Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Work Out!

I hate my sheep.  Fully, completely, truly.  They are obstinate, stubborn and rarely do what I want them to do.  Today, with the weather somewhat nice and the sun shining I was feeling adventurous.  I had noticed the snow in the field did not seem as deep, so I made the executive decision to work the dogs (and sheep) in the field.  

It really did seem like a good idea at the time...  with Reba on a leash and Tessa on the work off we went.  Well, not really.  There is a fresh round bale and the sheep were bound and determined that hell would freeze over before they left the wonderfully delicious bale.  Tessa was equally determined that they would want to go clockwise and as such was resisting my efforts to get her to go that direction.  Unfortunately she need to go Come bye (clockwise) to drive the sheep through the gate into the field.

Using Reba's leashed power, and convincing Tessa to help we got the sheep out into the field.  Only to have them stick to the fence like glue.  Giving up moving them into the middle of the field I had Tessa drive them down the fence line.  Only to discover I couldn't get them to switch directions.  It would have helped if Tessa would have been willing to go around but she was convinced they wanted to run back to the hay and wouldn't budge (she was probably right - but it was still annoying).  Deciding I needed to help her I began walking to the heads of the sheep.  In between where I was standing and the sheep was a bit of a snow drift.  

It didn't look that deep.  As I began moving forward, I thought I could make it - the top of the snow was just over my boots - so if I stepped carefully I'd make it through without a boot full of snow.  Each step increased the distance between the top of my boot and the top of the drift.   Almost to the sheep I broke through the crust to have the snow bank hover around what would be the length of a respectable miniskirt.  Yep, that's right the snow was happily mid thigh.  And yes, I now officially had a boot full of snow.  

Really cursing the sheep, half crawling and walking I get to the fence.  Releasing the leashed Reba and calling off Tessa I figured Reba would chase the sheep back.  Nope, she ran to balance and stayed there.  With occasional forays forward to dive bomb the sheep.  Back into the drift I go to chase Reba around.  Mission accomplished with the sheep heading back up the fence.  

Eventually, with much cursing and strategic placing of dogs I managed to get the sheep into the middle of the field.  My goal with the placement was to lie Tessa down to guard the hay area and have Reba work both directions.  Well, the snow was still a wee bit deeper than I had anticipated.  You see, in order to get Reba to go around I needed to use body pressure.  Basically, I also had to run around the sheep.  Reba, of course kept stopping where the pressure was (in between the sheep and the hay - where the sheep wanted to go).  This is NOT where I wanted her sticking, so I'd run around and bump her back into circling the sheep.

By this point I'm close to wheezing.  I'm running in my Baffin's (like Sorrel) through knee deep, crusty snow.   In my head I'm begging Reba to just give me one nice circle so I could quit.   As soon as she does I lie her down opposite the pressure and tell her what a wonderful dog she is.
Calling her off, I'm ready to quit.  Her - not so much.  Off we go again.  I finally get her called off and head back to the corrals.

Tessa had been a nice little superstar lying where I left her (it helped that she was pooped).  Today, Tessa gave me some very consistent look backs (when you have two groups of sheep and you want her to go after the ones behind her) as well as a credible shed (splitting one group into two).  Very exciting for me.  Not so exciting was the mournful groan she gave when we got back to the house and I tried to wipe her feet.  I expect her broken paw and some muscles are going to be sore for a couple of days.  That was some tough slogging we did today.  (It wouldn't surprise me in the least if I was equally sore.)

1 comment:

The Canadian said...

Who needs a gym eh? Just strap on the Baffins and go herd sheep, calories burned: SEVERAL!!!!!! Ha ha!