Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blame it on the Sheep

Sheep are getting in the way of blogging.  We have been working the dogs almost every day and doing sheep related chores, which has taken up a great deal of our time.  I am loving every single moment. 

Last weekend John had his first experience with shearing & getting personal with an uncooperative ewe. 

This is the same ewe that tried to kill me twice.  Well, maybe not kill me.  But she aims for me when she has the chance.  Thankfully, she is not my ewe, rather belongs to the land-owner and will be going along her merry way once he sells what is left of his flock.

When they were shearing the sheep, Monique and I trimmed all the feet. 

Jim the Llama was sheared on Saturday too.

He was not impressed.

He was in serious need of the hair cut.  

To safely shear him they tied him down in a harness of sorts.  Jim willingly went down and rolled over without too much drama.  

When one side was completed they flipped him over and started on the other. 

It was fascinating to watch them work on him. 

After Jim was bald.  As the land-owner said....Bald as the Dalai Lama.  In Jim's case that would be LLama. 

Later that day we saw Jim out in the freshly mowed pasture, rolling around hither and yon.  A happy, much cooler llama...who unfortunately got a wee bit of sunburn and has been hiding out in the shelter the first part of the week. 

Between shearing and having the pasture mowed John and I were running back and forth to Yelm for lessons with Dianne Deal at Ronnie Smith's farm. 

After working through some of the issues I wanted to tackle on Friday & Saturday, Dianne started Brynn shedding on Sunday.  

The idea is for me to learn how to do this too.

It really emphasizes why the flanks need to be square and absolutely no stepping forward.  There was a huge light-bulb moment for me in this session. 

All of our sessions actually.  I took home oodles of homework and a plan of what I need to work on before Lacamas - which is right around the corner. 

Our new field & sheep are ideal for Brynn at this stage in her training.  She is having to work double hard to read the pressure, draw and holding a line.  Which is exactly what we need to work on the most.

I have been breaking the sheep up into groups that are not completely bonded yet.  Three cluns, with the romneys.  It makes Brynn work twice as hard to keep them together.  Each set reacts to her differently.  If she pushes too hard they take off.  She is having to really feel that 'sweet-spot' between catching their eye, hooking them and keeping them moving. 

John has been re-learning how to work Beth.  So many things have changed in the way I trained her from when he started her.  It is a learning curve for him. 

And for Beth...who is none too pleased with these recent developments. 

She is a wee bit confused.  She is also taking HUGE advantage of him.  She is slicing flanks, busting the sheep up, being a turd.  Basically Beth's typical M.O.  I have learned how read her mannerisms, which allows me to stop her stinky behavior before it starts - most of the time. 

"Manipulative? Who? Me?"

My challenge is to keep my mouth shut and let him learn how to do things on his own.  I feel a little like I am tossing him to the lions, but the only way he will really learn & we can avoid divorce court is for me to step back and let him do this, and be gracious when he asks for help. 

They will come together soon.  He is running her in novice at his first trial EVER in September at Judy's Rocky Ewe Trial in Yelm over Labor Day. 

Our new Romney ewes are slowly getting into shape.  I have been careful about how much I work them so they can gradually build up endurance.  I am also selective about what type of drills and exercises I do with them so we can keep them fresh. 

Mixing the sheep up is a good way of keeping them light and a wee bit unpredictable.   Wait, didn't I say that earlier? 

I love cute sheep butts.  Over the hill they go...

The other day before the pasture was mowed I put Bea on sheep again. 

It was a bit of a rodeo. 

And I accidentally whacked her in the face with my stick, then promptly fell over. 

My first tumble in the new field.  I shot this picture right before I went arse over tea-kettle.

NOTE:  Do not try to shoot pictures while walking backward in an new field with waist tall grass and a pup with fetchy sheep.

Bea thought it was funny though, I heard her laughing all the way across the pasture as she chased the sheep into the trees.


Monique said...

Good rule of thumb expanded: Don't try to work your dogs and photograph them at the same time regardless of footing? LOL.

Doniene said...

Thanks so much for detailed descriptions and pictures!! I'm a novice handler and I love to glean new little tidbits from lots of different sources! Love your dogs and hurrah for you and John sharing the experience of working dogs together!! My husband (Mike) have just begun that and it has been good. We've always worked together on the ranch and training horses, but the dogs were never his thing, until I gave him one (Liesl). I think he likes it a lot, but he mostly wants her for a ranch dog, I'll get to trial her! Yeah!! Thanks again!


gvmama said...

When you have TWO passions; photography and working dogs, you're gonna end up arse over teakettle on more than one occasion. Nice photos. :0)