Last night, I went to bed a bit early and asked Wally if he’d put the dogs up before he went to bed. The dogs are crated in a room right outside my bedroom. This is in an effort to keep any ticks that may come off them contained. The room they are in is pretty wide open and it’s easy to pull the crates out and vacuum under them daily or every other day to get the ticks up. Yes, it’s tick season again and I’m still trying to figure out a way to keep them at bay.
I heard Wally bring the dogs in and heard the crate doors rattle as he opened and closed them. Then I heard him say, “Fern, what are you doing?” (in that Redneck speak that he uses). When I asked later what the problem was he told me that when I was cleaning yesterday, I had turned the door to Fern’s crate to the wall. When he opened the side door to put her in that way, she jumped on top of the crate and sat down. Given that I have my crates up on furniture dollies, that was a big jump for a little dog. We always give the dogs treats when they go in their crates so I assume since Fern couldn’t get into her crate the normal way, she decided to offer another behavior to get her treat.
Wally calls her “Footsy” because she is very (VERY) bad about putting her front feet on him. She knows better than to do it to me, but she can’t help herself with Wally. He thought he had cured her of this bad behavior until one morning he went out dressed for work and told Fern, “you keep your feet down.” Fern waited until his back was turned and came up behind him and put her feet on his backside.
She was a bit sharky yesterday. After we loaded the two sheep we took to the processor, I used Gel and Fern to bring the sheep back down to the ElectroNet. The sheep were a bit confused because they thought they had been brought up to be put up for the day. They moved quite quickly on the way up, but were sluggish on the way back. I turned back a few times and saw random sheep darting up closer to the front of the flock. It took me a while to realize Miss Fern was back there nipping them in the heels to move them along quicker.
I know better than to correct her too harshly for that at her age. In fact, Kessie was pushing a bit hard yesterday, but I let her push. Just like with agility, if you slow them down, it’s hard to get the speed back again. Should I ever start another dog, I’ll be extremely careful about teaching a lie down. Fern’s lie down is quite extreme, meaning she becomes one with the ground when she goes down. I wish I had listened to my gut instinct and kept her on her feet.
Given that the weather is getting better, I’ve thought a lot about trialing. Quite frankly, I’m not terribly inclined to do the type of training I need to do in order to obtain the exactness I need in my dogs in order to be successful in trails. Heck, I can’t walk a straight line, never mind keep a dog driving on a straight line. I want to train my dogs so that they are useful in their work here. There will come a time (it already has to some extent) that I’m going to need another dog to step in Gel’s shoes. Fern is next in line for that, but I hope that Kessie can become useful as well. As far as trialing, well, I might do local trials with the goal of getting the sheep around the course as best as I can, but I am not going to worry too awful much about lines, etc.
Besides, I don’t have the money to trial.
There’s way too much on my plate right now to worry too much about competition of any kind. I’m hell bent on growing/producing/making as much food for me and mine as I can this year and that takes a tremendous amount of time and effort.
I had a brilliant idea about a chicken tractor last night. It’s hard to figure out a way to construct an enclosure on wheels that is light enough, yet sturdy enough, to be a chicken tractor. I know lots of people have done it, but both Wally and I are still struggling with construction plans. I’d love to be able to put chickens in the fenced-in area to work up the manure and hay, but Rose has other ideas about chickens in there. On the days that she goes down with the sheep, the chickens and ducks can be in there to their hearts’ content, but on days where it’s too hot for Rose to be down there without shade (another thing we need to construct, portable shade), she’ll be in the fenced-in area. Given that Fern is quite talented at moving chickens I thought I might be able to make four panels out of welded wire and use plastic T-posts to hold the fence up. I could throw some shade cloth over the fence and it just might work. I’d make the enclosure 8-foot x 8-foot. I’ll have to think more about that.
Speaking of chickens and ducks, we are getting over a dozen eggs a day!
This afternoon I’ll pick up the skin, organs, head and feet from both sheep and the quarters from the sheep that was processed for the dogs. I’m sure the dogs (and chickens) will enjoy that. We won’t have the processed lamb until next week.