as focussing on the negatives of having said furry lovelies (expense).  

Horses, What I Love About You:
  • I love how Izzy follows me around.
  • I love how after 8 weeks of no handling I can put on a halter, and the farrier can completing trim all four feet with no issues with a horse who had been running free 3 months ago.
  • I love how Izzy's color changes with the seasons.
  • I love the horsey smell as Whiskey puts her nose up to my face.
  • I love how I can walk away and return to have my farrier trimming Whiskey's feet with no one holding the rope.
  • I love how agile Roxy is, even in pastern deep mud!
  • I love the plush softness of the horse's coats under their manes.
  • I love watching the two yearlings grow.
  • I love pulling up to the house after work and have the horses and sheep run into the corral to greet me.
  • I love how the horses go to their own buckets for their grain.
  • I love how the sheep walk under Whiskey and she just stands there.
  • I love the feel of a good ride.
  • I love the wind in my hair when galloping through the field.

Dogs, What I Love About You:
  • I love Reba's bright eyes and lop-sided ears.
  • I love Joe's toothy (well, kinda toothy) smile as he looks up at me when I pet him.
  • I love Tessa's howl of joy when I come home.
  • I love how Bella leans up against my legs, then flops at my feet.
  • I love how smart they are.
  • I love Bella's silky softness when I pet her.
  • I love how Joe's hair crimps in the hair - kinda reminds me of how you used to see girls crimp their hair in the eighties.
  • I love Reba's squeaks of happiness when I come home.
  • I love how Bella, giant sized dog, can run in such little circles while doing her mad racing patterns.
  • I love Reba's red mud flaps (hairs along hind legs).
  • I love how Tessa is always up for a game.
  • I love how Tessa groans her pleasure when chewing a toy.
  • I love how Bella tries to play tug but never quite gets the game.
  • I love how Reba, Bella and Joe play with such abandon.
  • I love how they make me laugh.
But most of all....
I love how they love me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dog Days

As the weather has turned less than friendly the dogs are getting a significant reduction in attention.  In part because I haven't had the time to work them, and in part because I am not motivated to sit in my lawn chair and watch them play.  They have figured out how to apply sad eyes and thus creating feelings of guilt in their human.

Both the outside collies Joe and Reba live in dog runs, however they get a fair amount of "free time" in the yard.  This is their time to run about and play as they wish.  During the summer I sit in my lawn chair and watch them while they play.  Now that fall is turning nasty (as in snow and rain) I've taken to kicking them out and returning to the house.  

Reba goes to the door and jumps up on the handle until she shoves the door open.  Pleased with herself, she lets herself in the house for some human companionship.  Of course, this puts Tessa in a major snit as she is the only dog allowed in the house.  And to prevent a world war, outside Reba once more goes.  

Joe has a different tactic.  He goes up on the deck and looks in the deck door, wildly wagging his tail with a hopeful look on his face.  As the wind blusters and blows he remains there watching you.  Can you feel the screws turning in my heart?  There are times when both Reba and Joe sit wagging at the window watching you inside all nice and cozy.  The worst is when you look out the kitchen window to check on them and Joe sees you and comes running up to the door.

Tonight the guilt got to me.  I just couldn't bear it anymore.  Bundled up I went out and played with my dogs.  They were just like children.  "Hey, watch this!  Watch me toss my toy and pounce on it!  Are you watching?"  "Look, look!  I'm chasing Bella!"  Their shenanigans were interspersed with leans up against my legs for some quality pets.  Joe seems to be the neediest.  He really wants to be with you.  

It breaks my heart to know that I'll have to give Joe up but I know there is another home out there somewhere better suited to him than mine.  I can see him as a truck dog.  You know, the dog that travels with it's human everywhere, or running along side the horse helping move huge herds of cattle.  He is the dog that wants a human to love and work for, everyday spending time with them.  But for now he's mine to love and I'm his to shower his affection on.  Even if it makes me feel guilty!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hello, My Name Is...

Hello, my name is Andrea and I have an addiction.  I am no longer able to deny my problem.  I am addicted to Kijiji.  To be specific, Kijiji livestock ads.  I sit in my office chair, foot eagerly tapping the floor as I click and scroll my way through the ads.  Gasps of delight or dismay escape my lips.  Snorts of disbelief cause my dog to look up at me in consternation.  Fingers twitch and hover over the reply buttons.  

And yet I don't buy anything.  I won't buy anything.  Good lord knows I have enough animals as it is.  But I want to.  Badly.  Right now I'm on a big Thoroughbred off the track eventer prospect kick.  Would I know what to do with one if I bought it?  Nope, not in the slightest.  And still I dream, and ponder, and wish.  Kijiji is my weakness - simply because they tend to be cheap and the bargain hunter in me is always on alert for the next great "deal".  However poor it may be.  

My name is Andrea and I'm addicted to Kijiji!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dread Cough

Izzy has the dread cough.  This summer when she was in jail she had developed a cough.  A cough I had attributed to eating hay off the very dry and dusty ground.  Only now it's fall and I've started adding some hay into the horses diet again - not much, just a bit for added nutrition.  And the dread cough has returned.  

She's only a long yearling and I'm left wondering if my little girl has heaves or some other issue.  I'll be doing some research to see if she fits any symptoms and if it gets worse I'll call the vet, even though I'm not entirely sure what a vet could do for that.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


This weekend, a friend of mine got on a plane and flew around the world.  He flew to a place called Afghanistan.  While I don't care much for politics, I do care for my fellow man, and this man has a job that does make a difference.  You see, he's in the army and will put himself at risk to try and make this far, far away country a safer and better place for all people to live.

As a teacher I have a firm belief that education is necessary for people and cultures to improve their quality of life.  Part of this man's job will be to train the members of the Afghan army so they can keep their country safe (allowing education to occur) and my fellow countrymen (and women) can come home.  I also have a firm belief in supporting the members of the armed forces who are doing a job most of us are not willing to do.  Politics has no place in this for me.  Whether you feel it's right or wrong - it is what it is.  

And for me this issue strikes close to home.  So for Jay - God speed, do what you've been trained to do, (I know you'll do it well), and don't forget to see the simple pleasures of life.  Thank you.  We here in Canada are so lucky to live the lives we lead...

For those of you safe at home - what are you thankful for?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Touch Choices

My animals are running me ragged.  I just don't have the time to put into each animal the way I feel I should.  After some serious thought the decision has been made that somethings got to go.  I have three horses and three working dogs, in addition I have a full time job that runs me about 60 hours a week and a university course that takes up about 10 hours a week.  Quite frankly, I don't have time for the animals I have.
Of the animals I have both Tessa (dog) and Whiskey (horse) are permanent residents.  Reba (dog) is my up and coming prospect (if I ever get the time into her) and I really don't want to part with her, even though she'd be easy to sell.  The two yearlings are a tougher choice.  Izzy has a stellar personality and is so willing to try things for you.  Roxy has outstanding conformation, is ridiculously athletic and agile.

Joe, my rescue dog from this spring has made wonderful progress.  He's sane in the yard and no longer crazed on the stock.  The only big concern with him is his trust issues.  He adores me, however he is not keen about 99% of the rest of the human population.  I can see this being sales issue, however he is the stock dog I've slated to sell.  It'll have to be the right fit for him to be successful.  

Of the horses, Roxy is the one who's personality I like the least.  There's nothing wrong with it or her.  I just don't think she's a great fit for me and for this reason she's the one I'll put up for sale.  In January she'll still head to Jason Hanson's to begin cutting training and I'll have him look at finding her a new home.  

My biggest problem is I like my animals.  And I can see the potential performance successes with them all.  However, I also know if they are going to be successful them need the time and energy put into them.  For this, I'm stretched too thin.  

Stupid or Plain Bad Luck?

A couple weeks ago my dad shipped some cows and all the calves to the auction market.  He borrowed the neighbors stock trailer and made two trips.  The first trip delivered the cows to auction about thirty minutes away.  The second trip involved having a vehicle on the highway force him to a stop.  The vehicle could see a leg sticking out from under the stock trailer.  

Upon his arrival home he unloads the poor calf, gives it a shot of Alamycin (long lasting penicillin) and leaves it.  This is a Tuesday.  In exactly seven days he had a trip scheduled for Germany.  Five days pass and he continued kinda sorta doctoring the calf who spent the majority of his time lying down (Really do you blame it?).  At about day five he starts giving me instructions about the calf.  I look at him wild eyed when he tells me "It's not that bad." and tell him that cows are like horses - there's actually stuff inside their hooves.  

Once he leaves, my mom and I make our own plan of action.  We lock the momma cow in with the calf (dad had been letting her in twice a day to feed him) and start feeding her my horse square bales.  The next thing we do is I call my farrier and she calls the vet.  The farrier tells me what should happen if the calf is salvageable (we were prepared to put a bullet in him to end his suffering if need be) and the vet reinforces what the farrier says.  The vet bandages the calf and we move him out of the open corral into a panelled shed.  The goal is to keep the calf dry and clean.  Not so easy when we are getting snow and are not set up properly.

Momma cow is bug eyed and snuffy making her a treat to work around so with the help of my brother's two friends we moved implements and set up a panel runway to the automatic waterer.  This way we don't have to haul water for her, instead let her out twice a day.  

The vet comes tomorrow morning to see how the poor little fellow is doing.  I'm happy to report he's starting to stand a bit more and is starting to eat his grain and some hay.  Needless to say I was a wee bit aggravated with my father leaving me to deal with his problems.  The irony is the stock trailer he borrowed had had the floor boards replaced a few years ago.  

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Go Big or Go Home

As I left the capital region and entered an area that is mostly crown land it became clear to me just how alone alone can be.  I was enroute to High Prarie to help out at the Alberta Stock Dog Association Field Trials Finals.  Having travelled I can assure you Alberta is one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially when it comes to natural beauty.  My lonely drive (I didn't see cars, houses or lights for some very long stretches!) took me through majestic forests, over gigantic hills (when I was in Quebec they called hills like this mountains), and past scenic lakes.  Unfortunately this time the drive in both directions was mostly done in the dark so no pictures to share.  

When I finally arrived in High Prairie, I unloaded my truck, including the dogs and settled in for the night.  Reba is turning into a seasoned traveler who handles strange situations with aplomb.  I was very proud of her.  (Joey had to stay home - he has nervous pee issues and I didn't want to bring him for that reason.)  Tessa was overjoyed at having some action and sang her happiness.  The next morning we drove out of town to the trial location.

The land in this area is so large that you and your dog had better go big or go home.  To give you an idea of the size and distance of the field I've posted a picture of Carl setting sheep (letting them settle at the appointed spot for the competing dog to gather them).  He's close to where I was stationed and my camera was at it's furthest zoom.  The actual dogs will travel 3-5 times further than the distance he's located from me.

The weather was crisp and overcast causing all of us to bundle up in our farm chic clothing.  While chilly for the humans it was excellent for the dogs and sheep, keeping everything fresh.  Here you can see me by the sheep's holding pens trying to stay warm in my many layers.  Way off in the distance, behind the edge of the trees and my shoulder is the main area where handlers set up camp and sent their dogs from.  (Just to give you an idea of just how far these dogs will run to fetch the sheep.)

It was a great field for a trial and the sheep were superb making it one of the best trials I've been involved with yet.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Friday I make the trek up into Northern Alberta to work at the Alberta Stock Dog Association Field Trials.  On Tuesday, my dad moved cattle and shipped his calves.  Tessa, who was fine when I left for work was three legged hopping when I got home.  While dad hasn't said anything I'm wondering if he didn't "borrow" her to help him.  This is causing some stress in my life as I'm supposed to "set" sheep for the trial.  

What this means is I'm supposed to keep the sheep in a nice quiet circle until the handler who is competing has sent their dog and the running dog is close to the sheep, at which point I call of my dog and get out of the way.  Tessa would handle the job just fine.  A lame Tessa can't do this job.  I'll be bringing Reba with me as a back up but am scared as she hasn't done much off the place.  She is a great listener on stock but animals always act differently when they are worked elsewhere.

Another big stess is Whiskey is lame.  On her front this time.  I really do wonder if I'm cursed.  I've also decided I'm going to put Roxy up for sale and have been struggling with how to figure out how much she's worth and if I should wait until she's started training.  I feel like one big mass of nerves right now.

I know I'll go to High Prairie, do my job and be fine.  I know all I can do right now is give Whiskey some time to see if it helps.  And I know I'll eventually figure out what to do with Roxy.