Jan 8th 2013
2013 already, hard to believe, time has flown.
In the last month or so we have had storms, floods, fires and blistering hot days. A land of extremes indeed.
It was the middle of December and we had almost finished shearing , when the storms rolled in. Strong winds, lightening and thunder and in the space of 2 days over 80 mils of unwanted rain. We also had hail and it got very cold, amazing for December.
We lost about 100 newly shorn sheep and it ruined all the summer paddock feed. So now we are feeding sheep a month or two earlier than we should be.
Then at the end of the year more storms rolled in, and lightening started many fires around the district, including one half a km from our house, quite scary for a while.
Amazing how quickly the neighbours arrived with their fire units, within 10 minutes there were 5 units helping to put it out. A fire puts everyone at risk and if it is stopped early then the risk is lessened. Even after it is seemingly out though, it needs constant monitoring as it can easily spark up again with a bit of wind. So instead of celebrating new year, many locals were watching the fires.
Lightning west of our house.
The fire on our farm.
We had to fell this large redgum as it was burning on the top thanks to a lightning strike. It was too high up to be put out, this is where the fire started.
Then it got hot, over 40 for about 10 days, the longest heatwave anyone can remember, not much fun at all.
We are starting to wonder what is next.
Shearing went fairly well despite the loss of some sheep.
It dragged on a fair bit due to the wet conditions and it was a relief to finish only a few days from Christmas.
My dogs all worked well and the young ones Ramulam Ginger and Rocky Balto had to step up a bit due to the loss of two of the oldies, Yarralonga Bella and Andron Jake. Bella landed in a wonderful semi-retirement home where she sleeps inside and doesnt have to work too hard. He new owners are ‘Sea Changers” and knew little about dogs and sheep. Bella needs no commands to do the job so it worked out well for both of them.
Jake went back home to Victoria to his Breeders Joe Spicer and Sharon Barry. Sharon trained him, and Jake was pleased to be home and most certainly recognized Sharon, judging by the reunion photo. He will do light farm work and some stud duties.
Ginger had done no farm work before and only ever worked 100 sheep, so it was a shock to him to have to work mobs of 1000 or so. But he stepped up to the task admirable, working like an old hand within a week. He was calm, and biddable, and quickly worked out what he had to do. I was very pleased with him. He also did a couple of three sheep trials and went ok, but has a bit to learn there. He cast quite well in four runs so that was pleasing.
Balto is still fairly headstrong and I struggle to get him off balance on the trial ground but he is learning. His farm work is improving but he does not have the natural stock sense that Ginger has, so I have to command him a fair bit. He is learning to pace himself though and drives a mob fairly well now.
Just Otto did a bit of yard work and is very keen, backing naturally and showing plenty of force. He is still a bit young to do much farm work though. I let him loose on a mob of 1000 and he headed them well and came off when asked. He has limited commands yet.
Balto and Caleb working in the dust.
Ginger, Caleb and Balto yarding the sheep.
Balto, Caleb and Ginger working in the yard.
Balto and ginger facing down an old ewe.
Jake and Ginger working in the timber.
Jake, stopping the mob from running the wrong way up the paddock while we put them through the gate.
Kumbark Rocket and Nukennellup Dodge are also coming along well, but I have not had a lot of time for them and it has been too hot to train, hopefully soon. Both are quite soft and biddable, like their dad Andron Jake.
Nukennellup Dodge, checking out the bird bath.
Barru Zilla is one of the most intense dogs I have had, she is so focussed on her sheep that getting her to take command is very difficult and she carries a fair bit of tension.
I am giving her a month off work but still letting her see sheep without allowing her to work them in an effort to get her to relax and focus more on me. I also plan to give her some off stock training to ensure she understands the stop command properly. She is also very strong on the head and getting her off balance could be a problem later.
Binnaburra Cheeki is going through a soft stage so I am letting her grow up for a while.
Cheeki enjoying some water play.
On the farm we are drenching our sheep, weaning lambs and generally moving sheep around. Usually we would have had all this done last year but due to the fires, floods and difficulty we have had selling sheep, we are a fair way behind.
It will be good to finish all the sheep work and have a break.
Trialling season is only 6 weeks away, so hopefully I can give my dogs a brush up before then. The first trial of the year is at Ongerup in the lower great southern. It is not an easy trial though, sheep are always difficult there and it is generally very hot, which wont suit Balto, but I will enter him and Ginger, who will probably also find it tricky. The experience will be good for him.
Wagin three sheep trial is two weeks after Ongerup so I am hoping to have another dog ready by then, either Rocket or Otto, but who knows. Wagin is a small ground and usually better suited to young dogs.
So lots of training needed, if the weather ever cools down that is, about 40 at the moment. (4pm 8th Jan 2013)
At least we have no fires in WA at present, right at this time there are dreadful fires buring out of control in 5 states. Fire is the most feared thing in Australia, so deadly and destructive.
I just long for summer to be over, I don't function well in the heat.
Below some cooling water play shots.
Balto looking a bit strange.
Otto, about to disappear under the water.
Both Dolly and Yindi like to dive for rocks in the water, Yindi has beaten Dolly to this one.
Most of my pack together, a rare shot.