Saturday, June 10, 2017

Want to Start Trialing Again

I finally have decided that I want to trial again.  It has been years.   I think there will be money for it finally, as long as I don't go overboard, and the kids are old enough that they are more independent and don't need a parent at home every minute.

It has been so long that I'm more nervous about starting up than I ever was about trialing in the first place. I need to get over all that and just do it.  First of all, I'm looking at some other places where I can work my dogs just to get my feet wet again with different sheep.  If it goes well, I'll have a confidence boost. If it doesn't, I'll see where my training needs improvement.  

Pepper is the chosen dog, though I might trial Sprite some more in advanced also.  Sprite is lacking only 2 advanced cattle legs for a WTCH.   Pepper has never been to a trial at all.

To get ready, I have made the commitment to work Pepper every. single. day.  Regardless of weather or how I'm feeling, we are going to get out there and do a little something.  Or a lot of work, depending various factors.    

Pepper knows all the commands, her big issue is that if she gets a little too excited things go all to hell very quickly and herding turns to chasing.  Taking sheep off a fence line when I'm far away is one of her big bugaboos. She can do it just fine when I'm closer, so we need to work on that distance.  Letting sheep go through a gate and "escape" is another situation in which it is hard for her to be obedient, so we are going to be doing a lot of take pen/re-pens.    I figure this is something that a LOT of work, good work, not sloppy stuff, can fix because she will gain obedience and confidence in my follow through and in her ability to control the sheep correctly. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An 'A Plus' For Ben

I wanted to sort off the ewe with the older lambs today, to put her out with the rest of the flock, but keep the one pregnant ewe and the ewe with the one week old baby inside the barn still, in case we get more bad weather. 

I planned out a strategy using a small pen, two gates and Ben and it worked perfectly the first time! 

How many times does that happen?  Barely ever, and certainly never when anyone is watching.  No one was watching us today, so that is probably why. 

 It worked even though one ewe charged Ben right away when we walked into the small pen.  He nipped her in return, and then she behaved.  

The pregnant ewe went back in the stall, I changed the gates, the ewe with the older lambs went out into the field, I changed the gates back, and the ewe with the tiny baby went into the stall.   

All done!  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spring and Lambs!

We're having a pretty day today, so I took the ewes and lambs, who have been living in the barn, outside into a small pen to get some sun and grass, well, dry weeds, for the day.  They were not going to move at all for me, so I used Tessa (on a line, she's never done this before) to put them out and Ben to bring them back into the stall in the evening.

I took some pictures of the second time I moved them.
Ben did a great job.  He really knows pressure. 

The moms with the older lambs or not lambed yet ran right in to the barn first.

One day old Peanut is not so fast.

This is the closest Ben got to them, giving her plenty of time to feel safe enough to turn her back.

She's thinking about going in the barn with the other sheep.

Baby Peanut, unconcerned about me or the dog, is interested in this rock.

Wow, this rock is really cool.

Ben waits patiently beside me. 

Mom checks out baby again.

She feels safe enough to walk away.

Baby follows.

Checking out the dog again because we have moved up.

Now they are back in the stall.  One of the other ewes peeks out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Space Weasel and Sloth Saga

Title Page and Theme SongSingALong by Anne, Story and some illustrations (but not most) by Michael
Space Guardian and Nature Guardian
In the beginning, there was the Guardian of Nature and the Guardian of Space. They ruled the Universe together.  Peace and harmony happened.  But one day the Space Guardian declared "I should rule more than you for there is more space than nature!"

The Nature Guardian disagreed but the Space Guardian was too greedy so they were angry and didn't talk to each other.

They each made an army while they were not speaking.  The Space Guardian made an army of Space Weasels.  The Nature Guardian formed his from the wise sloths of Earth who think they are funnier than they are. 

To be continued

Monday, September 28, 2015

Saturday Morning Excitement

There is nothing that will get your blood moving and heart pumping early on a Saturday morning like a call from your neighbor saying "Your sheep are out in the road."

My wonderful husband offered to crawl out of bed and help, but I told him I thought Sprite and I could get them back ok.

A few minutes later, after grabbing clothes, boots and dog, I was walking down the road and saw them out in an open field.  

I sent Sprite "way to me" out into the tall grass, but the sheep saw me and bolted away, like I didn't feed them all the time or something, the bastards.  They weren't going to wait around to see if they knew me or not.  They ran across the road and up into another neighbor's yard behind some pine trees.  

Sprite couldn't see them go, being shorter than the grass, so I called her back and we walked down the road further.  I sent her again.  She still couldn't see where the sheep were, but she went all the way down the driveway past them, looking, then spotted them and inched up from behind.    I walked carefully slightly closer to the sheep.  About the time she made contact I stepped out from behind trees.  The older sheep came directly to me, recognizing me.  The lambs bolted to the side, but Sprite tucked them in.   

We took the sheep down to the nearest gate and plopped them in to our field, no problem. 

I immediately spotted the trouble:  a dead tree had fallen on the fence.  I hauled it away and went back to the house for more clips to hold the fence up again.  

I'm sure Decker (the brown one in the foreground of the above picture) led the escape over the fence, he's just that kind of sheep.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ben the Good Helper Dog

Today was deworming the sheep day, and Ben was such a good helper.  
Of course he was.  But today I really appreciated him.  We couldn't see the sheep from the barn, but I sent him out into the pasture on a "way to me".  I got all the gates set the right way, shutting some and opening others, and just as I was straightening up here came the sheep in an orderly line.  I stopped Ben and closed the gate.  Easy.

He lay quietly holding the sheep as I caught each one and gave it the medicine.  The only time he got up is when one young one bolted out of the group.  Ben put it back.

It should always be this easy.   

Friday, May 8, 2015


“There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.”
Aldo Leopold

Yesterday I took a couple of the dogs, Pepper and Sprite, out for a walk.   Spring is here, and the critters are out.

I first saw the coyote about a hundred yards down the road.  It stopped to look at us.  I stopped.  Once it had figured out what we were, it faded silently into the woods to my left.  

There are a lot of coyotes around here, but I almost never see them, like maybe twice in 12 years.  Hear them, yes, but not see them.   I got the distinct gut feeling that it was circling around in the woods to watch us from behind.   A few dozen more paces on, the dogs caught the smell.  They hadn't noticed before.  I love watching them scent.  Their ears and noses twitched.  

When we past a certain spot about 50 feet closer than where the coyote had stood, their heads snapped right in unison.  I guessed that this was the place the coyote had come out on to the road before our arrival.

Both dogs scented eagerly in the air as we walked, then Sprite had her head down when we reached the place I had seen it and she was drinking up so much heavy scent that she had to lick her lips to clear them.  Pepper was starting to lose interest "Eh, coyote, big deal."   

They both turned their heads to look into the woods at the place it had disappeared.  I'm guessing it was long gone by then.

That was our first morning encounter.

Another mile down the road a bald eagle flew just over my head, near the river.  I watched a pair of geese watching me as they paddled upstream.  

On the way back I heard the sweetest, purest sound in nature:  the Wood Thrush.   It has a habitual summer home at a certain tree farm on our road, and this was the first time I'd heard it back again. It is like a flute, only prettier.

Since I last wrote, we lost two more of our beloved dogs: Kip and Cinder.  We are down to seven dogs, which seems like enough for now.  

Since the snow melted I have been working Tessa, Pepper, Sprite and Ben again, usually just Wednesdays and Fridays.  Taz is a bit more dog than I want to handle at the moment.  If you know anyone looking for that intensity, he's available to the right working home.  This is not a dog to sit on the couch all day.  He's very affectionate, wants to be in your lap once he gets to know you.   I'm sure he'd work cattle.  His dad was Hank and his mom, Tessa.  He doesn't do anything really naughty in the 50 x 50 pen, he's just really intense.  He's learned to circle and to stop on balance, but I haven't done much more than that.