I came home late from work. Usually my landlady puts the sheep out when she gets home several hours earlier, but tonight she did not. It was Freya’s first day outside with the sheep, without her sister. So I kept them in the night pen, as I’ve been doing since I feel the LGD are not 100% trustworthy with the lambs yet (a little playful). So when I came home, the sheep were full of zoomies and jumping beans. They went on a romp all over the place, exciting all the dogs…perhaps even confusing the LGD. Bucking and leaping, and racing around.
Meanwhile I stayed with the dogs in the yard, doing my poo pickups, and tossing balls and tugging as dogs zoomed by. Gabbit exhibited his extreme extension in running – that boy is gonna give Jai a run for his money. I finally had to put the boys away so they’d catch their breath.
So after the initial frantic potties, the dogs got to be in their “play groups” where I know I can have them unattended, and they will play nice. At least the two sets of girls. Jai and Gabbit are never unattended. It’s also a time to play with them individually, or work on some obedience. So when it was Jai’s turn to have a play group, I took him out with Pinkie and Aarti. I tossed balls for Pinkie, played tug with Aarti, and threw frisbee for Jai. I turned him onto a plastic frisbee in hopes we can compete in disc when we move. If we can overcome the challenge of not reading air currents and leaping early for the fris, he will be great fun in the game.
Jai was so grateful, and as always so proud to play with me. He is a perfectionist and hates to miss the fris… perhaps not so much a disgust at missing, but there is an extra pride to catching the thing.
Then I called the sheep. The Blackbellies were ready to be inside. They’ve learned a few things over the years. Night time is a time to be in the barn, and having lambs is best done in the safety of numbers, counter to their original instinct to isolate themselves.
It was Eva and Jill that didn’t want to come in. Not for shortage of food, mind you they had not finished the bale of hay I threw them this morning. The Wooly sisters just have a preference for green grass, where the Blackbellies prefer hay and brush. So after all manner of calling “Ladies!!!… Laaayyyyydieeeezzzz!!!” and banging on feed tubs, plus a couple disgusted attempts to bring her in by clapping behind her, and two LGD that would not push her, I brought Savannah out. Savannah has no issue with an appropriate bite of a sheep, but she has not been worked on sheep beyond very basic round pen time, and bringing home the flock in a group. In the group, she will bring back anybody that migrates outside the flock. But she really hasn’t an understanding of what we are doing, much less a loner that won’t come in…
So I give the ewe an evil glare, and switch dogs. Jai has not worked the sheep in awhile, though this weekend, he helped me guard a graze. It was completely lacking in work for him, but it was good for him to sit with me while they grazed. He was certain he should be doing more, and he should have, but I wanted him to just practice being calm. So I put him on a long line for safety, and brought him out. It didn’t take much. Jai is often my helper at feed time if the sheep are too pushy at grain time. He knows his job well as he’s had to step in for Kylie. Impulse control is his weakness. Only took two hits on her head, very appropriate, didn’t even hear his teeth clap. He met her in the air, turned her around, and held her while I opened the gate. I was most proud of my boy, and told him so. Of course he got over excited by my excitement and nipped me. One day, just maybe he will grow up. I doubt it. But maybe. I think he will be working so much more when we move. I’m thinking some C Course work is on his agenda. Not to mention a return to some urban SAR.
Meanwhile, I am keeping watch out the window. Freya was paired up with her sister Fleur tonight. Fleur was supposed to got to the vet tonight to re-examine her leg, but it just got too late. The two girls and their half sibling sisters were enjoying sisterly romping around, but as bed time approached, Freya wanted to come back in the house with me. My heart tugged at me. I wanted to bring her in. But she had a successful day outside, and she needs to integrate with the flock. If she can stay warm next to Dante or another sheep, then she can stay outside.
At first she had bedded down beside her jug, under the heat lamp. But Jill butted her away, taking preference to that spot for her lambs. So Freya got up and considered bedding beside Fleur. Finally she went into her jug. I’ll keep watch. I suspect she bummed milk off the other ewes today, as her bucket was not empty. It will be best for her in the long run if she will fully integrate with the flock. So hard. I wish Fiona was here. I’m so very sad, and feeling really awful about Fiona’s loss.
But a good night for Jai… is some consolation.