Friday, April 8, 2011

Less snow, more pond

Our small pen, the 100 x 100, is now just about clear of snow, but it is half pond.    So it's a good thing the big field is usable now as nobody likes to work in a pond, especially not sheep. 

In spite of the pond, I worked Pepper in that pen for a short time yesterday.   It was dusk, which is the worst time to work sheep with a fresh dog in a new and larger area.   Well, Pepper has been working out in the big field lots of times before, but I just didn't have a good feeling about it yesterday.  She was excited,  and it was dusk, when sheep are nervous anyway.   Instead we had a very short, reasonably calm and productive session of walk up, out, flank, repeat.   She did really well, and the only real problem was the lambs in the next pen are just fascinating to Pepper, and she kept looking over at them going "Can't we get those guys instead?"   She finds the work in the small pen a bit boring, which is good, I want her bored.   Bored means calm.  She would never quit because of boredom, any work is a better than no work.    I'm planning to try Dana Mckenzies secret weapon: lambs, technique with her very soon.  Check it out on the Working Aussie Source.

This means getting all the ewes and lambs into a smaller pen on the other side of the barn.      I know from past years that this is a difficult task so I'm waiting until I have lots of patience and time to begin it.  

The barn stalls are still too flooded to use.   Just about the time we got the gutters fixed and water stopped flowing in from that, the snow piled up on the shady side melted and went straight into the barn.  The whole thing needs to be raised a couple feet but I don't even want to think how much that would be.  Anyone want to come to a barn raisin'?   
The dog kennel on the other side of the barn is perfect for small pen work, and is used more for that that to keep dogs contained- they're usually running around the yard or in the house.    It's also good for working ducks.

Michael and Pepper in front of the kennel/working pen we will use
Wednesday was a big day for training dogs, so I didn't get any posts done, but I tried both Sally and Tessa on the ducks.  Tessa has worked ducks before, and she did really nicely.   She likes to balance them to the fence, which is handy, but not always what I want her to do.  She'll drive them right down the fence, but doesn't flank easily from that position.   You know, the "I got 'em here, leave me alone"  mindset.  So I think that is what we will work on next time.   When I would try to push her one way she would flip out and back and go the other way so she could hold them still. 

Sally was on the ducks for the very first time, and she was excited and trying to pounce on them at first, then when I corrected her for that she wasn't sure she should do anything with them at all.   I got her excited about them again and then we stopped.   I think I'll give ducks a rest for a while and just do sheep with her as that did not go as well as it could have.   Once she gets more skills with sheep it should make ducks easier.

Sprite and Hank worked out in the big field Wednesday, and both did very well.  Hank is still working on "out", now from more difficult positions.  It's much harder in a bigger area where the sheep might actually run away.   Sprite worked on driving the sheep down a fence line and she did just wonderful.  She really had the idea of positioning to keep them moving but keep them on the fence.  She'd take a step one way or the other to adjust herself without commands.   There were only a couple of times when she got darty (zig zaggy because she was too close)  and I stopped her to let her settle down, then walked her up again.     Now we just need to do it in many more places with different sheep.


  1. I am loving the blog!

  2. I love your blog.
    You should write about David and Farley