Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sheep Camp Update

Today was the hottest day in Western WA...ever. Yes, I said EVER. Seattle topped out at 103 degrees. When I got home today it was 106 in my driveway. They have been keeping temperature records in Seattle since the 1800's. We have NEVER had temperatures this high before EVER. Let alone an entire week like this.

KOMO News - "Welcome to the Hottest Day Ever in Seattle"

Many of you are thinking (especially the Idaho folks) "Ahh that is nothing". But you have air conditioning. Most people in Western WA do not. We are not prepared nor have we ever experienced anything like this. We are heat wimps

The hottest week in Western WA history....and it just had to be the same week as sheep camp.


I would love to post a bunch of awesome pictures from sheep camp. But I haven't taken any. I am planning on changing that tomorrow. Our schedule has been so tight and I have been so hot, tired & grumpy pictures have been the last thing on my mind.

We start class's at 0630 and are done with sheep for the day at 1200. By 1030 it is oppressively hot and the sheep are open mouth panting and we are limited to working 5 minutes at a time. Poor beasties.

We have had some fabulous classes! The afternoons have been filled with lectures in the barn arena. Today Karen Child lectured on training exercises with demonstrations. I have filled my note book up with diagrams and notes that are going to be incredibly helpful.

After Karen's class today I decided that I am going to keep a training journal. Prior to going out in the field I am going to write down my plan, decide on what we are going to focus on, review the diagrams of exercises, work my dog then come back and make notes on area's needing more work or focus. This will really help me with each of my dogs.

Karen was very impressed with the progress Beth has made since spring. This morning I sent Beth on a complete blind outrun. She left my feet like a bullet, ran clear down to the fence line, then swept the entire field until she spotted the sheep in a ditch along the far fence.

Karen looked at me and said "Think she will go in the ditch?"

I said "Yep" then Beth disappeared. Next thing I could see was sheep popping out of the ditch. Karen told me to give her a correction because Beth was goosing the sheep & 'hot-rodding" a bit. Beth stopped, calmed down then to my amazement looked back, took the flank and gathered the rest of the sheep that split off, bringing them all together and right to our feet. Karen looked at me and shrieked "That was AWESOME!" I was so proud of Beth.

The next class I took Bonnie out for the large flock class. We went on walk abouts with huge mobs of sheep.

I am struggling with Bonnie's lie down. She has been REFUSING to give me a lie down AT ALL. This has turned into a very negative thing and I need to change the way I am approaching it (more on that later) because she is starting to shut down & leave the field again.

Bonnie did a very nice gather, and got all the ewes (approx 40 head) together and brought to me, then we started walking. Shortly after we were moving one of the ewes stepped on the back of my shoe and whoosh it was gone and I face planted on the ground, bouncing off one ewe on the way down. I tried to get back up, but the ewes kept crowding me because Bonnie kept pressing them closer and closer up against me.

Good news, I found my shoe but my legs are covered with bruises. Ewes are not nice to you when you are at eye level. I was also more up close and personal with more sheep dingleberry's that I ever want to see again.

I learned one very important thing. If you are on the ground in the middle of a flock of sheep, screaming for help...won't help! No one can hear you.

After I got back on my feet, I was mad. I was mad at the sheep, I was mad at Bonnie and I was mad at myself.

I called Bonnie to me. I didn't want to freak her out because she has been acting 'spooky' again, so I patted my leg and said "come'mere Bonnie lets go!". That was my second big mistake.

It was like a replay of the other day. She came flying at me then launched into the air and WHAMMO hit me on the side of my thigh AGAIN! My knee gave out and I crashed to the ground sideways.

In the process of falling, I ended up stepping on Bonnie and landed partially on her. She yelped and bellowed like she was dying. I screamed as I was falling. You would have thought something was being slaughtered.

I am sore, it hurts to move. I wrenched my knee and my wrist. I have bruises on top of bruises. I think I have scorch marks on my face from the heat.

But I am happy, my dogs are tired and content...and we ready for more sheep camp at Fido's Furnace tomorrow.


The Thundering Herd said...

Somehow, I had never pictured being stampeded by sheep. Thanks for the painful visual.

fulltiltbcs said... like a great time?? :-)

Emma Rose said...

Hmmm. The Duchess says we might need to re-think this sheep herding thing now. Sounds dangerous....the Duchess is a wimp, you know. I say let me at 'em!

Hope you are good as new real soon!

Emma Rose

Diane said...

I really feel your pain! Ewes can be rough.
We only went herding Tuesday at 8 am and it was HOT!! Roper is going to spend a few days at his trainer's farm this week. It is hard to be a novice trainer with a novice dog, isn't it?

Pamela, said...

Wooos! And to think Mom has adventures in obedience training, but not with sheep yet, I dare say this will be next. Can I have mutton for dinner?
-Kira The BeaWootiful