We didn’t do any real demos this past weekend. The bottom of the field where the course is set up was under water from the recent rain. Saturday’s weather was pretty nasty and there were not a lot of people up there. Also, I was quite distracted by Merlin.
What we did do was to keep the sheep up in an open area so the visitors could mingle with the sheep, feeding them bread, taking pictures, etc. They loved it. I used the three Border Collies in shifts to keep the sheep in the area. Even Buster the calf was in the mix and lots of people spent time with him. I was hoping he wouldn’t kick anyone, but I didn’t need to worry, he was a very good boy.
Split continues to work well. She’s still flanking excessively at times and working too close to the sheep, which is causing some of them to turn and challenge her. I feel sure that time and experience will correct those issues.
I’ve decided not to enter the January or February trials in the area. This is mainly a financial decision, but it also weather-related. We can have some pretty nasty weather down here in January and February. There is a fun trial down at Red Creek Farm in April and I’ll probably shoot to have Split ready to trial then. They do not have an Open class, but that’s okay. The only difference between Open Ranch and Open is the shed, so we’ll just run Open Ranch in this trial. The draws on the field at this Farm are rough so it will be good experience for us. I need to catch up financially from my recent purchase.
I spent most of the day yesterday with Cheri. I took her down to the agility field and ran Fern through her paces. Of course, Fern lit up like a light bulb as soon as she got near the agility equipment. After spending a good half hour doing agility, we took all of the dogs over to the sheep. First I worked Gel (oh is it good to see Gel marching behind the sheep in a drive without a bit of hesitation!), then I set the sheep about 100 yards away and sent Fern. It was clear as day to Cheri (who has no experience with stock dogs) that Fern was a lot more excited about doing agility than she was working stock. Some of what appears to be lack of drive is that, because of her eye, she moves slower than Split, but the keenness is simply not there; it would be there if I put her on the geese or ducks, or maybe it wouldn’t be. It would all depend what day of the week it was and what mood Fern was in. On Sunday, I used Fern to bring the sheep and calf down to the ElectroNet. Usually, she’s dying to work the calf, but that day, I had to cheer lead her along to keep him going. She wanted to work the sheep that day. Go figure. Then when Cheri saw Split work, there was no question that this is the right decision for Fern.
Perhaps in time, Fern would work through this. Gel did a lot of the same things, but there’s a different twist to how Fern does it and this lack of keenness coupled with her strong eye makes her extremely difficult to work with. Cheri is a good trainer and an excellent caregiver; she’ll do right by Fern.
Yesterday afternoon after Cheri left, I drove down to King’s Mountain to pick up a girth. I also bought an English bridle (with butter-soft rains) and new bit. The prices were hard to pass up. Now I’m all set to ride and ride I will around lunchtime when there’s less chance of running into hunters. As a precaution, I’ll wear an orange vest and put bells on the dogs. It is supposed to rain and be nasty tomorrow. A good day to get the house cleaned.
At some point today, I’ll do what I can to get the agility equipment out of the field and put the goats in that field for a few days to see if they’ll work on the hedge row that’s along the far side of the field. There are wooden fence posts back there, but getting to them would be difficult unless the goats do some cleaning. Being the prissy dairy goats that they are, it may not work out, but it’s worth a try.
Until later …