Monday, August 24, 2009

Working Zip...

We had to get all our sheep dewormed, castrated and scrapie tagged so we can get the lambs sold in September...YES everyone...they go to market...sorry! That is agriculture people! :)

Let Zip do all the work since she is back and staying sound...figured it would tire her out since Zip on rest is a very naughty Zip...I wanted to kill her last week for all of her "antics" so I am happy to give her a job that will require her to really have to work hard :) Doing "farm" work is her FAVORITE thing to do and she would so rather do a day's worth of pen work than be on the trial field...she likes to trial....don't get me wrong--anything involving sheep, but when the really hard jobs are needing help..THAT is when this girl shines :) When I need her to be independent and do her own thing...that is more her style :) Being obedient and taking every single mini flank asked of her...well she would rather we not do that :) So sometimes it made for some very interesting runs at the sheepdog trials...but I hold one rein (most of the time) and she holds the other....darn females :) Or maybe it is just because she was my first dog to train on stock...I think probably a little of both :)

We have two groups of sheep....the ewes with lambs group...and then Jello (the ram--there is always room for Jello right??) and his little buddies...a couple of wethers we keep with him so he isn't by himself.

The ewes and lambs are in the barn pasture....and Jello and his buddies are in a pasture behind the house....

We have the main pasture fenced off from the barn since we just cut hay off of it and we don't want the ewes on that just yet. So I had Zip do a short gather, put them in the barn and pin them up against the pen. Then we just have to grab a sheep with the end of the crook and flip all the necessary things...then a dot on the forehead and we let the sheep go and grab another. For the big group we let them out one at a time...while Zip keeps things in order from her perch (aka hay bale)...the process works really smoothly and after they are done Zip comes in and pushes them out...and we opened the fence to the main pasture and I had Zip drive them out into the corner (about 200 yards) and leave them there.

Then off to grab the ram, who can be a bit grouchy at times....sent her for them and she brought them up, and drove them to the barn..they were NOT wanting to go into the barn lot (they haven't been there in many months) but with some crafty sheepdoggin' we got them in and Zip penned them. (BTW one of her favorite things to do EVER...the ultimate in control I think :) We had some sheep that we had to band late so we got that done and all the other stuff....then Zip went in there (the ram did give her a look....but decided that it might be better to just get along) and brought them into the barn lot and I did a bit of work with her...working on downs, freeing up her flanks and doing a bit of driving--when she gets rusty I can normally do a bit of "at hand" work with her and then she is great on her longer distances again...just needs some refresher work. Then took them back to the pasture and drove them to the end of that just for fun :)

After that she did a nice outrun to gather the ewes and lambs back in (about 200 yards) so short outrun!! And took her downs, flanks and listened really well :) Brought them back in, penned them and left the door open so they could get out, but Zip thinks she did a great thing by penning them :)

If I could do THIS stuff with my dogs all the time, boy would that be THE BEST ever...I do wish we had more sheep so chores could be a lot more involved(Andy would love to have a hundred or more)...and the dogs could get more practical work. It can be very hard figuring out practical work for them to do (3 working dogs plus 2 a bit overkill on the working dog to sheep ratio :-))) . I would LOVE to hear any ideas on work for the dogs...creating things for them to do..stuff like that.

Zip is laying here in the grass, smelly, dirty and tired...sleeping away and as content as I have seen her in a long time. She was out working for well over an hour and loved every single minute of it...and so did I :)

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