Glimpses of progress

We brought the 14 lambs and 9 goats down to the back pasture this morning.  I mowed the paths last night and had the fence all set.  All I needed to haul down there this morning was water.  I am truly amazed at how easy it is for my dogs to work these lambs.  Last year at this time Gel and I had a horrible time with the lambs.  Last year, I kept the adult sheep with the lambs for several weeks so that the lambs could learn the ropes.  This year, I brought ten lambs into an environment that they’ve never seen, mixed them in with four strange lambs and nine even-stranger goat kids.  Not one has hit a fence (yet!).  That’s progress.  That Fern is working them as well as she is pleases tremendously. 

This morning on our trek down I was going very slow on the ATV because I was hauling water in a barrel in my wagon.  I go slow so as little as possible sloshes out.  Mustn’t waste water!  Because I’m going so slow, I can turn around a lot and watch how the dogs are working.  As they’ve been doing for as long as Fern has been assisting with this task, Gel brings up the rear and Fern stays out at 10:00 or 2:00 maintaining eye contact with the lead sheep so that the flock doesn’t go on ahead of me.  One of the dogs has to bring up the rear to keep the goats going.  Goats think nothing of leaving the group and going off on their own.  This morning, however, I saw that when Gel and the goats got too far behind, Fern went back and nipped them in the butts to get them going to catch up.  I wish Gel would do that.  He won’t bite unless I ask him to and then he’ll head which is quite ineffective at getting stock moving forward. 

Getting the group into the ElectoNet was a bit tricky because the lambs were frightened of the fence, but we got it done without any muss or fuss.

Gosh, when I think back to the trouble Gel and I had early on even with older (dog-broke) sheep I realize how far we’ve come.  I do think Fern has a lot of talent, but I also think she’s learning a lot from working with Gel.

If all goes well, I’ll have a load of dirt to fill in the holes in my agility field.  Yea!