As you all know the first day of fall happened recently. For me this is a not so gentle reminder of the ginormous list of things left to do before winter. My amazing husband Jeff has a full time job outside the farm (required to support my wool habbit) so I try to get as much done alone as possible.
This past week I decided it was time to move the sheep closer to the house up on the hill. I chose to do this for many reason but they all mostly add up to making winter life easier. I am hoping that Purdy and the sheep living closer to the house will make them a bit less skittish. I might be able to make friends with the crazy llama.
Purdy did resist the initial moving plan as Jeff has mostly been the one feeding her in the morning which makes me less familiar face to her. I ultimately chose to leave Purdy behind to move last as she was not on board with my plan (and fight ing with Purdy is not my favorite sport).
Lately Gus hasn’t been super reliable working as he has been getting a lot of ideas of his own how things should be done (we’re working through it). I chose to not take Gus down as I thought my sheep were well enough bucket trained and we would be going through not well fenced pasture … boy did I misjudge that choice!
I had my bucket of grain, my aunt was gracious enough to come and help watch Hen during all this. That turned into why don’t you just wear Henley and you can help (two are better than one right!). So I opened the gait shook my grain bucket and they all stared at me like yeah… we don’t go over there so nope. Purl being the only sheep I can count on to run me over for grain came over and was grateful for the snack until I put a halter and lead on her and handed her to Annie. I told Annie to start walking hoping that the rest would follow purl and my bucket of grain… nope. After 30 minutes in the super hot weather for New York in September I almost had them all to the gate I needed them through (I make a great herding dog when needed I just lack a good bite when it’s really needed) when Ewestace decided she was no longer on board and was going back to her pasture … with her friends in tow. It was at this point after quite a bit of colorful language that I went to get Gus.
I won’t lie to you I saw all the ways this could go wrong in my head. Gus isn’t super strong at his driving and lately he has been very quick with everything. My big willow girls are in heat and have been extra difficult for the dog which just creates more pressure all the way around. I sat Gus down on the front porch where it was just the two of us and had a pep talk. I told him how naughty Ewestace had been and how I really needed his help and shouldn’t have doubted him in the first place. I told Annie to open the gate when the sheep got there and they could come in a bit quick. I should add that all this time Purl was oblivious she was all alone and was happy as a clam to be hand grazing with Henley and Annie.
Gus and I went all the way down to the middle sheep pasture to get be able to come behind the sheep. Gus made a lot of arguments with me about how driving sheep isn’t exciting and his flowing locks won’t be able to blow in the wind he creates on his bueatiful outruns. I won’t repeat what I said back to him. In the end Gus did everything I asked of him he did it immediately and correctly. It might not have been the most beautiful thing we have done but it took him less than 5 minutes to do what I had been working on for almost an hour.
In the end I left Purdy in the middle sheep pasture alone to think about her life choices. She was very dramatic trying to convince me I was making her die a slow painful death. Jeff was able to help me calmly walk her to the hill after he got home with no problems.
Gus got many cookies for being such a good boy and saving the day. Lessons learned … don’t doubt all the hard work you out into your working dogs. You will always have something that you are working on with them but that doesn’t mean that in the end when it comes down to it they won’t step up and get the job done for you.