I managed to accomplish all that I set out to do!  I did forget to bring a tie out for Liath, but when I brought the ATV down to block the alleyway, I fed her in that corner and while she was eating, I went up with Gel and brought the sheep out.  Then we worked on shedding.  This time, I set the sheep in an area with very lush grass so they held relatively still.  We got a couple of sheds and Gel held them apart.  I know once he understands the task, he’ll be brilliant at it.  These sheep are not easy to be split.  One day, I might mix the goats in and work on shedding, but my gut tells me putting the goats in the mix will only make a mess of things.

Next I worked Fern.  I left the sheep where they were and sent her for them.  She split the flock, which is highly unusual for her because she has a strong sense of group.  Because they were in tall grass, she may not have seen the whole flock.  Instead of sending her back, I used the smaller group (about eight sheep) to work her and it turned out to be a good thing.  The smaller group moved quicker which made Fern move quicker so she was less sticky.  After a while, we went in search of the rest of the flock.  When we found them, I sent Fern for them and we brought them back to the waiting monster (Split).

Oh, she’s fast.  It took a long time before she slowed down enough so that I felt like I could start to ask for recalls.  I got them!  I had to insist a few times, but if she doesn’t call off, she’s very responsive to growling her name.  She’s a fun little dog.  I can’t wait to see how she comes along.

After working Split, I called it a day.  The sheep haven’t been worked much and I could see they were getting both hot and the lambs were starting to get rattled.  They haven’t had a young dog on them for a long time.  Fern was never zippy or zoomy on them.  She is grippy though and I’ve been growling at her when she flies in and grips.  Even though Fern seems like an old dog to me now, she’s really still just a baby dog on sheep.

I came back and started a pot of chili and instead of corn bread, I’m going to make sweet potato bread.  We bought a bushel of sweet potatoes from the farmer up the street so it’s time to start to incorporate sweet potatoes in as many dishes as I can.  I diced up one large sweet potato into the chili.  It ought to be very tasty.

Gel and I are going to attempt to do a demo on Friday.  We sold one of the rams to an agrotourism farm up above Statesville.  I had mentioned doing a herding demo to the owner and he was very interested so we scheduled it on Friday.  We’ll deliver the ram at the same time.  His sheep have not been worked by a dog before so it ought to be interesting.  I have complete trust in Gel to not make a mess of things.  It will be a good training opportunity.  This man has two Border Collies, he had three, one of which he sent off to be trained.  Unfortunately, that dog hung himself trying to climb out of his run during a thunderstorm.  He has a bitch and a puppy off the bitch (and the deceased dog) so this might be an opportunity to train another dog.  We’ll see.

As we were heading down into the back pasture this morning, we ran into Simon, one of my purebred cats, caring a huge field rat in his mouth.  It was still alive.  I don’t know what happened to the rat.  I hope he didn’t bring it into the house.  Yesterday afternoon, he came into the house with a live chipmunk.  I managed to catch it (with gloves on) and put it back outside.  There are bird feathers all over the yard (which is a much better place than in the house).  Good to see the cats doing what nature designed them to do.

Until later …