Over hill, over dale …

Went to Statesville to get rabbits, stopped at a small local grocery store to check out the meat selection, then went up to the Christmas Tree Farm (a/k/a Red’s) to get the sheep.  They’ve been up there since Tuesday afternoon.

I brought Gel with me to Statesville with the intention of using him to push the sheep back down to my house.  It was a chance to experiment with what Kevin taught me at my lesson (i.e. not always fetching the sheep to me) and I was hoping Gel would understand that there was a reason to drive the sheep away.  As usual, the sheep were squirrely about coming out of the fenced-in area.  They bolted first one way, then the next, but we soon had them where they needed to be.  Draws suck and one day I may learn to read them.

Once we got them into the side field, Gel had a heck of a time getting them to go into the alleyway cut through the field.  The brush is well over the heads of the sheep and being prey animals, they don’t like to go where they can’t see on all sides of them.  In retrospect, I should have let Gel do all the work because he can read sheep far better than me, but (1) I wasn’t sure he knew exactly what I wanted; and (2) I wanted to work on his whistle commands.

A while back I switched to a Commander Series whistle because I was thinking he couldn’t hear me at long distances.  Rubbish!  He hears just fine.  It was that I had been letting him get away with not taking my first whistle command.  I am trying to wean him back on to my brass Montana Lite which is far less shrill than the Commander Series and being brass, my mouth stays moist while using it.  It is hard getting used to having a moist mouth and I do a lot of slobbering so the whistling exercise was as much for me as it was for Gel.

After a few failed attempts, we got the sheep heading down the path and through the gate on to my property.  I called Gel back (must get a recall whistle on all my dogs) and we went back home in my car.  Once we got home, I had him push the sheep out into the back pasture and out of sight of the house so that when I let Cian and Fern out, hopefully Cian wouldn’t see them.

I think, if I am patient and consistent, Gel will learn to love driving. Consistency.  I wonder why it’s so hard for me to be consistent.  I guess it just isn’t in me.

Anyway, milked Rain, put hay in their feeder and came back into the house to deal with an issue with Bank of America.  It took a while to get through their dial-by-numbers system, but got that issue finally taken care of.  It’s only taken two months.  Got back outside and found that Cian had found the sheep and brought them back home.  Fool (me).  Took the dogs for a run on the ATV and while up at Red’s (on the ATV) took down one line of my ElectroNet which has been up there since before Christmas (two more lines to take up).

When we got back, I put Cian on a 10 foot long cable (to prevent him from going back after the sheep) and plan to do some cleaning until noon.

I am scheduled to do a telephone interview (not a job-related interview, but one related to holistic cat care) at noon.  I was approached by a woman writing an article on holistic kitten care for Kittens USA for an interview.  Cool, huh?  Kittens USA is a yearly magazine with a huge subscription base.  They will mention my book which should boost sales.  Book sales have been way off the past few months.  I’m not surprised given the economy.  That anyone is buying the book is impressive.

Speaking of job interviews, I applied to two different jobs this morning.  They are starting to show more frequently.

Rose (livestock guard dog) is going to be in for a rude awakening next week.  I am going to set my ElectroNet down in the back pasture and she’s going to go down there daily with the sheep (sheep! not goats).  She’s bonded with the goats and could care less about the sheep.  That’s not the way it want it to be.  She needs to learn to stay with the sheep if that’s where she’s put.  She respects the ElectroNet and will not go through it.  Letting the sheep roam free is really taking a chance.  I’ve been lazy.  If Rose would stay with the sheep like she stays with the goats, it would be perfectly fine as she’d protect them, but she won’t stay with them unless forced.

Ideally I want to be able to get established paths set in the back pasture so I can move the ElectroNet into three different locations all linked together.  To date I’ve been setting it willy nilly out there and it’s a pain to figure out where to mow.  This is the year I am going to figure it out because I will have a lot of sheep here this summer.  We will likely have close to 50 lambs this year.

There’s so many things that I need to get down and figure out.  Running this small farm, essentially solo, is a tremendous amount of work, both physical and mental.  I am glad Wally is so willing to help me out when I need him to.  He is the best partner in the whole world!