Monday 7 March 2011

Hard at work

The dogs have had a busy time lately, much gathering to do for the scannings and then all the work in the sheep pens driving sheep forward to be scanned.

Moss has been doing most of the gathering. Glen being older and suffering from 'pains' finds himself left out of the big hill gathers, much to Moss' pleasure as he is far happier if he has you all to himself and doesn't have to share your attentions with one of the others.

Glen however comes to the fore when pen work is on the agenda. Tough old cookie that he is he does like to keep the sheep running forward on scanning and clipping days.
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The pair of them are seen here driving sheep into the sheep pens.
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They don't pussy foot around through the clarts (mud), it doesn't seem to bother them unduly, they have their minds on the job in hand and seem to be oblivious to whatever the conditions are on the day.
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Soon the pens are jam packed full of sheep all waiting their turn to head into the scanning crate
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They queue up patiently (or ought that be impatiently?) awaiting their turn. However, they're not always totally willing to walk into the crate, usually hopeful of escaping back off to the hill somewhere.

Now I could battle with these sheep in a physical manner, I could grab them and haul them into the crate or I could use 'sheep sense' and find a simpler solution. I always prefer the simpler solution.

A dog at the back of the pen and you at the front where the sheep are to run up the race. The sheep don't want to go to the back of the pen coz there's a dog there, so as you walk towards them they think they can see an escape route past you and head for it, by the time they've realised they've run into the race it is too late and they are trapped - crafty! Without the dog at the back of the pen you might well find the sheep are crowding to the back and not as keen to run past you and in the direction you want them to - I always opt for a dog in the pen!

It's a hard day for the dogs working the pens, they have to keep their wits about them, the sheep are bigger than they are, heavier also. The dogs have to shoot past the sheep and encourage them to move on, sometimes the sheep will try to resist and offer to butt the dogs, the dogs will retaliate and teach the sheep to show some respect.
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For all Glen loves the job his mobility can become an issue, he starts the day jumping between pens of sheep, naturally knowing which pen full have to be moved next and being their like a flash to do the job, as the day wears on he slows down and struggles to jump anywhere.

I have noticed that should a tup (ram/male sheep) be present in the pens old Glen will exit the pen. He has never shown fear towards anything to date and I can only presume that his mobility is his issue, should the tup go for him (which they can be prone to do) Glen probably feels he's no longer able to physically and successfully stand up to the beast. Which is fine by me. An injured dog is of little use and only causes great concern. Moss' grandfather suffered a cracked shoulder when a tup refused to turn and rammed and butted the dog up against a stone wall, since that day I have always erred on caution where truly bolshy sheep are concerned. I would sooner call a dog off and do the job myself than see them get hurt.

As said it is a long hard day for the dogs, tousling with sheep all day. Occasionally sheep run over the top of the dogs in a bid to 'escape', others face the dogs showing resistance and defiance, but they never win, the dogs always come out on top!
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At the end of the day I had two gay mucky, tired, but happy dogs. A quick run down to the burn (stream) to get the rough of the muck off and home we'd head.

Did I hear someone ask where Kale was? Well, it all depends on how much time I have on my hands, some days he'd be at the hill with Moss, getting an opportunity to stretch his legs but riding on, or tied to, the bike when real sheep work had to be done. On scanning days he'd be tied up out of the way as there is no time on hand to keep an eye on a keen young dog and make sure he wasn't learning bad habits or getting up to mischief. Don't worry tho' he was there or there abouts, his time will come!