Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lambs for Pepper and Sprite

I think I mentioned that Pepper has been fascinated by the lambs.  When one came up to her she was practically vibrating with excitement, and they were distracting her from working the wethers.
So yesterday I had Hank move the ewes and lambs to the smaller pen, which was a lot easier than I thought it would be because we had to go around the long way.  The hard part is usually getting them to walk into the barn, but around the long way we didn't go through the barn.   This made me wonder why I didn't always do it this way.  I probably will in the future, except that at some point I need to teach the lambs they can go in the barn.   It might be easier when they are a little older.   Right now the barn is more like a pond than anything else, so no point in trying to get sheep in there.    I'm glad it has an upper level for the hay to stay nice and dry.  

I first walked her around the pen on a line, keeping her next to me, then let out more line.   I had her stop, change directions and do a tiny walk up and out so I knew she was listening, then dropped the line.  At first she was coming around too fast, so I said "ahh ahh, easy" whenever she was too fast and gradually she slowed down.  After a couple minutes the lambs dropped to the back of the group, and some came over to investigate Pepper.   She got to sniff them, and figured out if she made a sudden move they would run away from her.   I'm not sure this was what I was aiming for, so when she did that I'd tell her calmly, "No, easy".   She listened and pretty soon she was moving them more gently without the sudden moves.     We probably spent about 10 minutes or less walking slowly around the pen.     I had her do some downs, outs and walk ups, but mostly just let her bring them.   She did very well, and the one time a ewe gave her a look she just walked up a step and the ewe thought better of it.     I really like this dog. 

Sprite got a turn next doing the same thing.   She was on ewes with lambs last year, when the lambs were a little older and not at the curious stage.  She did not know what to think when a lamb came up to sniff her.  She looked worried and gave a little snap at it.   I did the same with her as I had with Pepper and her sudden moves, telling her "No, easy".  When she waited patiently I told her she was good.  After a few tries she settled down and was handling the lambs as nicely as can be.    None of the ewes wanted to stand up to her either, so I think they are getting more trusting of her.   A few days ago one of the ewes tried to butt her when she went around the group.  
I didn't take any pictures yesterday, but here's a video from last summer with the little popcorn lambs.

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