Farm Dog

The Wednesday after the FarmDog trial, we had farm stuff to do. The Farm trial was fun and we got a qualifying score, but i was not terribly pleased with what i put out there.  It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t good either.  She stopped when i told her to which was the goal, but she was flat in the pens.  I also didn’t throw up and that was the other goal.

The place i rent sheep at was sans a caretaker for a day, so Molly and i went up to fill in. As it is too cold for the grass to grow, the sheep are slowly being turned to supplemental feed for the winter.   Checking in involves finding them all, fetching them up, doing a headcount (approx 70), splitting the group in halfish and then putting each half on to feed.  There are two holding pens that are large enough to be helpful. A proper roundpen with two exit gates, one of which is located near the pen for the Livestock Guardian Dogs (who molly is terrified of as they bark) and a slightly smaller collection pen made of hollow tube cattle panels that are not secured to the ground in the front that only has a person sized gate.  While they are 50ft or so away from each other with facing gates, the hollow tube pen has a small gate and the sheep often slide away from the gate along the side of the pen and off into the forest.  Not that we learned that the hard way.

First task was finding everyone.   We had been warned that they can like to hide in treelines.  Today, they were out enjoying the sun and warm.IMG_20131113_151311_560
We got everyone fetched up without much fuss. There were 4 or 5 that weren’t down with the group so i had Molly fetch them first.  When the larger group saw what was up they flocked and came up on to higher ground.  Which was nice as high ground was closer and gave Molly more room to get around the group without trouble.  She did a nice job shedding out half of the group while in the round pen and then kept them off the feeder up near the gate while i fussed around and got everything into the feeders. Then brought them down and did a nice job with small flanks and slow work to get all the sheep to spread out and get a little bit of feed.  Once everyone was spread out, we went down the treeline to look for stragglers. This might sound weird, i took the denser trees on the fenceline and Molly took the low lying trees that split the field.  She is good about not working without me, always has been.  And i was pretty sure we had everyone.

On the way back up, i left Molly up on the highest part of the property looking down on the sheep and the feeders as i went off to open the second holding pen.  When i was closeish to the pen, i told her to walk up and bring them here as continued along my walk to figure out the pen. She had been self pacing and doing a nice job of reading her sheep so far. When i turned around to check in, the sheep were together in a nice group and heading my way in a quiet orderly fashion. They weren’t sure exactly what was going on, so they tried to break for the open field and the trees, but she did a good job of tucking their little noses back and pointing them the right way.

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After all the work was done, we did work the big group a bit. It is not something we get to do very often, but we’ve been working on driving and i wanted to see how our work was translating from small groups to large groups.  She’s doing ok. Trying to figure out speed and she *really* didn’t want them to get away.   I took this after she figured out we were done working and we were messing around. Thus her screwing around.  But whatever, she did some solid work and i can already see places where i need to work more.  She’s still unsure about taking flanks into the trees. And I am using her flanks incorrectly. I noticed i was trying to speed her up and say Come Come Come and come she did.. all the way around to make a lovely inside flank. Thus moving the sheep away from the pen and back out into the field. (facepalm)

The LGD’s only barked at her once though and they had a front seat pretty much the entire time.  I’ll take that as a compliment. 🙂

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