As promised I will attempt to keep a monthly blog. This is June with the end of May tagged on!
I am home at last. Still got plenty of work to do but it's nice to be home, really nice! I got home about 1pm and I enjoyed sitting around doing nothing for a few hours. However. Old habits die hard and after a little while I thought I'd take Mop out to see what she was going to do on sheep after a break.
I was mostly pleased with how she did. When I first started her she was very one sided and just before lambing time I had got her going both ways albeit a bit reluctantly. Today she was glad to be back at the sheep. She is a little sensitive because her desire to please me is so strong but she has plenty of guts on sheep. She was going both ways and keeping off most of the time. I will start taking her to bigger flocks of sheep now and train her that way. She still calls off obediently and has never needed a lead or a long line near sheep.
I took a couple of pictures which are on Mop's page.
This morning before I came home I worked Ffi and Mist together for the first time in a while. It wasn't a taxing job, just shifting the remainder of the fat hoggs (about 60) and bringing the tups in (about 100) to the shed as they are being clipped tomorrow. I must say it was nice to be working them again. I am really pleased that Ffi hasn't lost much fitness at all. When she had her last litter, she had a c-section and I just let her lie with the pups until they were about 8 weeks. It was a big mistake as when I started working her she was like a 15 year old dog! It took about a year to get her back to peak fitness. This year Ffi is 8 and has a limited number of years left trialing. I want her to be in tip top fitness for the National, so as soon as her pups are weaned and her milk has dried up, I will be working on her fitness. I have a lot of work on this Summer so I think it will be quite easy to get her fit again!
Last night I started to house train Mist's puppies. Some might say at just over 4 weeks it's a bit young. Taking them out as soon as they wake up and after feeding greatly reduces the amount of mess in the house. As there is someone here with them all the time, it is very easy to get their house training under way, and their new owners are always pleased at how easy it is to completely house train them. I was quite amazed this morning however because between 10pm and 6am there was only one mess and a couple of puddles. Very good! They are absolutely lovely puppies and so friendly and confident. They are completely weaned now although when I had Ffi and Neela out today they mobbed them and managed to get plenty of milk, any bitch will do!
I gave Spark a little training session tonight, she went pretty well and hasn't forgotten anything. She is completely on her sides now and has a reasonable stop. Her outrun is also coming on well. She has some special visitors coming to see her tomorrow, more about that later!
Today was pretty busy with various people coming to see the pups and Spark's special visitors - her paternal family came to visit. There are some photos of their visit here.
As I didn't choose Spark as a pup, rather got her as a rescue, I was very pleased to have a look at that side of her family and to try Jaff on sheep. As you can see from the photos Jaff did very well indeed and he would have been a good sheep dog had his career not gone a different way!
Today Mist's pups came for a trip in the van. They've been in the van before plenty of times but not without Mist in with them. Today they went on their own and there was not a peep out of them! They fell asleep straight away and slept the whole time until we got back and woke them up. They were all clean in the van too. Good puppies!
Ffi's puppies have moved into a pen now. I usually like to put a small plastic bed in so they clearly know where the bed stops and the newspaper begins. However some of the smaller ones were struggling to get out and in so they just have their vet bed just now. I had to move them out of the whelping box because Rosie and Snip were managing to escape.
Admittedly, I keep forgetting I am supposed to be keeping a blog. Oops. Well I've been really busy! Yesteday I was gathering then marking lambs, which means castrating, tailing and we also tagged and wormed them. The dogs had a hard job bringing them in as the lambs scatter everywhere trying to evade the dogs. I used Ffi, Mist and Chance for this job. I was really pleased with Chance in particular because he is a dog I have not been able to train in the normal method I train dogs. With him, I use him for jobs and he just guesses what I want. It's the first time I've had a dog I could do this with and I can only do it this way because he is an old fashioned type of dog with plenty of brains. Anyway, he was brilliant, it's the first time I've worked him on ewes with lambs. Some dogs will ignore lambs but he got stuck right in and did a really good job.
Today I went to help a neighbour bring in his ewes and lambs as he was dagging the ewes (removing dirty wool from their tail end to prevent flystrike - maggots) and worming the lambs. My neighbour wasn't going to be there hence he needed me with my dogs, but his family were there. I've always thought (because it's been said, lol!) that my neighbours think my dogs are just fancy trial dogs. Which is fair enough, they only see me training young dogs on 5 acres and they know I trial. Plus in case anyone hasn't noticed, my dogs are an odd colour. Anyway I was pleased to be asked but because of all that I was a bit nervous in case I couldn't get them in. But it was daft because Ffi and Mist work with much larger numbers all the time with no problems. Thankfully they went into the handling pens no bother. Then I got two escaped lambs with Mist from another field (which is no mean feat, lambs do no respect dogs). They shed off the lambs and let the ewes out, then I penned the ewes back in. At the last second a texel ewe broke out of the pen however Ffi had it covered and she met it head on and sent her back the way it came. She looked fab, I wish I'd had it on video!
Then I went to check my sheep that I am employed to shepherd (ie not contract work). I checked the first lot with Ghost and he went out about 800 yards to gather mad shetland ewes and lambs. I have to admit I usually would be lazy and use Ffi or Mist for those sheep. However after Ghost showed me he can run out a very long way at lambing time with no problems, I thought I'd better stretch him from now on!
The next stop I used Chance to round up the tups and "miscellaneous" hangers on, rigs and so on. As I mentioned I've never really been able to train him so I was really pleased today when I was able to get him going really well and even getting him to outrun for a reasonable distance. I think he has come to a point now where I will be able to train him so I am very pleased!
Now after a short break I am going out to train dogs!
The last couple of days have been really busy (nothing new there then!). Yesterday 80 ewes and their lambs were going from the May lambing to their new home in the North of England, so I had to get them into the shed for the haulier coming at 10. After that I had to get round my sheep I shepherd and also speak to the Shearer about getting them clipped. It looks like we will be clipping a hundred of them on Sunday weather permitting.
Today the remaining 180 ewes plus lambs went to the same place as yesterday. It was really hot this morning and hard on the dogs as the grass is now very long and the sheep don't move off them because of the heat, and because they don't see them coming! However we got them in with little trouble and I was again really happy with Chance. He is really getting the idea of all the jobs we do and is very useful. I won't be back at that farm until mid August when the lambs are spained and brought down from "The North".
Once they were safely on the lorry I went off to my own sheep.
One of the reserves has a mile or so track to get to it. It is possible to drive up even in a car as it's very solid ground, however I prefer to walk the dogs in.
It's a nice walk in but very hot as the whole track is a sun trap.
After I'd finished work I went to my parents for tea, lovely! Not only do I get a nice meal, I can use their ADSL to upload videos, hence the remainder of the Ffi pup videos are now online!
I am hoping to get new photos of the pups tomorrow, since it looks like Sunday will be really busy - again!
Oops, have just realised despite writing in this I'd forgotten to upload it since the 24th of May. Oh dear!!
Spent a while this morning taking photos of Ffi and Mist's pups. They are difficult to photograph as they continually mug me for attention!
Today we set off for work early as it was a scorcher. I didn't hear from the shearer so we had assume he wasn't coming today. Fingers crossed he gets back to me soon. Shearers are difficult to get to commit and it's a fine line between enough nagging to get him to come and too much so he'll go else where! I know what it's like as I contract myself, their busy time is completely manic, so for now I'll just keep my fingers crossed!!
I took Ffi's pups to Tesco last night and they made a real racket the whole way there, had a rest while I was in the shop, then shrieked their heads off the whole way home. I decided I'd better get them in the van a lot more! So this morning I loaded them, Ffi, Ghost, Mist and Chance into the van. They weren't best pleased but much improved on last night. I think they resent being confined more than anything!
After work I went to my parents who happen to have about half an acre of beautifully manicured lawn. The pups always love it because they can run fast and play on it, unlike in my fields where at this time of year the grass is getting too long for little pups. There are some new photos of them running around on their page.
When I got back all of Neela's pups had escaped from the whelping box so I moved them into a pen. They haven't quite got the hang of getting to the right end, and I took some videos of them working it out. They have been slow to get eating, I think because Neela has been doing them so well. However their adventures scaling the whelping box must have made them hungry - well it is about 6 inches at the lowest point! as they scoffed their tea.
As usual the videos will take a while for me to upload so please be patient!
Tomorrow Mist's pups are going to the vet for their first vaccination. They've been in the van quite a lot and are very good, actually they were good from the first time, unlike some!
Mist's pups start leaving for their new homes on Wednesday!
I got my reciept back from the ISDS to say they received my National entry for Ffi and Mist. I also entered 4 trials over the weekend (in Scotland we mainly enter in advance) so the summer is filling up with trials. I booked my accomodation for the National too. I am looking vaguely organised, always a first!
Mist's pups got vaccinated yesterday with no problems. They were a massive hit in the vets and behaved perfectly. I left Mist's pups in my parents slabbed dog garden while I chatted to my Dad, and was amazed to catch Mist playing with TOYS with her puppies when I looked out the window. Mist has never in her life showed any interest in toys, even when she was a puppy herself so it was very cute! As soon as I went outside she resumed being a serious sheepdog, so no worries there! Her first puppy leaves home tomorrow and then another two on Friday. I think she will miss playing with them a bit but we will have plenty of work on over the Summer to take her mind off it!
Mist's little lilac daughter is off to her new home in the South. She hasn't got a name yet. She is going to do agility.
Today I went round my sheep as usual and gave Chance and a bitch I have in for training for a friend, Lucy, a good training session. I am working on extending Chance's outrun. Lucy is going very well. She is outrunning about 300 yards no problem and I am getting her into her sides and driving now. She is also calling off most of the time.
I also took Enzo along for the ride as some friends who live over that way are interested in him. He was perfectly well behaved acting far more sensibly than I'd expect of a dog of only 8 months. Even if these people don't take him, he will make someone a fantastic and loyal companion, he is a great character and has an excellent temperament.
Check out my cool bit of HTML code which allows you to click the link at the top and come straight to the newest installment, ha ha! Yes I am easily amused!
I am off today so have spent the whole day tidying, cleaning and handling pups. Well basically the same as every other day except I didn't have to go to work too!
Neela's pups are really developing now and starting to explore. Little lilac merle bitch managed to cross the whole of the living room to come and sit at my feet. Is she trying to tell me something - maybe!lol
I am thinking of having another training day towards the end of the month. Email me if you are interested in bringing your dog.
Also a question. Was anyone at the Tabley Game Fair in Cheshire who watched the flyball?
National Entries are back! I am please to have got in with both Ffion and Mist. I am running Mist first 9th on day one, and Ffion is my second to run dog, 73rd which will be about the middle of the second day. Also, just as exciting if not more exciting (!), the first ever Corrie Dhu to run in a National is Ffion's son CorrieDhu Spot, owned by Angus Jardine. They are running 17th on the first day. C. Spot is a son of Bobby Dalziel's Scottish National Champion Spot.
Today has been spent cleaning and tidying! Unfortunately nothing seems much cleaner or tidier than when I started but never mind! All of Mist's puppies have gone to their new homes now except for the brown merle bitch. To save her from being lonely I put her in beside Ffion's puppies. She is a very kind and gentle puppy and was not bullying anyone, even Nia who is about a third of her size! Nia seemed to team up with her so maybe she recognised another merle ;-) I decided tonight that I would put Nia in beside Neela's puppies since she is about the same size as them. Actually when I put her in with them she is smaller than them! A real little dinky. She has been showing them how to kill the draught excluder BC and how to chew the laptop cables!
Some of Ffi's pups are going to the vet to be vaccinated tomorrow. Nia and Rosie will come along for the trip as we are visiting Rosie's namesake as well.
It's interesting to watch the difference between the motor skills of Nia and the other pups. Despite being the same size she is clearly more developed than them (she is about 2 weeks older), faster to follow me, find where a sound comes from and generally getting around. She was the slowest of her litter, although I would say she has almost caught up with them in terms of motor skills.
Currently Neela's pups are wrecking the living room, encouraged a lot by Nia, this was possible not such a good idea!
Tomorrow night I am going to bring in ewes and lambs which have beaten (they have got them to the pens but the ewes and lambs have broken back and evaded the dogs) several dogs at a neigbouring farm. The pressure will be on to get them in and I hope Ffi, Mist and Chance (and maybe Ghost and Spark!) will be up to the challenge. More on that later.
Madly busy as usual.
Some photos of the pups below since they were all in the house playing together. Due to time wasters, Mist's brown merle bitch is available to the right home. She has a lovely laid back temperament, very friendly and looks like she will have pricked ears. Please do not email me if you are a window shopper!!
Brown merle bitch (Quillan x Mist) .................... Dark face
Snip and Nia with Ratty!
Slate merle bitch and brown merle bitch.
Lilac merle bitch
Wee Lad with the Sheep!
Dark face and Cesan
I have had mad week. Yesterday we were clipping sheep at Trapain Law in East Lothian. I had never been to this site before and it was described to me as a lump of rock in the middle of a field. I was not at all prepared to the ENORMOUS lump of rock ie hill it was! If I'd had any idea we would have had them gathered the day before so the day was a disaster from the start.
The first problem was the shearers car and trailer got stuck on the road in, it was too steep. He couldn't got forwards and it jack knifed so he couldn't go back either. After a bit of thought, one of the volunteers took me to a local garage where we begged the loan of a tow rope. Very luckily the pick up was already in front of the shearer otherwise, we'd have been really stuck!
Having got the Shearer and the volunteers into the reserve, I went with the reserve manager, his (pet) collie and Ffi, Mist and Chance to gather the hill.
I was thinking it was a good thing we'd driven a third of the way up, but of course the way they thought was best to gather it (which turned out to be the worst way but never mind) entailed us walking back down to the bottom and walking back up the other side. Above Chance is leading the way past the Quarry Bowl.
Looking down into the Quarry Bowl. Ffi is somewhere in this photo pushing about 40 Shetlands along the foot of the crag. However I cannot see her or them!
Making our way up.
Making out way along the side to try and cover what we can see above us and below.
Looking over East Lothian.
Finally some sheep, these Shetlands were standing on the skyline watching us and planning their escape! I sent Ffi to push these round to the other side and was panicking when she didn't come back when I called her. I was imagining all sorts of scenarios involving her falling off a cliff, however what actually happened was she found the rest of the Shetland sheep which had been out of sight. She pushed them in the right direction and was back at my foot still raring to go.
Then we came across the Hebrideans who always keep themselves away from the "common" Shetlands. I sent Ffi again to push these into the rest of the gather. So far things were going really well!
Then, things took a sharp turn for the worse!
The Shetlands decided to make their escape along the steep face on the other side of the hill. In this photo you can just see the Hebs teetering on the edge of the cliff, the Shetlands were further along in a less accessible position! Literally stuck between a rock and a very dangerous situation for all of us. I couldn't send a dog to push them along for fear of the dog falling, or the sheep panicking and trying to mountain goat their way down. So brave Duncan the Reserve Manager did a bit of rock climbing and managed to push them back onto safer climbs.
Looking West. (Yes that is my finger, took these photos with my phone since I forgot my camera!)
Proving we did reach the Summit (twice!).
The rock climbing was bad enough, however worse was to come. By the time we got them to the lower slopes the dogs were exhausted (did I mention the heat!) and the sheep intent on evading us at every turn. The grass on the lower slopes is very long which makes it harder for the dogs as they can't see the sheep and the sheep can't see them. Plus it uses more energy to move through it. Thankfully by this time the Shearer appeared to help with his dog who I thought was getting on in years but I was surprised to learn is 13 years old. With his help we got to the pens, and then I got Ghost out and we got the sheep into the pens.
Clipping under way at last! The bags are called wool bags and are on a frame to enable the rolled up fleeces to be packed into them as efficiently as possible. The Wool Board where all our fleeces end up, will dock an already meager wool cheque for badly clipped/packed or dirty fleeces.
Sheep in the pens with Falla (the pet) looking on. I think she finally realised what life was about but sadly at ten is too old to train!
First pen are out and going as fast as they can back up the hill.
You can just see a tiny black dot which is a Heb on the skyline here waiting for her pals to catch up.
We finally finished clipping at 6:30pm. A very long day as I'd left home at 6am and had a two hour + drive home!
Over the last few days I've become more and more fond of Ffi's pup Darkface and I've now decided to keep her instead of Rosie as she is more like Ffion. I think she will be called Ruth. I took some new photos of Neela's pups tonight, the first time we've had decent weather. The photos aren't great so I will have to try again!
Today I took Wee Lad - who is now called Jock after my late Granfather whose birthday they share - to his new home with Angus who already has his half brother Corrie Dhu Spot.
Hopefully Louanne my friend in Canada who has Isla, Spot's sister, will also be having one of these puppies. However he needs a lift once the heat embargo has been removed, so if anyone coming from Canada to the World Trial fancies a few days staying here in return for taking the pup back as excess baggage (the pup's passage will be paid for of course) please email me.
I've spent the evening playing with puppies (a hard job but someone has to do it!) and setting up for the training day on Saturday.
We were supposed to be clipping today, or tomorrow. Unfortunately the weather is awful, pouring with rain. Sheep must be completely dry to be clipped and since we do not have the space to house them, clipping is off. We've been lucky with the weather and I'd forgotten what rain was like. I hope it's going to dry up again!
I've got a couple of chaps coming over this afternoon to quote to lay concrete for my lovely new kennels and also dig out a bit of banking against my cottage which is causing a damp problem. Depending on how much that costs, I may also be getting the remainder of the shed concreted. It's 48x12 feet and half is already concreted as the main kennels are in there. Getting the rest done would be very handy.
This is similar to the kennel I am getting, except on my kennel the panels are mesh and solid on the sides rather than open bars. I have to say this is the swankiest (is that a word) thing I've ever bought and I may be too precious about them to actually put a dog in them!
I also just got this cute little kennel for the pups. I didn't expect it to be chewed ALREADY! And I know Try (in the pic) was the main culprit!
I had a day off today. Didn't do much except a mountain of house work, lunch with friends, tea with parents, playing/cleaning out pups and training dogs! I am most pleased with Lucy (bitch in for training). I used her to hold the training sheep while I drafted out the older ewes and a big fat ignorant pet texel thing which I don't want crashing into any of my students (or me!) at the training day. We will be using 4 texel x hoggs which are well dogged but not over dogged. They are really fit so will find the training day a dawdle. I use Mist to hold the sheep steady so they don't get to tired and it gives the young dogs the best chance. This time 4 beardies are coming. 3 I've seen before, 1 new one I haven't seen, and a Border Collie I haven't seen.
Last night I went to the Dr about my horrible hayfever. I've tried every drug on the market and nothing makes much difference. However I heard on radio 2 (Dr Hillary Jones!) talking about cortisone injections. Now despite the fact I can inject sheep, dogs and so on, lamb ewes, skin dead lambs and do all manner of other things which may repulse some people, I have to admit to being completely phobic about injections into me or other humans, and Drs in general! Anyway, I was so ill with it I decided I would brave an injection in the hope it might cure me. However when I got to the Dr he wouldn't give me an injection and instead gave me a course of ten prednisalone tablets which hopefully will cure me for the remainder of the hayfever season. I've taken two so far and I'd say my symptoms are 90% cured. I can live with that! Would strongly recommend anyone else suffering to ask the Doctor. I've been every year as long as I can remember and never been offered this.
Today my friend Norma and her husband Jimmy are coming to stay for the weekend. Norma has a daughter of Mist, from her first litter - Beth.
Norma has pretty much trained Beth by herself and has done a good job with her. Norma and Jimmy are coming to help at the training day.
This morning I've been to tesco to stock up on tea and coffee and various other bits a pieces. I took Cesan and Opal with me for a little jaunt. They were pretty good for their first trip!
I've changed my mind about Darkface's name. I just can't decide what to call her! I'd like to call her Evie but I think it's a bit similar to Nia. Hmm!
Norma's granddaughter is also staying this weekend. Here she is giving Chance dancing lessons!
Needing more hands.
"I'm not sure I like this!"
Millie on the move.
Having a rest!
Click here to see the training day.
Everyone wants to take Nia home!
It seems like Remy has a death wish. No matter how many times the bitches tell him they do not love him, he never takes the hint, he just can't believe they aren't madly in love with him. Could it be because he is French??
Today my sheep are getting clipped. Thankfully although the weather is not good, I have plenty of space in the shed to get them inside, so Norma and Beth brought them in last night when they were dry.
I can clip both hand and machine, however I am a) very slow and b) very lazy so I am getting them done professionally ;-).
We are hoping to clip another lot of my work sheep on Friday. The weather has been a bit changeable recently which is disappointing but not unexpected!
Apart from that I am just trying to get Ffi and Mist fit for the National.