Free herding!

Oh my gosh
Best herding day this winter! The arenas were iced up terribly from all the rotten freeze/thaw weather we have been enduring. Suzanne gave the OK for the Saturday morning winter die-hards to herd in the open hay fields. The thaw and wind have scoured the fields down to their bare stubble. Absolutely dreadful for the coming hay season – sure to experience terrible winter kill between the loss of insulation and the ice ponds. Delightful for the sheep to have a taste of grazing in February, months early.

We all took a turn humbling ourselves and dogs making our best efforts at getting sheep into the open field. Our deficiencies were shortly illustrated. We all managed to get the sheep across the road then proceeded to rapidly lose control of, well, everything. The sheep escaped back to their pen again and again and again.

Then Suzanne and Chickadee showed us all what herding is supposed to look like. Effortless, calm, collected. In short, beautiful. Those herding partners swept up the ewes and escorted them to the middle of the ginormous field with deceptive ease.

Breath taking. Truly.

Them the rest of us took turns working the sheep back and forth across the stubble. It was an extraordinarily satisfying experience.

Kate was pretty worried about the environment and told me pretty clearly she preferred having fences as a backup. She looked longingly up the hill and would drop her sheep to start slinking away. She came back when I called and I kept her run very short so I would not burn her out. She did find the manure spread as fertilizer most delectable.

I was extremely proud of the teamwork Bing and I demonstrated when it was our turn. He was naturally excited and amped up as we walked down to the sheep yet he exerted self-control and remained with me rather than haring off on his own for bowling. The white ewe watched us closely while the others grazed. We stopped at a polite distance so they’d relax. We tried a little driving and fetching and longer fetches. The longer fetches were certainly my boys favorite. He adores chasing his sheep.

I wish we could have stayed down there for an hour or so but it was chilly and others were waiting their turns.

It was such a wonderful day. It’s a memory and experience that’s going to tide me over a lot of future herding blunders.

So glad we had the experience.

Here we are. The tiny dots below the far treeline.


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