July 08

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

June 08

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1st July

I cannot believe it's July already! Got my sheep clipped last night and they seem to be quite happy to have shed their fleeces. One ewe was a bit "sticky" which can be a fault of old Blackies. It means there is no "rise" in the fleece. The rise is the process of the old wool breaking off and the new wool coming through. This makes a sort of thready gap between the old fleece and the skin/new fleece to enable sheep to be sheared. When the ewe has little or no rise it makes them very hard to clip without cutting them but the shearer managed to get her fleece off. She is a bit patchy looking however!

Today one of Quillan's daughters from his first litter is coming to have lessons on the sheep. She has not been to sheep before. Her owner is staying all week so hopefully I'll get some photos of her in action.

Last night was Evie's turn to spend it in the house on her own. I have each puppy in on it's own every day, and one stays in all night and some come to work with me too. She was pretty good and didn't make too much noise! She is a sweet little pup and I am pleased I decided to keep her.

Cesan went to his new home with the Sooshine's yesterday and seems to have settled in well. He was quiet and clean for the 8.5 hour trip back!

Donna has taken Try for a few weeks to socialise him and get him used to walking on a lead etc.

I think we are clipping on Friday, weather permitting, and picking up the new kennels at the weekend, hooray!

Had a productive day with Wispa (Quillan x Cailleag). She started off a bit unsure if she was allowed to chase the sheep, then she was reluctant to head them, prefering to stay behind them. However by the second session she was going round but only one way. Third session she was going better one way and went the other way a few times too.

Tomorrow one of the Border Collies from the training day is coming for another lesson too.

Tonight I've got Opal in the house. She is pretty chilled out and apart from constantly chewing my dodgy modem cable, she is very well behaved!

2nd July

We had a lot of rain last night, it was very thundery weather although I didn't hear any thunder. Thankfully it seems to have cleared the air and it is lovely this morning.

Wispa was back today along with Jo (from the training day). Both bitches are coming on well and showing a big improvement each time they are out. Wispa is looking more sensible on her preferred side, and more keen to head them than she was, and she is taking the side she dislikes more often than she was. Jo is mostly in the correct place on the right, on the left she can be inclined to grip but this is lessening. She is walking on nicely and stopping.

Mop is making good progress and is now balancing well, walking on nicely and keeping the right distance just about all of the time. I have started to put her on her sides. She doesn't stop on command yet but naturally stops herself on her feet, so I am intending to put a stop command onto that.

I had a bit of a fight with Lucy yesterday. I took her to check some sheep in a field at work. Instead of lifting the sheep off the fence she followed them along the fence and ended up with them on the top of a large hillock which is covered in weeds. She couldn't understand why if she went rounf the back of it she couldn't find the sheep! She didn't want to come back to me because she was so keen to get the sheep (she wants to please) and wore herself out trying to work out this problem. Eventually she decided it was time to come back to me, and I sent her from my foot up the face of the little hill. She got the sheep fine then! So because the problem started with her not knowing how to lift them off the fence I worked on that for a while. She is a gutsy little bitch and despite being tired and it being really hot, she worked very well. I am pleased with her progress.

Chance is also coming along well and his outrun is increasing in distance slowly but surely.

3rd July

Another day of training. Wispa is going really well. Her owner is now taking her by herself and I took these pics today -

Wispa came back tonight for a last session, and I was extremely pleased with her. We had her going both ways and looking a lot more sure what she was doing!

This is Jo the other bitch -

Later on I went to check my sheep and did some fittening work with Ffi and Mist. Well, to be honest just gathering these 100 Shetland and cross ewes plus their lambs is enough to make any dog keel over! I gathered them mainly with Ffi them used Mist to help knock them together as they are always trying to evade the dog. Then I tried Lucy on them and she did pretty well. At first she was inclined to ignore the small lambs however after a few pointers from Ffi and Mist, she started to kep them too. By the end of it all three dogs were exhausted. I will be gathering these ewes for clipping next week so the more I round them up before the gather, the easier life will be!

Ffi is somewhere gathering the sheep which are just under the trees.


Mist patiently waiting her turn, well, quite patiently!

Sheep coming into view.

Ffi back and exhausted

Mist bringing them on.


Some good looking texel cross lambs with their Cheviot x Shetland ewes.

Mist kepping a lamb.

Ffi taking one side and Mist and I at the back.

4th July

This morning we got another 50 sheep clipped. I gathered them and my collegue's own sheep who were also getting clipped first thing then went to check the rest of the sheep. Tonight we went to pick up the trailer for picking up my new kennels tomorrow (hooray). Then Shep came to visit. Shep is Spark's son by Mole.

Shep is growing up into a very handsome lad with a lovely kind temperament and good manners. He looks more like his mother than his father.

5th July

Kennels are here and in one piece, well several pieces but no damage so far!

Kennels with the doors off.

Fronts off and the felt coming off. Unfortunately we didn't realise til too late that the roof should have come off before the fronts however, we got it off without damage or injury!

6 hours later loaded and ready to go. All in all it took 7 hours to get them home and unloaded!

7th July

Bree (was Milly) and Cloud (was Opal!) went to their new home today. They will be sheep dogs when they grow up.

Today was rather frustrating as I was on the trail of some elusive escaped Shetlands. A ewe and her two lambs. I thought I was on to a winner as I got a phone call from my collegue when I reached the reserve to say he'd just had a call from the owner of the garden they've been snacking on (oops) to say they were in the garden RIGHT NOW. However, despite getting there less than 2 minutes after the person had phoned my collegue, the sheep were not there. Neither was the person supposedly witnessing them in the garden at that moment! Considering I'd come up the only entrance way, which is very long and single tracked, I can't see how it was possible the sheep were witnessed in the garden at that moment. Hmmm! I looked around for an hour but found no sign of the escapees.

After that I had an appointment at the vets. I was rather taken aback by the number of grossly overweight dogs in the waiting room. One Sheltie weighed in at nearly 18KGs and was like the side of a house. That's heavier than most of my collies! Another Malamute was so fat when it lay down it needed it's two owners to lift it back on it's feet. I don't know how people can allow their pets to get into that state. I realised after a while the vets have a weight watchers clinic. Hmmm!

Tonight Jo came for a lesson and showed some improvement. She can be a little sulky when not allowed to grip on the left and now prefers to go right only. We will work with her in a small pen next time to discourage her from gripping and sulking! Like people, most dogs are one sided and will prefer to go in one direction. Some dogs are so one sided they feel like they cannot actually go the other way, so need to be eased into it gently.

Allowing dogs to herd other dogs, cats, or livestock through a fence, can cause dogs to be one sided, fail to want to head the stock or develop repetitive behaviours which cause problems when you actually want to train the dog on stock. I would never allow young dogs to herd each other or the cats or watch stock through the fence, as it's a difficult behaviour to stop once it starts.

I gave Mop and Spark a good training session tonight. Spark's outrun is improving and her general attitude is more serious and set for the job. Mop is going very well indeed. She is now balancing the sheep nicely and walking on nicely. I am starting to put her on her sides (away and come bye). She has always called off obediently and walks away from the sheep happily. I don't think it will take long for her to be pretty much trained.

Once I'd trained all the dogs I sat with the puppies for a while and pondered on how lucky I am to live here! There was a stag grazing in the field below my house, the dogs were having fun playing, and the puppies were very pleased to have someone to jump all over.

8th July

Busy day again today, this morning I went and gathered one of our reserves as we are clipping the sheep there tomorrow.

Somewhere there are some sheep...

Ffi in the undergrowth looking for sheep.

Waiting to see what Ffi finds. She never comes back without the sheep!

And she is sucessful again.

Ffi and Mist bringing them up to the pen.

A mottley crew of wedders (castrated male sheep which we will eat eventually!).

Heading for the pen. I am standing at the gate to stop them going back the way they came. Mist is at the back pushing them forward and Ffi is at the open side preventing any breaking away.

Nearly in.

No chance to turn back now.

Gate shut and we are off to the next reserve.

These photos of us at work are taken on my phone camera. The quality isn't brilliant however I cannot carry a camera with me all the time, so it's a good compromise I think. The other nice thing is I don't have to resize them as they are a good size for up loading!

The next training day at Corrie Dhu will be held on Saturday the 19th of July. Email me to book a place.

Finally got a quote from an almost affordable (!) builder to do the concreting for my new kennels. They should be starting work on the 21st, so fingers crossed they do!

Have had a good night tonight. Put my caravan on ebay and it sold in two hours for more than I paid for it. Considering I lived in it for two months at lambing time, I don't feel it owes me anything!! In celebration I bought some kennel panels from ebay which will finish off the barn.

9th July

Today I did something I've been meaning to do for over a month! I took Mop to work with me to try her on the tup flock. The tups are good for young dogs as they are reasonably steady. However they aren't so great for my legs, especially the Hebridean tups!

Probably, the cutest Bearded Collie, in the world ;-)

And classy too!

I was pleased with how Mop went. She's never been on more than a handful of sheep before and never away from home. She went as well as she usually does and was fairly obedient. She wanted to meet the tups head on a few times which is not a good idea but at least shows she is brave!

Once we'd finished there I went to check another site. Here we crept right up to these two dozy lambs, good job Mist's not a fox!

Ffi has gathered most of the flock, but then some came out of the forestry at the top of the field. The next photos show her turning back for them.

"Look back"

On her way back on the left.

Got them, and a few others! Being able to turn a dog back and pull it in a push it back out, is a very important skill especially for a hill dog. It's also necessary for trialing, especially at the International where there is a double gather in the Supreme. Ffi is now fairly flexible and she has learnt from experience that sheep will be where I direct her.

Ffi and Mist taking a side each.

I think Ffi and Mist's fitness is improving at a good rate for them to be in tip top condition for the National in the middle of August.

I also had a good session with Lucy today (I have her out every day but I don't always say anything about it). She now runs out about 400 yards no problem. I am now getting her to do inside flanks and drive the sheep while I walk parallel to her. I also started teaching her to come in on some of the sheep, rather than casting out round any she sees. This is the first stage of shedding. I am also tightening up other areas of her training and insisting she takes the correct flank every time. I am really pleased with how she is coming on.

After tea I will have Spark out too.

10th July

Fairly productive day today despite horrendous rain all day. My poor sheep were looking miserable and cold as were the heifers, very unusual for sheep to feel the cold really but just unlucky to have a bad day so close to them being clipped. Thankfully it's eased off a bit now.

My hardcore arrived so that was good, and I went to pick up my ebay kennel panels. They are canine kennel ones and a very good bargain as they haven't even been used.

Slightly annoying was a window shopper who came to look at dogs. I have many better things to do with my time than stand around in the pouring rain!

Haven't trained any dogs today because of the weather. It's not good for the sheep to be heated up in this weather so I've left well alone.

14th July

Unfotunately the magic steriods from the Dr have worn off and my hayfever is back with avengence. I got another course of ten tablets but he won't prescribe any more after these. Hmm. It's ten days since I finished the last course. I can't decide whether to suffer for a bit longer so I can be symptom free at the National (Mid Aug), or just take them now and hope my symptoms have gone by themselves by then anyway!

Had a busy weekend doing things to the house. I spend all my spare time on the dog's accomodation so it's a rare event the house gets any attention! Got a lovely bench to sit out on (possible sign of aging??) and a memory foam mattress (sure sign of aging??). I've fancied a memory mattress but always thought they were very very expensive. They have come down in price and we decided to get one. Oh my it was worth it. Would never go back to a conventional mattress now! The bench saga is another story "someone", not me, decided to be in charge of building it, and ignored my question of "are you sure those bits are the right way round". Once we got to putting the roof part on it became clear that no, they weren't on the right way. So we started to take it apart and start again. Then of course the screws wouldn't come out! Hours later it's half built, enough to sit on and type my blog today anyway! In "someone's" defence, when Rosie's new owners came to pick her up, they admired the bench too, and when I said we were just about to take it apart because the sides are on the wrong way round "Mr Rosie" said no no, that's the right way, so it must be a man thing. If in doubt refer to the instructions, ha ha. I will put a pic of the bench up when (if) it's finished!

Also put some netting up to stop swallows getting into the kennels and nesting there. While I love swallows it's no use having them nesting in the kennels as they make such a mess. Plus the cats can easily get them. There have been several broods reared there this year so once the last ones flew the nest I shut them out before they could start again. There are plenty of other better nesting spots so I hope they move there.

I had to go and pick up a load of dog food today and on the way home went to give Ffi and Mist a work out. I also took Evie with me. She hasn't been in the van an awful lot but she was really good.

Ooh what's that!?

Come on then!

Keeping up.

Evie following her Mum to work!

No bed is as comfortable as this rucksack, apparently!

Another comfy bed. Dotty the cat.

15th July

Today I went to see Bond and Husky. Here is Bond working with his Granny Ffi.

Not great pics, but it was quite difficult to get them both in shot at once!

Handsome Husky

Looking like his Dad Ghost.

18th July

Yesterday I delivered Enzo to his lovely new home. He has gone to live with a family with two girls around 10 and 11 years of age. He is ideal for them and I think they are ideal for him.

We were supposed to be clipping but the weather put paid to that! We're hoping to get the last lot done next week.

We ended up at Trapain again the other day (with the emphasis on PAIN!), looking for a lame ewe. The grass is even longer now, and apart from the summit where it's short enough to walk on, the whole place is a jungle. It has been under grazed for several years and it will take a long time to get it back into a good state. Sadly, if the Government and the supermarkets keep putting the squeeze on farming, then all the hills in the UK will end up like this and will be impassable. I took Remy along for the trip, and as usual there was a tale to tell! He seemed to enjoy prancing around on the hill and through the long grass.

Looking at Trapain from the approach road.

The mountain goat posing for a picture. Don't worry, he's wearing his safety harness (lead!).

Look at me Remy - "Non. Merci!"

Look at me Remy! - "NON!"

"Ah ok, if I must!"

Ffi looking beautiful if a little bald!

I had some excellent news in the last couple of weeks. Where I live is too remote for boadband/adsl. The Scottish Executive have made grant money available to an internet company who are setting up broadband access via satellite for people like me who can't get it through the landline. I applied for it not expecting it to happen for months if not years! However I've had a phone call and they say it will be installed by the end of the month - hooray!

19th July

Today I took Zoey out to the sheep. She has not been interested in the slightest and I was starting to wonder if she ever would be. However she shows it's worth waiting as she is certainly keen now! I will keep introducing her to the sheep with no pressure until I am sure she can take the training.

20th July

Trying something else for hayfever. Click here to read about it. It only cost 14.99 which is a bargain if it works. It's a bit of an unpleasent feeling to begin with but I think it does help a bit.

22nd July

Last night Jo came to "Boarding School". I will be training her several times a day to get her moved on a bit for her owner. She is a lovely bitch and very well behaved so no trouble. On sheep is a different story and she is very hard work indeed!

Lucy is also coming on really well and just takes everything I throw at her. I don't think it will be long until she is at trial standard as well as being a useful work dog.

Remy will be having a bath and brush up because this weekend he has some special visitors! The owners of his sister, Meg, are coming to visit him, and me too I think ;-) Meg and he sound very alike indeed!

23rd July

Concreting is done. Now I just have to make sure Dotty and Gem (cats) don't put their special mark on it!! I caught Dotty this morning and shut her in the house and she is the one more likely to do some pawtographing. Gem not liking the noise of the lorry etc has not been seen all day. She will be hanging around somewhere close so I hope she doesn't do some graffiti when I'm not looking!

This morning I gathered the last lot of sheep for clipping.

Ffi and Mist keeping them well knocked together to prevent escapees.

Mist kepping

Once I'd driven up to a vantage point above the field and found a few hiding, I came back down to check and there was another ewe and a pair coming out of the woods. I sent Mist for her but the ewe took off at a rate of knotts. I was starting to think never to be seen again, however trusty Mist got to the head of them and brought them back.

Typically she didn't want to come back as fast as she had gone, but Mist persuaded her there was only one way to go!

24th July

Concrete managed to set before Gem put in an appearance!

And it was a good job because as soon as she did she spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on it and rolling around on it!! There was too much concrete so the builders dumped some on a bit they were meant to landscape but were unable to as their digger wasn't up to it. This meant us shuttering it as it was poured (!) which is not ideal. The edges are a bit rough so I spent the afternoon lugging stones around to put round the edge. Gem and Dotty looked on helpfully!

Last night I put the lining back on the walls of the shed and errected the new kennel panels. Really happy with it. Don't want to put a dog in it tho!!

Hopefully we will build the new kennels on Saturday.

Below is what happens to naughty Pyrenean sheep dogs who won't take no for an answer!

25th July

Great excitement, the broadband man is here! Unfortunately he has already tripped over my laptop cable and yanked the laptop onto the stone floor. Thankfully it survived the trip! He is now crashing around in the loft, I am hoping he isn't going to come through the ceiling!

He told me my neighbour is also getting it installed. Sadly it means we both have to have ugly white satellite on the sides of our beautiful cottages but I think the broadband will make up for it! Apparently we are the 11th people in Scotland to have it installed through the grant. Lucky!

Try went to his new home this evening. He now has a friend called Hamish and they are intending to start up a home improvements business!

Faolan (Ghost x Neela) lilac boy went to his new home this morning.

So now there are just two puppies left, life will seem very quiet! I am glad I can concentrate solely on Evie and Nia now however!

28th July

Complete nightmare of a day today. Did I say I liked Shetland sheep? I take it all back!

In our wisdom when we struggled so much to get sheep gathered at Trapain, we decided as we needed 40 off there we'd take the worst behaved of the lot, which were the Shetlands. Completely supidly neither of us thought to take into account that the site we then put them onto is a tricky one to get sheep off too. So we effectively hand picked our most difficult sheep!! Today I went to take these sheep off the other reserve and it became clear this was a big mistake! On the open part of the bog, there was no problem, the sheep were very docile and infact the dogs had to really push them to get them moving. However as soon as their pretty little feet touched the edge of the 200ft shoulder height bracken covered boundary we have to pass through to get to the trailer, they were off! The endearing thing about Shetlands has to be the ability of ten sheep to go eleven ways!!

No problems with behaviour here!

Now you see us...

Now you don't!!!

Round One - Shetlands 1 Us 0

After a little break we had another go, and got half of them in.

By this time it was 26 degrees C and Ffi and Mist were exhausted. The ground is extremely difficult for them as it's rough heather, and the sheep disappear into the long bracken with ease.

At this point I started to think we were beat. Not something that has happened before!! I decided to try Lucy despite the fact she has never been on terrain like this, and isn't properly on her sides.

She did brilliantly and we got them to the "mouth" of the bracken track with no problems.

Sadly they then evaded us at the bracken again. However considering how inexperienced she is, I was over the moon with her performance!

All three girls were all half dead by this point (and the sheep were still in fine form!) so I got Ghost out. Through sheer speed, determination, his size advantage and crashing around the bracken, we managed to get them down to the trailer. Very annoyingly some then went through the electric fence at the last minute and took off to another part of the reserve (essentially they haven't escaped but they have got out of the bit they are supposed to be on). At this point we had to call it a day since I'd run out of dogs and it was getting hotter and hotter. Some day soon I'll have to return for the remaining 13 (unlucky for some!) - mutton chops anyone?

When I got home I started to do a new bit of fencing now known as the Tammy proof fence. While Tammy never jumps even a tiny barrier, her free range life style prior to me owning her taught her to get under or through absolutely anything. She never runs away but on occasion would like to take my neighbour's beef heifers in for milking, which of course is no good at all! I am hoping this new piece of fencing will finally mean I don't have to watch her every second she is loose!!

29th July

Happy Birthday Ffion, eight today!

Weather has been horrible today, fog and rain.

Ffi having a birthday training session.

31 July

Last day in July and the count down is on for the National Trials. Tomorrow sees the start of the English National.

I am now really pushing Ffi and Mist's fitness training to the max. They are doing a couple of hours of hard work every day and running about 2 miles behind the vehicle at 10mph. I have one good sized field where it's possible to do an 1000+ yard outrun (the National will be 800yards). While they know this field like the back of their hands (paws!) and are naturally very good outrunners, sending them this distance several times on either hand during the hot weather we've been having is a good test of their fitness. This field is extremely rough so harder work than the very flat National field will be and the sheep are fairly heavy so those two things combined make me think they should be fit enough to run at their best.

This ewe is a Foula type Shetland, her mother and father were both born on Foula although she was born in Aberdeenshire. She is very wild and behaves terribly most of the time. I bought her as a lamb and trained a lot of dogs on her and her compadres, however, she is still horrible! Before lambing time I was out checking our sheep when I spotted her about a mile away from the reseve grazing happily on someone else's SSSI hill (well she is a conservation expert!). When I saw her I was tempted to shut my eyes and keep on driving because I could predict what would happen. But of course I had to catch her. Luckily she was completely on her own so I sent Ffi to gently bring her down the hill. Ha ha. She took one look at Ffi and attacked her. At this stage it did cross my mind she wasn't one of ours because I couldn't believe she would do that, however I then thought no other person would own such a stupid looking sheep... So I sent back up (Mist) to help and both dogs persuaded her she had no option but to come down the hill. I then hopped over the two barbed wire fences, crossed a drainage ditch (no wellies!) and with the help of the dogs captured her. She was heavily in lamb which helped our cause. Once I'd got a hold of her I contemplated how I'd get her across to the van. I tied her up with the marvellous sheep loop restraint (aka a piece of baler string). I then decided instead of trying to carry her to the van, I'd reverse the van back along the road a bit to make it easier. All of this was putting off the inevitable "how the hell can I get her across the ditch without getting wet feet". Eventually I managed to heave her across the ditch and over the two fences and into the back of the van. Then I had to heave Mist and Ffi (both pregnant!) over the fence. I am sure passing motorists thought the sheep was dead.

Anyway she was none the worse for her adventure and went on to produce these two ugly lambs. I have no real idea who the father(s) is(are!). It's not one of our tups. One of them looks like a texel and the other a blackie texel cross so who knows!

Due to her ability to annoy even the most patient sheep dog and generally behave erratically in the manner of a ewe who has never seen a pink dog (or any dog!), I used her to do some training with Ffi and Mist. Mist has limited tolerance for bad sheep and of course this is no use at a sheep dog trial so I reminded her about patience being a virtue and so on!

I had Remy and Zoey on the sheep tonight. Remy is interested but still has a tail which sticks up in the air. In France they are customarily docked and cropped so I don't know what their tails should be like on sheep, but I have a feeling not like that. I have threatened him with having it chopped off but of course he doesn't listen.

Zoey is very interested and keen now. In fact I hadn't shut the gate properly thinking she wouldn't bother when I let her out and of course she went straight into the field. Thankfully she came back when I called her and we were able to make a controlled entrance. Her preference is to wear the sheep away from me rather than bring them, but I couple of times I made her go round them. She isn't ready to take much pressure yet.

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