Ever since we left Meeker, connecting with the world had been difficult. My computer is still dead after Sammy tipped the water onto it . No cell service is available at Strang Ranch, so Internet junkies are agitated and in withdrawal.
Meeker is splendid trial to win. The Merino sheep are magnificent athletes, descending from the rarified air of the flattops at ten thousand feet, to take on our sea level dogs. Two of mine made it to the semi-finals, Dorey and Howell. Howell set the pace early in the day with 104 of 110 points, a marked single and uncollared shed. Howell was back to his old self, after a course of Doxy. He marched them in style. Dorey had a difficult single at the pen, swinging around three times before we got them in. The same uncollared single wrecked havoc on the shed by running everywhere out of the ring and never giving us a chance to take the collared single. Only Howell made the final, but that was enough.
Howell drew up just before noon, which in high-desert-speak means heat of the day. From frost at seven to 80 an hour or two later. His first gather was very good. The spotters lost his sheep for the go back and Howell went tight for a couple of redirects. He picked up the second group and fetched smoothly save a few kinks. He drove well. His shed was a twenty pointer. But I lost a few taking risks at the pen. They did not get back together.
A few competitors nearly caught us, but none ever did. Howell’s second Meeker championship. You can never win that honour enough times. It was my turn to buy at the Meeker Hotel.
We got up next morning to work young dogs at Ila’s and ride on to Carbondale for the US National Finals.
On Monday we went about parking in the rough terrain of the carpark, with sage brush stumps, cactus. Leveling up is a big job. The biggest handlers meeting in North America ensues, with all anticipating their best ever finals. Mary Minor and Feist turned in the first run of our gang, She is still sitting eighth after two days of qualifying. Barbara Ray ran well with Stella and Howell will be back for semi-finals on Saturday.
he sheep were very different to Meekers’s Merinos–much more Rambouillait type, but difficult and demanding. Lots of good hands fell by the wayside under their pressure.
We went out to a Carbondale restaurant called Town. It was grand.
A long wait through the night for the Nursery to start. Haley Hunewill, Faansie Basson, and Joni Tietjen are leading the pack. I put Quark on the line at the pen after an OK run around the course. She grabbed one under duress and it was game over. I have Zola, tomorrow morning and Dorey on Friday morning. If I can get to wifi, you will hear from me.