Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Spring is nearly here

I love this time of year the days are cool but not cold the nights are great not to hot, the garden is already starting to look better after all of the frost's we had over winter. I was looking through my photo's and came across some of our station in various stages of drought, flood, green and now brown. This time last year we where WET and it was just the start of a very wet and sad summer of devastating  floods and cyclones, we where very, very lucky while we received record breaking rain falls we didn't have the huge downpours which caused the flooding over large parts of Queensland. With all the moisture we  have a great body of feed for the cattle, however it has hayed off and now grass fires are a huge worry.
This was taken in February 2009 and things only got worse!!!!!

Same paddock 12 months later.
This creek is just down from our house no one had seen it this high.

Now we are back to brown again.

Not a lot of training has taken place the last couple of weeks we have had a steady stream of visitors and tiding up the cattle work has left very little time for training. I have had Sonny around our National course which I am very pleased with, no were near to the standard which I saw at the World Trial in 2008. I did however get the fetch gate both drive gates and had a minor hiccup with shedding, lots more practise there I think. Sonny is still only learning as well and we both have a long way to go but I am enjoying the challenge of something new, we have both seen a major improvement in how our dogs work in the paddock as well after we have been training  to do this course. We where a little unsure if our merino's would suit the course as they can be a little flighty at times, after only a couple of times they have taken to it very well. My next project is to work on Nell, she is well and truly ready for some training.I didn't get any photos of Sonny working sheep but I did take some when we where feeding the bull I don't think he liked them getting so close to his motorbike.

Sonny pushing a bull over to the feed bins

Little Ben may have taken control of his way ward ears finally they have stood up and he is looking rather handsome with pricked ears.Ben has started working sheep and we are both very happy with how he worked I will leave him now for a few months. He found it very tiring posing for the camera.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

More Work and Play

This week has been another busy week for us, more cattle work and the last of the preg testing for Jamie. With preg testing finished for another year, we just sit and wait for the calves to arrive. The dogs have been doing a great job the last week, however we have had an injury. Sonny was walking bringing the cows along and cut his front leg on something and needed 6 staples, this has left me short a mustering dog and boy did I miss him!!!!!! 

I had planned on using Sonny & Bella to help Jamie bring the last mob of cattle in but with Sonny out I thought I might take Nell. Now Nell is still only a baby and her working the cattle was a no pressure job if she worked the cattle I would have happy if she didn't well it just didn't matter. However my Nell has turned out to be a little cow dog, she was so happy to be out there working them. We had to get 500 first calf heifers from the start of the lane way to the cattle yards which is about 12 km's, at the start of the lane way there is  a lot timber and it can be quite hard to cattle through there at times. If you are not in control they will get pass you and go back to where they started, we started the cattle and the dogs were off  and for most of the time the dogs were out of sight helping push the cattle through the timber. After getting through the timber it is easy going to the cattle yards, it normally takes us about 3 hrs depending on how the cattle are walking. The following photos have been taken on my phone while on the motorbike so they may not be as clear.

Lucy is proving to be very good on cattle as well, since Bill has been retired Jamie has been taking Rusty, Frank and Lucy every time he musters. Lucy has just been going from strenght to strenght she is only a little dog but boy can she move cattle. Bella has also been helping she has only ever seen sheep and never worked off a motorbike and at the start was not to sure what she was meant to be doing, so I just let her go and let her think about what we where doing. This worked well and in the end she had a couple of tries of biting a nose but not quite sure if she was aloud to.
We have a few merino ewe's which we have joined to dorper rams, the ewe's have started to lamb in the last week  so I have been going out once a day to check on them just to make sure all is well  as we have a few older ewe's. Last year we got a maremma to run with our training sheep, we got him as a young pup and bonded him ourselves. This whole process has been a great learning curve, to see a animal to bond with sheep on such a natural level is fanatic. Bear is now 15 months old and lives with the sheep all the time, if something upsets him he will bark and all of his sheep will run towards him. He has also taken on a motherly role towards any lamb. A couple of our old ewe's have not been able rear there lambs so Bear will stay with them until I find him and his lamb, he is so kind to the little lambs.

Over the weekend we have had a couple of friends visit with there dogs, its great to catch up with them and see how there dogs are going. They both have pups from our Mirk/MiMi litter so I was very keen to see how they are going and both pups are going very well  it will be great to see them in a few months to see how there training is going. I was only able to get some photos of Roy working.
Our training paddock has been convertered into a ISDS singles trial course with a  fetch gate, drive gates, shedding ring and pen. It has been challenging to get dogs too drive and cross drive who have been taught not to cross you and the sheep.  More news next time on how the dogs are going with this new challenge.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Back to Work

We are back in full swing after being away for 10 days, Jayde our eldest girl was running in the State Cross Country she did well coming 21st out of 52 girls. This was followed by a few days on the Gold Coast which the girls loved.
When we returned home it was straight into preg testing the cow's, Jamie has about 1600 to do which will take a couple of weeks. Testing the cows involves bringing them into the yard placed into the crush where Jamie puts his arm up there bottom to feel for either a calf or other signes they are in calf. Any cows which are not in calf  are culled and pregnant cows are retained, the cow below was in calf she stood there all day and watched us do all the other cows. Brahmans are very inquisitive and will often come up to in the paddock to see what we are doing . The dogs like this time of year as the cows do not have calves on the ground and they are much easier to handle as the cows are very protective of their calves. 

Just before going away I was able to go out mustering this was my 1st time in about two months, it was great to get out in the paddock again. We had to bring in the weaner heifers to be classed and have some needles, Sonny came out too help I think he was very happy about this. Jamie left Sonny and I with about 300 weaners while he went and mustered the rest of the paddock, I had to get all the heifers through a gully which lead back to the dam and of course they wanted to go that way and not down the fence!!! I could either leave Sonny on the tail or put him where he would stop them from going down the gully, I sent him to that point and I kept pushing the tail across the gully in the mean time the lead thought they would go for a little trot down the fence so I sent Sonny to the lead to block them which he did with ease.
We have also found a bit of spare time to work our young dogs, I must say we are happy with all of them. Our two Mirk bitches are going great they are 10 months old now and ready for a bit more training, Nell(my girl) has great coverage and has a lot of power I didn't get any photos of her this time but will do this weekend. Lass(Jamie's girl) is just as good as her sister although she is just a little wider then her sister, we both cant wait until they get a little older. I think the star of the weekend was Sweep who is a son to Michael Gallagers Cap, this dog I feel has it all he has the looks, distance, feel and power you would want in a top work dog, Jamie really enjoys working Sweep. I did get a couple of photos of Sweep working.
The brothers Max and Blade also had there turn, Max is turning out to be a lot like Bill in how he works as well as his personalty. He is very clam pup when working I have seen him take two steps to the side to move a sheep.
Blade is a great pup to have around he is so friendly and willing to please. He works a lot like his brother but I think Max is the pick of the two but only time will tell.

Don is a son of my Sonny and Bella, he is a lot like his Mum in very way. He quite free moving and very pushy like Bella. I took some photos of Don although at the time I didn't realise he had his tongue poking out.
While all this work was going on Old Bill was in the background ready to help the younger pups if the sheep got away on them, he just sits under a tree waiting for Jamie to give the command to go. He is great for this job however he is showing his age and not as fast as he use to be, it is sad to see when his mind is still very active but his old body is failing him. He is still a handsome looking dog.

I love watching the pups grow and they go though different stages, little Ben at the moment cant quite control his ears there not sure where they want to be.