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A lovely morning?s shepherding


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My trainer decided that we (my trainer, her stockman, and me) were going to celebrate a couple of full-on months on the farm ? weaning, crutching, sorting sheep into their proper mobs etc.etc. by spending a quiet morning shepherding. She uses set stocking ? each mob has its own paddock. For the flock ewes, the paddocks are about 140 acres or so, undulating country with a few steeper slopes, and some odd shapes. The girls develop preferences for places to eat, so our task this morning was to take a paddock each, gather the mob there, and take them to a part of their paddock which was being under-grazed, and keep them there for a couple of hours to do some eating there. My little Kirra and I got to work the 3 year olds ? about 180 or so), and take them about three-quarters of a mile or so across their paddock and down a slope to a smaller triangular part at the bottom of their paddock. We had a few blips, but on the whole, it went well. Other than a bit of a cold wind, it was lovely sitting there watching the sheep settle to graze ? which they did for an hour or so ? then they ?coiled? ? gathered close together ? for their midday nap. By the time my trainer and her stockman came back down the hill in the truck to pick us up, Kirra and I were nearly asleep too!


P.S. BTW,Andrea, if you're reading htis, haven't gorgotten about the drawing of the shearing shed - just haven't got it done yet!

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Yes, I am just so lucky ? both to have the trainer I have, and to be retired from full time work, so that I can take advantage of the opportunities I have. It works both ways, since now that I have learnt to do a lot of the sheep chores, I have been able to help out, especially when the stockman was sick. I love the land and the sheep ? always had a hankering to have a farm ? now I have all the ?fun? and experience, without the worry. And it's amazing when I think of the new skills I have learnt - today my trainer and I worked out how to put together the sheep-handling equipment(that tips sheep into a cradle). We're going to try to start trimming feet next week.


I have these Boards to thank too, Eileen, as I don?t know that I would have taken up the chance to try Kirra on sheep in the first place if it were not for the Boards.


Today?s shepherding task was to bring the 350 or so ewe lambs down from the far end of their 70 acre lucerne paddock to the end nearest the yards, where the lucerne is longer ? luckily, it is also where their water trough is, and it was a warm day, so all Kirra and I had to do was to gather them all, and persuade them that a move to the other end was a good idea. The lambies did the rest. These lambs have only been weaned for about 4 weeks, and they have been a pain to move in the past, so I was quite pleased with the job Kirra did today. It wasn?t text book perfect ? but it was effective, and interesting in that she gathered the main mob, then came with me to get a second lot that were pretending to be thistles ? and then went looking along a fence-line to make sure she had all the lambs, before dropping down to get behind the mob. I really liked that she was using her brain and her memory of where she had found lambs before in that paddock, rather than just working mechanically.


My trainer and I were talking this morning, and agreeing that one of the advantages of the shepherding, is that there is no great pressure to move the sheep quickly, as there is when you actually want them somewhere to do something with. This means that you?ve got time to do things like let the dog work things out ? and let the dog have a rest if she goes into ?brain cramp? mode. Our sheep are pretty polite, and in the big mob, they don?t tend to bolt off if you stop working them ? they just settle and graze, so you can let the dog have a bit of a rest, a drink, and then get back to work.

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