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It would be very difficult to pay the mortgage, insurance and property taxes in MD primarily on the income from sheep sales so the definition of working dog requiring ones livelihood be dependent upon the dog's work would be very difficult here (and possibly many other areas). On the other hand, we do not use grain, 4wheelers, neighbors, etc to manage our flock and the flock must pay for itself and improvements on the property. I don't consider us sheep farmers (sheep income doesn't pay the mortgage) but I also don't consider us strictly hobbyists and by extension I don't consider our dogs as playing stockdogs.

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I think by Geonni's definition, very few of us would have working stockdogs. I don't make a living off my livestock either, but they also must pay for themselves and I do actively market meat and am trying to do the same with fleeces. Frankly, I wouldn't try to raise sheep without a good dog (or three).

 

I think it was Bill Fosher who once said he did the math and in order to begin to make a living off sheep in his area (the northeast) you'd have to be able to run at least 200 ewes. We have half that on the farm. We could possibly run that many, but then we wouldn't be good stewards of the land in the way we want to be (that is, by not overstocking and then having to supplement to make up for the lack of forage).

 

Shades of grey, indeed.

 

J.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Crawford Dogs, sadly no! Most of the local farmers take a dog out on a rope (or chain) and walk around the cows, getting behind them, they alternate pushing and 'flanking' to keep the cows moving forward. Most a: don't put good money into a dog, b: do no research before purchasing a cheap dog and c: don't want to put any time/money/effort into training a dog.

 

And when(if) they do get a good dog they have a problem understanding that the dog is trying to BRING the stock to them. The humans try to get behind and push the stock over the dog,(see c: above)

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It would be very difficult to pay the mortgage, insurance and property taxes in MD primarily on the income from sheep sales so the definition of working dog requiring ones livelihood be dependent upon the dog's work would be very difficult here (and possibly many other areas). On the other hand, we do not use grain, 4wheelers, neighbors, etc to manage our flock and the flock must pay for itself and improvements on the property. I don't consider us sheep farmers (sheep income doesn't pay the mortgage) but I also don't consider us strictly hobbyists and by extension I don't consider our dogs as playing stockdogs.

Same business plan as ours... ;)

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We have these discussions a lot in BC rescue. To me a working home is a home that has stock and the dog will get to work the stock. I would tend to think that it would be more often like daily or at least several times a week. I consider sporting homes to be homes like mine that a dog would get to do activities like obedience, agility, flyball, nose work etc., and maybe some "recreational" herding. Than we have companion homes that need a dog that will be happy with daily walks, some fetch and not much else.

 

My dog competes in agility and flyball and we go to weekly herding lessons (1/2 hour) from mid March thru mid October with the chance for a couple of lessons a month the rest of the year depending on weather and our weekend schedule. We are at some sort of training 3-4 times a week and non-herding competitions maybe 25 weekends out of the year. I would not consider myself a working home even though we get to "play" with sheep on a weekly basis for half of the year. We aren't doing real work/chores we're just working on skills. It makes Abbey happy and I enjoy seeing her do something that she was bred to do.

 

Gina and Abbey

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