Unfortunately, I worked a bit late last night and didn’t have as much time as I wanted to work my dogs. I have been working on a very complicated transaction at work since before Thanksgiving. I probably have about 300 hours into it at this point. It almost closed the beginning of December, then went belly up. It’s come back alive several times since, each time, there’s a change in the deal structure, but it hasn’t closed. Well, it’s alive again. They say it’s going to close next week. We’ll see. The partner that I’m working with on this deal doesn’t seem to get around to asking me for status and giving me more working until 4:30 each day. Oh well, they pay me well and I like my job.

I figured if I was worried about panels, I might as well take the sheep down in the field where I have panels set. Unfortunately, the wind had damaged two of the panels so I needed to fix them before I could work. That took a while. The game plan is on Sunday to make PVC frames for the panels, which are made from plastic lattice, so they will be more rigid and less likely to bend. Instead of plastic stick-in-the-ground posts supporting them, I’ll go with light-weight steel posts. These won’t be as easy to set, but they should hold up better. The plastic stick-in-the-ground poles tend to bend and eventually break at the base.

After I had the panels set, I tied Fern to the ATV so she’d stay out of the way and set the sheep. We didn’t do terribly, but we didn’t do great either. It’s harder getting 12 sheep through panels and darned, I can’t read where the sheep need to be in order to get them through the panels. It doesn’t help that the field I have the panels set in is very rolling. Of course, I’m going to one day trial on fields that are rolling as well so I might as well get used to it. Once my panels are in PVC frames, I’ll put them in the wagon that attaches to the ATV and move them to different fields for practice.

After we worked panels, I thought I’d try to get the sheep into the pen we made in the same field. It’s made out of two cattle panels hinged together and set in a semi-circle with two heavy steel T-posts holding them in place. I got half the sheep in, but the others bolted to one side. The ones that were left in the pen started looking for an escape. The cattle panels moved when they ran into them, which added to their panic (sheep!). I can see that type of pen isn’t going to work. I need something more rigid. I think I’ll make a basic square pen using heavy T-posts and field fence and put a good gate on it. I want to be able to separate my sheep so I can occasionally work smaller groups, but it’s hard to separate sheep without any kind of sorting apparatus. A better pen may be something I can do this weekend myself. We’ll see.

The running order is up. There are 17 people running in Pro-Novice. That’s a pretty good-sized class. Here’s hoping we can have a better run than the last time I trialed in USBCHA. I feel much more confident and Gel is running quite nicely. Gel is never going to be a super-star. He isn’t “oozing” stock sense or talent, but he’s a good solid dog that I know isn’t going to make a mess of things out in the field. As a younger dog I couldn’t say that, but now he’s very reliable. He’s a good dog.