This blog is in memory of our beloved Border Collie Tippy who died on July 28th 2010. Every Sunday over the course of the next few months I will post memories and pictures of her life with us, both as a working farm dog, family pet, best friend and work mate.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Past.

Merry Christmas everyone.

This week I'm going to show you some pictures of Tippy from Christmas past. Like many other dogs Tippy had a natural ability to open presents. Somehow it seems they know how to do this without being taught - who knows maybe in a past life they were all humans. Well anyway right from the first Christmas the first job for Tippy on Christmas morning was to get on the bed with Vicki Fallon and myself and help Fallon to empty the gifts from her stocking. Like humans she used to play the guessing game but with the aid of her pointy nose there wasn't a lot of guessing involved when it came to picking out the chocolate and Fallon was very kind and let her open at least one of her presents. When the time came to open the presents under the Christmas tree Tippy too had her fair share and again took as much pleasure in opening them as she did playing with them afterwards. From the pictures below you will see what a fun time she had over the years.

These first pictures are from when we were at the farm

These next ones are since we moved here.

It wasn't the same without you.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Have A Happy Christmas Tippy.

Every year on Christmas Eve we have a buffet tea party and as with everything we do the dogs are included as much as possible. Here you can see Tippy is well prepared and knows exactly who to suck up to when requiring a sausage roll or mince pie. The only thing I ever remember her stealing was a tray of mince pies. It was the first Christmas that she was with us and Vicki had made some mince pies and left them on the kitchen worktop waiting to go in the oven. Some time later we found Tippy being violently sick and it wasn’t long before we found out why because when Vicki went to put the pies in the oven most of them were missing! However mince pies did remain one of her favourites although she stuck to cooked ones and only when they were given to her.

Look what I found!

I love you grandad.

I will miss you this year Tippy.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

It's A Dirty Job.

At this time of the year there was always plenty of mud around the farm so it was pretty much impossible for Tippy to not end the day wet and muddy. She didn’t mind of course and wondered what all the fuss was about when everyone kept on telling her to stay in her basket. Apart from her basket she somehow managed to acquire an armchair in every room of the house plus the bed in the spare room. The challenge was to make sure she stayed in either her basket or the armchair in the kitchen until she had dried off enough to progress to one of her other chairs and hopefully by bed time she was in some kind of fit state to sleep in the spare bedroom. Of course all the farmers amongst you will be laughing your socks off now as you wonder what was wrong with the dog kennel outside?

Dirty tum - look I'm not getting any mud on the chair!

Clean tum.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Loving Embrace.

I think this picture says quite a lot, I guess there aren't many of you out there who get to give your work mate a loving embrace during work hours - or even out of work hours for that matter. This picture was taken by another work mate called Clint.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Young Ones.

This week I think I will post another picture of Tippy the hiking dog. I don’t know the details of this picture other than it was taken a very long time ago as we all look much younger. Tippy looks to be hardly more than a puppy.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Part Time Mum.

Every now and then Tippy had to take maternity leave, although she was never 100% committed to raising a family due to the fact that those pesky sheep always needed to be kept in order or at least be under constant supervision of a Border Collies eye. So Tippy was only ever at best a part time mum so it was just as well that all her puppies were just various toys which she gathered around her in the nest she would make once a while by the side of the bed. From the look of this picture her nest on this occasion was made of my fleece, a small backpack and something which I think is a pair of trousers and it looks like she had maybe five or six puppies.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Hiking Tippy.

This picture of Tippy with my mum was taken during one of Tippy’s very first hiking trips in to the hills.

She must have been pretty young at this time because she had a proper black lead from quite early on in her life. Tippy used to love going for a good long hike and handled it very easily, much better than Tommy who will walk long distances but seems to suffer for it afterwards, also he is a dead loss when it comes to stiles whereas Tippy would jump over them or at least allow you to lift her over. This picture was taken at Slippery Stones at the end of the Howden Reservoir.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The One And Only Driving Lesson.

In 2002 the boss decided to build us a big new shed which we didn't really use for cattle until the winter of 2003. It was a very nice shed and Tippy used to have lots of fun running from one end to the other keeping her eye on proceedings. Being a proper sheep dog she would have nothing to do with cattle so her running from one end to the other was done around the outside of the building and lying in the mud and peering through the gap under the door. As you will see from the picture the shed was in three parts, two rows of pens with a feeding passage down the centre, wild horses wouldn't have made her walk down that centre passage, I think to her it was the parting of the waves.

The new shed.

Each row of pens was divided in to ten and each pen held ten cows with their calves. The front of the pen was where the cows stuck their head out to eat the feed and it worked okay as far as they were concerned but with the calves it was another matter because they were small enough to get through the bars and out in to the feed passage so very often the first job in the morning was to put the calves back where they belonged which wasn't always very easy as they aren't known for their co-operation in such matters. So after putting Tippy on the JCB loader tractor and starting it up ready for putting out more feed I set about returning the calves back to where they belonged.

JCB Loader tractor like we had at the farm.

As always Tippy was taking a great interest in proceedings and much as a shepherd whistles or shouts commands to his dog she was doing likewise to me from the safety of the loader. I eventually managed to get the calf back where it belonged and gathering my breath I turned to see the loader slowly reversing down the shed and Tippy looking through the windscreen. It looked very much like a disaster movie where the airsick accountant is left to land a 747. In all the excitement Tippy must have caught the reverse lever and was now reversing down the shed with a look of bewilderment in her little face. I set off after her and the loader knowing full well I was not going to reach it in time to avoid disaster. Thankfully the drive was automatic and not clutch driven, so because the engine was still on tick over when the loader came in to contact with the shed door it did no more than put a slight dent in it before being stopped in its tracks and this gave me time to enter the cab and get the situation under control. It didn't put Tippy off riding the loader but she never drove it again, not that I gave her chance because I always made sure I locked the reverse lever in neutral whenever I left it in future.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Patient Tippy.

Tippy waiting on the quad bike at feeding time.

I think Tippy would have stayed somewhere all day if I told her to, especially if she was on the bike. I remember one time in particular when we were checking the sheep and cattle on a day where you could hardly see the hand in front of your face for the fog. She wasn’t aloud in the field with the cows and calves for both our sakes so I said for her to stay by the gate to the Pumphouse Field while I went round the field looking at the stock. During the inspection I came up on a cow that was calving so I hung around to make sure everything went ok. By the time I’d finished seeing to the cow and making sure the calf was okay and returned to the gate where I’d left Tippy it must have been getting on for two hours since I left her. Normally I would not doubt that she would still be there but I never tested her that long before and on a day when she could hardly see past the end of her pointy nose let alone see where I was but she showed her faith in me that I would return for her because she was still there waiting for me after all that time.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Even a professional sheep dog likes a holiday.

Tippy enjoying ball games on the beach.

I don’t remember how many holidays we took without Tippy, it wasn’t many as it turned out because on returning one time we noticed a difference in her like she was ill. She always stayed with my parents so we knew no great harm had befallen her, I’m sure she was spoilt rotten in fact.

On the Monday afternoon I took her with me to re-build a field wall and I knew for sure there was something wrong with her then because usually all the time I was building a wall or fencing she would be dragging lumps of wood around for me to keep throwing her but on this occasion she spent all day laying around in the grass so when we got home Vicki took her to the vets sure she was suffering some terrible illness so it was both a relief and amusing that on returning Vicki said that the vet had diagnosed that she was sulking because we went away on holiday and left her behind! She didn’t know we had been on holiday, having never been away on holiday she had no idea what one was but the fact that we had left her was enough to cause this mood in her.

Even a professional sheep dog likes a holiday you know!

Eventually she came out of her sulk and from that time on we always took her with us, if we couldn’t take the dog we didn’t go.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Dreaded Bottom Gate.

As Tippy got older she was allowed out of the garden more and one of the first walks we used to do was go and close the yard gate on an evening. We would then walk across the top of the yard and then down the field behind the farmyard and up through what we called the bottom gate and so back to the house. However from the very beginning when I would walk her round on a lead she had a thing about the bottom gate, she would not walk though it so I always had to carry her through the gateway back to the house.

Anyway one night I gave her a trial walk without the lead once in the field and everything went fine until we got to the dreaded gate when on seeing it she turned tail and ran for home, the only trouble being was that she ran the long way round, the way we had just come. I being worried as to where she was going set off after her in hot pursuit. Had I known what I was later to learn I would have been much better off going through the bottom gate where I would have met her coming the other way but as it was I didn’t know if she would find her way back home.

I lost track of her before I got to the top of the field because even at that early age she was way faster than me. So with darkness fast approaching there now followed another prolonged game of hide and seek with the dog, only this time she wasn’t confined to the garden, she had the whole run of the farmyard and all the wonderful hiding places it had to offer a Border Collie that could squeeze in to the smallest of hiding places. It used to take me at least ten minutes of coaxing, prodding and cursing to get her out of a bush that I knew she was in so I was pretty stressed about the prospect of finding her out in the open yard, especially as I had no clue as to where to start looking. Anyway after goodness knows how long she gave her self away in the old garage by the back garden gate. I think she had probably run down there intending to go back in to the garden through the gate by which we left the garden but couldn’t get through because it was closed so did the next best thing and hid in the garage which was full of all sorts of farm rubbish.
In the picture above I’ve marked the intended walking route in green and Tippy’s return route in red.

This is the garden where Tippy spent her first few months, note the clipped conifer bushes which she used to like to hide under. This picture was taken when she was a bit older and not so shy.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Possessive Tippy

In my last post I told of how Tippy liked to ride the tractors, what I didn’t mention was how possessive she was over them. A couple of occasions spring to mind when she let it be known who’s tractor it really was.

One time we had some contractors doing some work for us and one morning I had left our tractor parked in their way while I went to attend to some business with a cow in one of the sheds. I can’t remember what it was we were doing but as me and my workmate Steve were busy working away this young man came in the shed all red faced and very shaky. It turned out that he had got on my tractor to move it so he could get past but what he didn’t realise was that Tippy was behind the seat ready to pounce which she duly did some time after he climbed in the cab. The shock of her actions and the surprise was enough to turn the young guy in to a quivering wreck and it was some time before he felt able to enter in to any more work.

Another time when she laid claim to the tractor was when me and Steve were fencing at Moor Farm, we’d worked our way from the tractor so after a while Steve walked over to bring it back closer to where we were now working. He walked over to the other side of the field and climbed on the tractor but then I saw him get off and come walking back again and I was thinking it wouldn’t start or something. When he got back to me he announced that I would have to go and fetch it because Tippy wouldn’t let him get on the tractor. Apparently as soon as he sat on the seat she started growling at him. I don’t doubt him as he wasn’t the sort to make stuff like that up, especially as he had gone to the trouble of walking right across the field but after knowing Tippy for fifteen years I still find it hard to imagine her being that way with anyone as she was usually the most placid dog you could imagine apart from the odd occasion when she thought someone needed rounding up and moving on then she would do the usual collie trick of nipping their heels for them.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Tractor Tippy.

In the last post I told how Tippy enjoyed riding the quad bike. Well she also enjoyed riding the tractors just as much despite them being the most uncomfortable machines you can imagine, or at least they we back then in the days before air conditioning. Even on days when the temperature was way to much for a dog to be riding the tractor if I tried to leave her at home she was devastated, she just wanted to be out with me doing whatever I was doing no matter how uncomfortable that was. She liked the Ford tractor we had for a number of years because there was room behind the seat for her to make a little nest out of an old cushion and various old clothes.

We spent untold hours together on that tractor but unfortunately it wore out and the boss got us another one but it didn't have a place behind the seat so she had to have a bit of carpet on the floor by my left foot.

She didn't seem to mind though as there was no sign of her not wanting to be left behind.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Easy Rider.

In this picture you can see Tippy on the quad bike with daughter Fallon. From just a few months old Tippy leant to ride the quad bike and became totally at one with it, I only ever know of her falling off it one time by accident and even then the bike was virtually on it's side after I drove it in to a hidden gully on John Mosley's moor.

Her first ever ride was from the car garage to the gate at the end of the drive and she showed no signs of wanting to escape the noisey machine. For a while she would ride it sitting between my legs as she is with Fallon in the picture. This was mainly so I could protect her from falling off and not to prevent her from escaping. Eventually she became to big for me to ride with her this way so she promoted to the carrier behind me. This became her own space, not even the scariest cow could remove her from it. You could tell her to get on the bike and you knew she would stay on the bike until you told her to get off it. Even when herding the sheep and she was busting to join in the fun she wouldn't get off the bike until I told her to and this is how it should be because there were time that I sent her there for her own well being like for instance when dealing with cows or traveling on the road between fields. As you can imagine the last thing anyone wanted was for her to be jumping off in front of cars. If anyone was to see us sometimes though you would have thought that at any moment she was about to part company with the bike as she used to cling to the very edges of it all the time. The only time she lay down on it was when it was parked up somewhere. When in hot pursuit of something she would be jumping around all over the back in excitement but she was obviously master of the situation and at one with the bike and its motions.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Raw Taste.

I’m jumping the gun a little with this next post but as the story I have to tell is relevant to this time of year I thought it best told now rather than later.

At this stage Tippy would be about four months old and was now up for proper big dog walks down the fields so after dinner one fine evening we took a walk down the fields and through the wood where the scary wind rustles in the tops of the pine trees to a little neglected area that was home to a few blackberry patches. Here with the help of Tippy I picked a good lot of blackberries. I say ‘with the help’ of Tippy for good reason because I noticed while I was filling my container that she too was plucking off the berries. She wasn’t as fussy as I though and was helping herself to any colour she could reach including little green ones. This all happened in the days before mobiles phones with cameras or even camera’s without film so unfortunately all the pictures I have of this episode and a lot more in her life are just the ones left in my head so instead I will post this picture because from green Blackberries she progressed in future years to green beans carrots and raw apple. Every night up until just a few nights before she died she would come for a piece of my apple.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Great fun for a nippy Border Collie.

In this picture you can just see Tippy under the hedge, it looks to me like she has just been in hiding and is looking to see if the coast is clear.

If you also notice in the bottom left of the picture there is some tall plant growth, these are yellow Iris growing in an old garden pond. This pond was all cracked and held no water at all. For the first few days of her time with us Tippy moved in to the old pond and spent a lot of time hiding in the tall Iris. It was nice to think she had found a place to call home although it wasn’t much fun for those wanting to lavish attention on her. Eventually she moved out of the old pond but she was very adept at seeking out all the best hiding places the garden had to offer which at times was a great source of frustration to all, especially when you had to play hide and seek with the dog just to get her in the house so you could go and attend important business. The trouble was she was so darn fast that after rooting around and prodding a conifer bush for 10 minutes trying to dislodge a Border Collie that you knew was in there somewhere, she would suddenly dart out of the said bush into another one before you could even get off the ground. This was a great game if you were a nippy little Border Collie with nothing else to do all day.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Chosen Ones.

First pictures of Tippy.

For five years before our move to the farm where I was to become farm manager we had lived in Alloa which is near to Sterling in central Scotland. During this time the subject of having a dog had come up several times but it was always decided that we were away from home to much during the day. When I first met Vicki she had a dog but it died before we married. I too had grown up with a dog in the house but my enthusiasm for them never really developed beyond petting them when I felt the urge so I have to confess that whenever the subject of getting a dog was raised I felt less than enthusiastic about it seeing them as a burden and a tie.

A few weeks after moving in to the farm the subject of getting a dog came up once more and as all of the obstacles had been removed by the move I could find no objection on my part, my only stipulation being that it was a Border Collie. My reasoning behind this being that as it was to be our daughters dog and I was aware that children and pets can grow apart very quickly so at least being a Border Collie I could take to it later if need be.

So after browsing the local paper for Border Collie pups for sale and finding a place at Wingerworth near Chesterfield we set off one Friday evening after dinner to choose our puppy. My parents always came for a visit on a Friday evening so they also piled in to the car and came with us.

When we arrived the farmer showed us six pups, there was a brown and white one, a blue and white one and four black and white ones. The red one disappeared behind a corrugated iron sheet leaning against a wall so dad said not to bother with that one as it would probably always be timid. Soon everyone was taken with this particular black and white puppy and were on the verge of making the decision final when this other little pup came up to us and made it be know that she too was interested in finding a home so more or less straight away it was decided that if she wanted us who were we to refuse so after paying the farmer £65 he gave us some food for her and we took her home with us there and then.

By the time we had got back to the farm she had been named Tippy because all the tips of her extremities, tail, feet and nose, were marked white. Of course everyone was very excided so it was hard not to overwhelm her. So that is how we came to have Tippy in our lives, and to this day no one ever regretted being her chosen ones.