Monday, August 03, 2009

Silence of the pigs, Elvis, tractor parades and, uh, yeah I think there was some agility in there somewhere

Can you say distractions?

It was an interesting day of agility, that's for sure. We were sandwiched between the carnival and the 4-H building which of course had its doors wide open because OMG people the smell. I had to go in there to use the bathrooms which unfortunately were next to the pigs and I'm telling you my eyes were starting to water and the next day I still can't get that smell out of my brain. And these pigs were all freshly scrubbed and laying in pens with nice fresh shavings and all gussied up for the show ring. I cannot begin to imagine what it must smell like on the little local farm let alone those big industrial hog farms. Seriously, it was something special. And the screaming... Maybe you've heard a chorus of 100 pigs all squealing/screaming at the same time but that was a new one on me. It was like when a group of dogs start howling in unison but a hundred million times louder and higher pitched. Somehow my dogs didn't seem the least bit bothered even though we were crated maybe 50 yards away. There was also Elvis music and other country favorites coming from the 4-H building because no pig contest would be complete without. BTW, Elvis plus dog agility, it doesn't get much cooler than that.

I had to go in the arena to see the pigs being judged. Don't worry, I cut through the area where the sheep were being penned to avoid the pig smell. The pig contest consisted of a bunch of teenagers whacking their pigs on the sides with sticks to make them trot around the ring. I couldn't figure out what they were being judged on-maybe whoever has the least amount of poop smeared across their butts wins? It certainly wasn't personality because the feistiest pig that had Strummer ears and Strummer attitude got ushered out of the ring right away. I finally worked up the nerve to ask one of the judges. There were lots of judges and this one didn't seem too busy. It turns out pig shows are kind of like dog conformation shows. The judge watches them trot around and decides which one will be the tastiest based on how they move and their structure. Or maybe the judge made that up to mess with me, who knows. But the main judge gave a little speech about why that pig when he made his decision and it seemed to back up what the other judge told me. You see, agility trials are educational.

The big rule to remember about agility trials at the County Fair is that you should carry your camera with you at all times because you never know when the tractor parade may go by.

There were some cool tractors there.

I was developing a case of tractor envy even though I'm not sure what you do with a tractor. Jonny's always talking about moving out of Boulder to some land out east so we could have donkeys and so far I've been firmly against this plan but maybe I'd reconsider if I could have a tractor. And maybe some horses.

Another thing to remember when you go to the County Fair is that you should wear your awesome pink pirate skull socks that your equally awesome husband got for you.

And make sure you let everyone know where they are in case there was any doubt.

How did the agility go you ask what with the 'Ring of Fire' roller coaster and the people screaming on the 'Ring of Fire' roller coaster right next to the start line for the baby dog classes? So loud that you can't even hear the 'Go' announcement on the speaker?

Are we barfing yet?

As it turns out this was a great set-up for Strummer because he wasn't too bothered with the coaster and the screaming and it was so loud that he couldn't hear the dog in the ring. Crazy freak dog, he was much calmer than normal. Can we please have big noisy roller coasters at all our agility trials? Sure my ears were ringing well into the night but calm dog at the start line, so worth it.

He ran in the only 3 classes offered-Gamblers, Standard and Jumpers-as did Lola and he didn't pick up any Q's but he was running nicely and most of our problems were run-bys/handling issues and baby dog stuff. He had great weaves, hit all 3 A-frames, great teeters, no knocked bars that I can remember (though I could be wrong about that), missed his dogwalk contact and had some trouble on straight runs of jumps. Don't know why but that seems to be such a hard skill for him. We've practiced it but not recently and he's so freakin' fast on a straight line of jumps mid-course or in a gamble that it's hard for me to keep up to handle him. He had an off course in Jumpers due to this and despite taking an extra tunnel and me settling him to continue on he still did 15 obtacles in 14.xx seconds. Whee, that was fun!

Lola was more distracted by the ample amount of poop in the arena dirt than the roaring coasters and screaming pigs. She started out with a nice strong run in Gamblers. Didn't get the gamble of course, the easiest gamble you could possibly imagine-out to a jump from a tunnel, teeter, jump, jump all in a straight line-easy peasy, but her opening was wonderful. She started getting a little flaky in Standard probably due to the heat but she laid down on the table despite the blaring sun (woo hoo for that!) and had an o.k. run with a missed A-frame contact and run-by/refusal. By the afternoon Jumpers class she'd had enough. It didn't help that I got lost by the 7th jump, the kind of lost where you're standing there like an idiot going, 'I'm lost, I'm lost'. As I stood there pondering the sea of jumps I lost her to the poop. I got her going again for a wee bit but it was hot and she'd had enough so I decided screw the course and ran her out of the ring over the last few jumps. This was super fun because it happened in front of a huge audience of people and there was an announcer giving the crowd a play by play over the loudspeaker. She tried to put a good spin on it for the crowd and had them cheering us on out of the ring but not exactly a crowd pleasing performance I'm afraid.

Overall it was a fun trial, small entry, nice courses, and one ring. What a luxury to not have to work classes that I'm also entered in as well as not having to run from ring to ring like a crazy person. It was a great opportunity for Strummer to get some ring experience with some huge distractions and who doesn't love a good pig contest?


  1. Drives all the dogs whacko when there's poop on the field, at least early on. Did the announcer say, "whoops, lost her to the poop"? That would've been good.

    Funny, *I* went to the county fair yesterday and went to the pig auction and had the same questions and saw the same stick whacking. I took 350 photos and I've been wrestling my way through them to find a few to post. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow.

  2. I didn't get any pig photos because I wasn't sure if flash photography was allowed inside the 4-H building and I didn't want to ruin the kids' contest. Plus I know nothing about pigs and I wasn't sure if the flash would set them to screaming again or maybe start a pig riot.

  3. I had my [borrowed] SLR with me, and all the "buildings" here were open-sided tents, so in theory I could take decent photos without the flash. Except I forgot until halfway through that I could set the ISO and so everything earlier on was a bit blurry. (Even after 3 years, I still think of ISO setting as being part of the FILM, not the CAMERA!)

  4. Your county fair looks like a lot more fun than ours. I did a trial like that once, at the Cal State Expo - we were indoors in a ring squashed between the door on one side, cows on one side, sheep on another, and pigs on the 4th side. Amazingly the livestock was not the problem, the hard surface with gravel that acted like ball bearings made it so unsafe I bailed after our first run. But what a freak show it was anyway with all the state livestock exhibitors running around in the same place. Did you know they shave the cows to "show" them?

  5. And congratulations on your nice runs with the dogs! Glad the distractions weren't really distractions for the baby dog!

  6. You've brought back a childhood memory that I was happy to forget. When I was 13, we moved to a new house in a nice neighborhood. Not like today's subdivisions, but just some decent houses on about 1/2 acre. A few months later, when summer came, we would sometimes catch whiff of the worst smell ever. Wouldn't happen often, but when the temp was hot and the wind was right... whew. Turns out we were about a mile from a pig farm that would send it's smell in our direction on rare occasions.
    But go figure, then I went and worked at a chicken farm when I was 15, but I digress...
    Sounds like a pretty good time with plenty to see and do while waiting for the next agility run. Could it get any worse than forgetting the course while the crowd is given a play-by-play? I suppose it could, but that is a good one. Skye wouldn't have been too keen on the heat, and I am not sure how Rip would have liked the Ring of Fire, but glad Strumm played into its hand and wasnt much phased by it all!

  7. Ugh, I would NOT like to live near a pig farm. Chickens are bad but I can't imagine they're as bad as pigs.

    Thankfully the footing in the arena was good, except for the poop of course but I'll take that over ball bearing like gravel any day.

  8. At the place where this year's AAC Ontario Regionals were held, all six rings (plus everywhere outside the rings) were completely covered in poop - goose poop. As in, you couldn't take a single step without stepping in it. Amazingly, hardly any of the dogs showed any interest in it. Pig or cow poop though? Hmm...

  9. Sounds like a good day though. Are you going to Laramie?? If so see you there.

  10. Yes, I'll be in Laramie for Friday night and Saturday. We'll see you there.

    There are places where I take the dogs that are covered in goose poop and they love the stuff. It's a battle to keep them away from it but too much of it can be toxic.

  11. Reminds me of a RAGBRAI quote:

    "Son, it is going to smell like this ALL THE WAY across Iowa."

  12. And this is why I go through Iowa in a car at 75 mph with the windows rolled up and not on a bike. ;)

  13. But I went to college in Champaign-Urbana, IL and spent many hours running through the cornfields so I know that smell but trust me that pig smell was something over and above.