Watch … and learn

On Saturday, Wally and I reset the ElectroNet then I went back to the house and got the Three Stooges (Fern, Cian and Kessie) and Wally and I went for a walk.  The Three Stooges were up in their runs while we set the fence because we had the flock of sheep running loose while we set the fence. Gel will lie down and leave the sheep alone.  The Three Stooges are not so accommodating.

It was a lovely day and it felt good to walk and let the dogs run with us vs. riding the ATV.  When we got back, I decided to work all four dogs.  I worked Kessie first and once again, she forgot that she knew what lie down meant and I chased her off the field a few times.  Once she was reminded that lie down meant that her belly had to be flat to the ground, we had a good lesson.  She’s behind Cian in knowing her flanks, but she’ll catch up quick enough.  She works very much like Cian, but as I’ve said before, she’s much more in contact with her sheep.  Then I brought out Cian and it started to go bad when he couldn’t move the sheep so I called Gel in and I discovered I was able to work the two dogs together.  Cian started to pick up on Gel’s whistle commands as well.  Gel has no trouble moving the sheep so I think Cian earned some confidence working with Gel.  Maybe he knew that it was Gel moving the sheep or maybe not, but I’m going to try doing this a few more times to see how it goes.

The last time I had Fern out it was to bring the flock back from the pasture and she did a stellar job.  I mentioned before that Gel was a bit too quick to use his teeth with Dreadlock.  I was extremely impressed to see that Fern had no trouble marching her back home.  She stayed off her well enough so that Dreadlock continued to move and never got close enough so that she felt she needed to turn on her.  On Saturday, however, she didn’t work so well at first, then she settled down and we had a good session.

All of the dogs are having trouble moving the entire flock because they are not a true flock at this time.  The wether and young ewe flock have been here for several months; the ewes and lambs have only been here for a month.  The South Carolina ewes and wethers remembered each other so they have the tendency to form their own flock, with the young ewes and wethers who have been here forming a second and the ewes and lambs who just arrived forming a third.  Any dog working them has to do a lot of sweeping and covering to keep them going.  Factor into that two ewes with brand new lambs who move much slower and prefer to be off on their own and you have a lot of work for one dog.  That they all want to go to where the fresh, young grass is adds to the difficulty.  I really saw this tonight when I was bringing the flock back.  I was a bit concerned with how Gel (and even Fern) managed the sheep the past few days, but I don’t think it is the dogs’ fault in this instance.

The amount of moving around that the entire flock was doing while I was working the dogs on Saturday is minimal so I plan to continue to train the dogs on the entire flock for now.  We’ll see how things progress on down the road.

Until later …