Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dog Days and Birds of a Feather

Several weeks ago Rue and I competed in the Texas Herding Association trial, and were thrilled to receive two qualifying runs.  The first weekend in April, I was optimistic, and hoped for similar results at the Texas Hill Country Stock Dog Association Highland Games Trial outside San Antonio.  This trial is special because, I am told, it is the only actual stock dog trial affiliated with one of the several highland games celebrated in Texas.  Also, it is an arena trial, run on sand in an enclosed rodeo arena instead of in an open field.  That makes the sheep jittery, and is a challenge to dogs and handlers as well.

Rue and I stayed with John's and my good friend, Keyes Hudson, and enjoyed catching up on each other's recent adventures.  In his case, they are many.  Last year he walked the Inca Trail with his son, and has another extensive trek in the planning stages.  I can't wait to hear more and see his photos when he returns.  

Alas, there were no qualifying runs were in the cards this trial for Rue and me.  I will spare you the details, but will say that I had a great time visiting with friends and watching some outstanding handlers working their dogs.  

Here are some photos of the sheep-herding action.

And here are some of the awesome dogs that participated.

Afterward, we headed back to the farm for more cedar-slaying.  John posed for me beside one of the large, multi-trunked specimens he had just cut.  He is getting to be quite a pro handling the skid steer.  It takes real skill to cut through all the trunks one at a time and fell the tree in one piece.  

The farm is beautiful in its new spring finery.  After all the rain, the creeks are running; the stock tanks are full.

The trees have fresh new leaves; Mrs. Redtailed Hawk is on her nest

and the bluebonnets are in bloom.

I even talked the dogs into posing for their annual “Bagley Pack in the Bluebonnets” photo.  

And just as I was trying to capture the quintessential dogs-in-the-bluebonnets image, I heard the unmistakable song of the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.  I followed the sound of his song, and far away in the top of a big live oak tree, I saw a flash of bright yellow.  

I took several shots, but did not know until I downloaded the images if I had captured him or not.  Can you find him in the photo below?

Look hard, and enlarge the image.  There, in the middle of the photo perhaps you can see him, singing his heart out.  I hope to get closer the next time we are at the farm, in the meantime, these photos will serve as proof that he calls Goat Hill Farm his home.

Happy Spring, Everyone!

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