Archive for the ‘Raising Chickens’ Category

Columbus Weekend

April 12, 2013

I’ve gone up amongst the Yankees for a weekend of play in the USDAA. Pulled into Columbus in the afternoon rush hour and found my way to the La Quinta while commuters swarmed about like angry hornets.

I suppose there are several good stories I’ve failed to tell as I’ve neglected my BLOG. I killed the rooster, and put the raft into my pond; and Marsha and I joined a community theatre group. No we’re not going to act. We’re going to be active. So far about our only dealings with the group was to spend a day helping a handful of others clean up a back-stage area that apparently hasn’t been cleaned up since the 1930’s.

We’ve got yet another rescue BC pup. Her name is Prem. And as you might guess she’s smart enough, being a Border Collie and all. Within the first week I had her I taught her to send away from me over a jump at a distance of about 30 feet. And I’ve taught her to turn “Right”. On the downside, she showed early a remarkable fear of the training teeter. So for several days now I’ve taken a page out of the two-minute dog trainer and have given her meals in the proximity of said training teeter. In the first lesson all she had to do was put a foot on the ramp to get a handful of food. Now, after three days, the criterion has escalated to putting both feet on the up end and driving it to the ground. She’s still not a huge fan of the teeter; but her association is gradually changing to something positive, given that it earns her meals.

For the past couple of weeks Marsha has been building me “snarky” courses go help me get back in a handler’s groove, mostly in preparation for the weekend now at hand. She’s put up some real ugly stuff, almost bad enough to make a USDAA Masters handler cry and shout. I wasn’t allowed to preview or practice any little part of these courses. I’d walk them as I would at a trial… and then run them. And in running we observed a no melt-down rule. If something went wobbly I had to pick myself up and go on, just like real life. And Kory had to jump 26.

I’ve been for several months rebuilding Kory’s contact performance. I think I like where we are at. But this weekend will be the acid test. My goal is to keep it all meat and potatoes… do my job, work hard, and always be aware that Kory needs basic training reinforcement, when in the ring.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

League Game


The league game this week was designed by Brenda Gilday. I’m really impressed with the quality of her design work. The challenge and flow she set on this course is spot on.

They ran this course at Kuliga in league this past week; and we ran it here at Country Dream. The best performance in our league was put in by Beth Murray with her girl Koda. They looked really good.

I’ll be posting it (this evening I hope) as a Top Dog challenge course. Maybe we can entice Katie and Dave to come out to play!


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

10 Dozen Eggs a Month

September 10, 2012

Four eggs a day. At first you think… well, that’s breakfast! However, if you put just a bit of math to it, this works out to 10 dozen eggs a month. That is a lot of eggs.

I expect that in the winter production will be considerably down. So we’ve frozen several dozen. I can’t testify to what frozen eggs taste like. Maybe they’ll be good for egg salad. Maybe they’ll be better suited for baking recipes that call for eggs or for pancakes or something like that.

You have to be a pretty committed egg eater to down ten dozen a month.

More Fun at QCDTC

Friday I get a one-day working seminar with my friends at Queen City Dog Training Club. We have a great arrangement as I exchange the seminar fee for my entry and travel expenses. It’s an excellent arrangement.

I have several ongoing students in Cincinnati whose progress I’ve had the pleasure to watch over time. So I’m really looking forward to this.

To tell you the truth, they want more than a warm-up. I’ve been thinking through some interesting exercises to do with them. I want them both to have a good work-out, and to come away with some good skills. I’ve frankly got my sights set on course analysis and problem solving. If we have to break it down to fundamental skills training… well, we can do that too.

Here’s what I’d like to put up early:

This sequence is a bit of a serpentine and not the really cruel kind of trick ‘n trap we see in competition these days.  However, it certainly has handling riddles worth examining. I don’t want to give it all up here right now… because I know a couple of them read my blog. I’d rather surprise them.

Oh, by the way, same set of equipment but different numbers. This is certainly more evil that the initial presentation.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

A Rooster in the Oven

June 9, 2012

So now we have nine chickens. Three of them are roosters. That means they eat every day, but don’t contribute anything back to the household. Marsha has a favorite, a little undersized boy she calls “Chicken Little” because he’s constantly carrying on about how the sky is falling and whatever other peril fills the moment.

Our chickens are all technically “free range”. When I get up in the morning I let them out of their coop. And they wander around the property eating bugs and making poop. In the evenings I put them back in the coop and lock it up. It’s a young flock. They will begin laying in about August. I’m looking forward to that. Have you ever had fresh yard eggs? You can’t buy them in the grocery store.

When I see Chicken Little I think “Rock Cornish Hen”. Okay, the grocery store gets away with selling young undersized chicks and calling them “Cornish”. It’s no real sin if I do too. A little time in the oven, served with roasted potatoes and asparagus. Such a vision!

Of my two big Jersey Giant roosters… one will get to stay with the flock. The other will be a real meal, for adults, with left-overs. Have you ever had a roasted free range chicken? You can’t buy them in a grocery store.

The Letter D

Courtesy of Nancy Gyes and Alphabet Drills (available at I’ve come up with the following exercises based on the letter “d”. I have a student here for the weekend for a series of private lessons. She’s interested in the Front Cross as an ailing element of her repertoire. It’s easy to find Front Crosses in the letter “d”.

I’ve decided that following along with Nancy’s scripted exercises is making me crazy. So, once again, I’m playing a game of What do you make of this?… and find my own sequences and handling remedies.

This is a simple exercise intended to solve the “riddle of sides”. I have one stipulation in handling… the handler must predispose himself to the side of every turn. This means that all of the changes of sides will be forward of the dog (Front Crosses).

Without belaboring this sequence with analysis… what I see here as handling would be: a Blind Cross from #1 to #2; a Front Cross from #2 to #3; another Blind Cross from #4 to #5; and another Front Cross from #5 to #6. The most technical of these movements is probably the Front Cross in the transition from #5 to #6. This calls for a squaring Front Cross. If the handler commits to a Cross on the landing side of jump #6 prematurely… the dog’s approach to jump #7 will surely be spoiled. The handler must understand where to set the corner of approach that creates a straight line through jumps #6 and #7… and allow the dog to get to that corner before committing to the Cross.

In this exercise the handler will put his Front Cross on the landing side of jump #6. Although this is a simple Front Cross it’s a marvelous opportunity to practice the mechanics of this common movement. I use a “pulling hand” in my Front Crosses so that my movement is always going in the direction of the course (what a concept, that). If you want a more thoughtful discussion of the pulling hand by an intrepid international competitor, you should Google “Jenny Damm”.

On the dismount of the dogwalk the handler will have another opportunity to Cross. This calls for what I call a technical Front Cross because it happens on the dismount of a technical obstacle. Note that the mechanics of this movement will be somewhat different for a dog engaged in a 2o2o bottom performance as compared to a dog with running contacts.

Because the dog’s path is an acute angle there’s a real possibility here of causing the dog to take a wrong course back up and over the dogwalk if the handler’s movement puts too much pressure back into the dog on his dismount.

This sequence requires a single change of sides, but it could be quite technical. You’ll note that the turn from jump #4 to #5 sets a line that goes nowhere near to the entry to the weave poles. So this will call for the handler to be the “architect of the dog’s path.” This is a job for a serpentine Front Cross. This is actually a combination movement, beginning with a Front Cross and resolving into a Post Turn. On the landing side of jump #5 the handler will commit to the cross, and then draw the dog around his “post” position to sweeten the approach to the weave poles.

Movie Mind Tweaks

I had a couple interesting moments with my DVD movie collection last week. I was watching Cinderella Man … it occurred to me that the fighter Jimmy Braddock had to fight to earn the championship title must have had a son who starred in a popular sitcom in the 1960’s. Can you name the actor and the character he played?

In the movie Terminal, starring Tom Hanks, Viktor Navorski visited an immigration officer every day as a go between for a secret admirer. One of the common interests of the officer and her admirer is that they were both “Trekkies”. She even made the familiar Vulcan hand sign at one point in the movie. So … what was her later connection to Star Trek in the movies?


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Chicken Coop

March 17, 2012

I’ve been working on a chicken coop for the better part of a week. I’ve enlisted the assistance of my brother-in-law John who has pretty much taken over from a project management point of view. If I had built it myself I would have built it in a couple days and it probably would have resembled the shack the Beverly Hillbillies lived in, before they actually struck oil. John is more of a Beverly Hills kinda guy.

I’ve bought 8 chicks. Four of them are sexed pullets, probably a northern Leghorn breed. The other four are Jersey Giants (sometimes called Black Giants); and I have no idea of their sex yet. The Giants are a calm breed who lay brown eggs and will lay in cold weather.

Okay, having chicks means I really had to get going on the chicken coop project. I’ve seen some dismal digs for chickens; and I had pretty much resolved that I’d provide a roomy coop with ample brood boxes and roosts.

I’m getting a bit of an education on basic building skills from John. Whether you’re building a chicken coop or a tool shed or, presumably, a house you have to make every effort to keep everything thing square and level from the floor/foundation into the walls and ultimately the roof.

Since the coop will be an attractive thing I’ve put it on the northeast part of my property (where it can be viewed from the road). I could have hid it on the other side of the tractor barn (the metal green building you see in the pic) had it been of my construction.

I had wanted to build the thing with recycled lumber. But it was proving too much work to trim out old oak board (like the 2×4’s you see on the roof). So I have a couple/three hundred in board and OSB paneling.

The side of the building facing you in this picture is where we’ll put the man door. It’ll just be a cutout from the OSB. Between the coop and the tractor shed I’ll put a chicken wire enclosure for the birds when they’re not out pillaging the neighborhood. I’m hoping that the structure will be very predator resistant. I’m worried more about feral dogs than anything else. In this part of the country people still dump dogs in the wilderness as though they are doing the animals some kind of Christian favor.

I’ll keep you up to date.

Meanwhile Back in the Training Center

The chicken coop thing has been tough on the body. After a days work I have to go back in and do another 8 hour work day. Mostly this has been dedicated to doing TDAA stuff, reviewing courses and so forth. The blog has fallen low on my priority scale.

Class on Wednesday night was selfishly devoted to a variety of skills I’ve wanted to work on with my own dogs. I wanted a good workout on the weave poles; I wanted to proof my discrimination skills (I do a “named obstacle” / no handling protocol); I also wanted to work with turning options.  This is the set of the floor I came up with. It’s very simple and has an interesting variety of sequencing possibilities.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The Country Dream web store is up and running. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.