August 08

Lambing Blogs: April 08* April 08 Part 2* May 08

June 08 July 08

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1st August

More of the same today except I also practiced shedding. I don't like training dogs to shed and I've not done a great job on either Mist or Ffi. Ghost loves shedding so has survived my training techniques! Shedding (I think) is the hardest thing to teach a dog, and also the easiest to mess up. So today I was practicing with two ewes with lambs. The ewes split easily thus building the dog's confidence which is what both need. I started with a flock of about 50 ewes and lambs, and shed them down until I had two ewes with a lamb each, then split them a couple of times. I was pleased with how the dogs did. In case anyone reading doesn't know what I am talking about, shedding refers to spliting sheep into groups with the dog in the middle of a field. You may use it at tup time if you are changing the tup or taking the tups out, and it's done in sheep dog trials too. At the National we shed and single, which is splitting one sheep off the rest. Another time you shed sheep is at lambing time, if for instance you want to take a ewe inside, you can't take the whole flock in, so you shed her off and wear her away. To confuse matters further, we also have something called a shedder which is part of a handling pen where the sheep run up a race in single file and you can draft the sheep two or sometimes three ways, to split them into groups. This would be used at speaning time (weaning) and various other times of the year.

2 August

This morning gave Ffi and Mist their usual work out and in addition I had to catch several lame lambs to sort their feet out. They have a condition called Scald (pronounced Scad at least in this area!) which is a bit like excema between their cleets. Long grass is thought to be one cause of it. If treated early it isn't serious but makes them dramatically lame. One application of terramycin (or similar) antibiotic foot spray will cure them in a matter of a day or so. If left it can develop into foot rot where the horny shell and the soft pad of the cleet will separate and become a vicious cycle of foot disease. Foot rot is also curable with heavy and regular foot paring and antibiotics but it's better to prevent it than cure it if at all possible. The nature of foot rot makes the foot mis-shapen so it doesn't wear down as it should contributing to the vicious cycle!

Bringing them down to the "pen".

Mouth of the "pen".

The "pen"! Really just a corner of the field with two sheep dogs forming one side and a shepherd trying to catch the sheep in the open. Ffi and Mist are well practiced at this art since we hardly ever have a proper pen on the reserves. They will hold them against a fence or in a corner while I catch the ones we want with my cleek (leg crook). I get them at the hock on the back leg with the cleek and I find this by far the easiest way to catch Shetlands who will jump out of a neck crook with ease. I am concentrating on my side of the job and Ffi and Mist work completely independently keeping the rest in check until I tell them "That'll do".

Had a good training session with Bonnie who is staying here for a couple of weeks tonight. She is a Bearded Collie and has only seen sheep a handful of times but she is incredibly natural. She also doesn't have a preferred hand and runs equally well on both sides, she also lifts them off the fence with ease. I think she was a also a sheep dog in a previous life! I am starting to put her on her sides and make her lie down. She doesn't really want to lie down and gives me the beardie grin every time to see if I really mean keep running! She is lovely and will train really fast by the look of things. Remy is madly in love with her and has abandoned his love affair with Mist for this tall long haired woman. However, as usual it's unrequited, poor Remy, will he ever find the right woman!

Jo is also still here and giving me a good workout to try and make progress with her! I saw a bit of an improvement and she is definitely less sulky. Once she realises she must keep the same distance on the left as she naturally does on the right, things should fall into place quickly.

4th August

Bit of a different day today. We had a film crew come out to film us for a Gaelic TV programme which is covering the National, International and World Trial. They are doing ten episodes with features on a couple of things, one of them being Ffi, Mist, Me, and the grazing project we shepherd.

It was quite a long afternoon but they seemed pleased with the footage they got.

Film crew on top of the hill with Mist going to check them out!

Presenter on the right, director far left, camera man in the middle.

End of a long day!

Mist driving a ewe and lamb away.

Something amazing happened tonight! After months of Mist hating the sight of Remy, and him lusting after her obsessicvely, there has been a change of status. Since Remy has fallen in love with Bonnie and has been ignoring Mist, Mist appears to miss the attention because tonight SHE was flirting with Remy and wanting to play with him! The funniest thing was that Remy just looked at her and walked away. Apparently he prefers his women to dislike him, lol.

10th August

Very busy and getting ready for the National which is Thursday Friday Saturday this week. I will be away from Tuesday and be back late Saturday night. Therefore the blog might not be updated until then. Sorry!

11th August

Have spent the evening getting ready to leave for the National tomorrow. First I cleaned out the van which was fairly disgusting as both Ffi and Mist have been casting like mad, and it's been dry and dusty so there was a lot of dust too! Sadly it will probably be in the same state when we come back but it looks reasonable just now.

After that I decided Ffi looked a bit dusty herself so decided she needed a bath. This is probably the second bath of her life - I gave her one when I got her because she stank but I don't think she has ever had one since. She is a perfect lady so bore the water torture with good grace. She even obediently waited in the bath while I ran and got the camera to torture her further.

There, doesn't she look happy - oh ok no she doesn't but she forgave me!

And check out those bulging thigh muscles, all the fitness training has paid off!

Unfortunatley even more hair fell out so she is even more bald than she was. Oh well!

I haven't decided whether to bath Mist yet. She doesn't look too bad however she did look rather smugly at Ffi when she saw she was all wet and fuzzy so possibly she deserves one too!

This is probably the last post before I go so I'd like to thank everyone for the good luck wishes!

15 August

I ran Mist yesterday and the sheep were very tricky. I didn't think they looked too bad until it came to running on them but they were very hard to get to lead off on a straight line. We had a good start losing only 2 points on the outrun (I don't know where because she went out perfectly) and 4 off the lift. The less said about the fetch and drive the better! Needless to say I think we were off line the whole way round the drive and despite Mist taking every command I just couldn't get the sheep on a line at all. I felt we redeemed ourselves a bit in the shedding ring losing 7 off the shed. Then completely stupidly I let the sheep get past me out of the shedding ring and they went past the pen. This cost us a LOT of points as despite having a good pen, we lost 11. Completely my fault and a very novicey mistake. Once we'd penned we were back in the shedding ring for the single. I think I was most pleased with the single since it's both of our weakest points and a lot of people couldn't get the shed as the ewes (greyfaces) were quite touchy in the shedding ring. We got the single without too much trouble and she held it very authoratively. We lost 4 off the single. Thanks to Louise for the photos.

On the drive

At the pen. Mist is on her feet but the rise of the ground makes it look like she is lying down so you'll just have to take my word for it!

I've now run Ffi. I wish I was a better handler! Got off to an excellent start with a very good outrun. Stupidly I thought she was going to come underneath them and I whistled on her outrun and I was wrong, she was exactly right. Had a very good fetch getting the fetch gates which had eluded a lot of people. I had a tight turn round the post and then Ffi made her only mistake which was to over flank and push them offline. She has a very annoying habit of ONLY doing this at the National and never at any other trial or at work! We got the drive gate but the cross drive was not very good with them being offline a lot of the time. All my fault, Ffi was going like a trouper. We missed the cross drive gate. Return leg of the drive was ok but I stupidly went into the shedding ring before the sheep were there. I won't make that mistake again! Got the shed with little problem but afterwards a few people told me I should have worn them slightly longer. I was then chucked off at the pen which was disappointing. All in all I was really pleased with how she went and annoyed with myself for letting her down! Oh and for all I've been worried about her being fit enough, she wasn't even panting when she came off! Lots of people told me off for letting Ffi down as she was going so well.

Flying on her outrun!

Bang on for the fetch gates

Looking classy on the fetch.

Turn around the post.

Drive gates.

Heading back to the shedding ring.

19th August

Still recovering from the National and had to spend today entertaining the BBC's Landward team (Scottish equivalent of Country File). They were also interested in the Flying Flock so we spent the day moving them around and putting them in the trailer, and out. The sheep were quite perturbed to find they were still in the same place and had only had a short trip around the car park, when they got back out! We were really lucky with the weather, torrential rain all day apart from a window of 5 hours for them to faff around for 4 minutes of TV!

When I got home I decided I'd better cut the grass round the house as it was getting a bit long. So I got the garden lawn team out:

Hopefully they will get the job done quickly, they are hard workers and work about 23 hours a day.

The good thing about these lawnmowers is they pick up all the "cut" grass. The bad news is they deposit it in smaller but squelchier packages. Thankfully now I have my new fence I can prevent Remy using it as a face pack!


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