Friday, May 9, 2014

good dog

Finally! A spring-worthy header photo. My father will be thrilled. He has been complaining about the unseasonably snowy weather at our farm for at least a month now.

It was one of the many, many tasks I was finally able to get to today. I always had Fridays off—well, almost always, except on the weeks that I had traded my day off for another due to my required presence at home on a different day. But somehow today felt different. Maybe because it felt less like a mad scramble in a futile attempt to catch up, but more of a maintenance of the status quo. Whatever it was, it made all the difference.

I was even able to get to chores this morning, mostly because I knew that whatever didn't get done in my husband's office could be taken care of whenever. One of the biggest tasks was to move the electric fencing to new grass, while keeping their access to a shelter should a storm roll through. A lamb got out again this morning, Henrietta's spotted ewe (third from the left in the header photo). I was working by myself, because my husband was out for his run. It's not easy to get one escapee back in by yourself, because you have to lift the fence and move the sheep all by yourself, and they are not inclined to move toward you without someone pushing them that direction. Also, if you try to open up the fence, the others rush out.

I did have the dog's help, however, and every so often he can be invaluable.

I started by moving the fence and feeding the rest of the flock first, so they would be distracted. This caused the escapee to go crazy, because she missed out on her grain breakfast, but them's the breaks for bad behavior. I called Dusty to help me, but instead of coming around the back of the ewe as I anticipated, he came toward me (he is a good dog, but not necessarily a mind reader) and scared her even further away.


I moved  him to block her escape down the driveway, and put him into a sit-stay. Usually the sheep move away from him, but she promptly ran and hid behind him. Right behind him, so close that she was peering around him at me. Very unusual sheep behavior. Still sitting, Dusty gazed at me with a "what now, boss?" look.


One command that Dusty knows very well is "get in" and its opposite "get out," to move him into fenced areas or through gates. I lifted the fence, told Dusty to "get in," and she dashed right behind him into the pasture. OK, it was a bit unorthodox, but since I got the result I wanted, I'll take it.

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