At Dean Farm today, Bronwen worked supremely well
Knowing she can be somewhat "trigger happy" when it comes disciplining an errant sheep, I really didn't expect Bronwen to be a serious contender for being our best herding sheepdog ever, but her recent performances have been superb.
She still needs watching in a stressful situation, but Bronwen really excelled at Dean Farm this morning. Normally I take both Bronwen and Kay with me, because Kay's outrun is excellent while Bronwen has the power to move stubborn ewes and lambs. Recently though, Kay's age seems to be catching up with her. I suspect her hearing's not as good as it was, and despite her initial excitement when she realises she's going to work sheep, she doesn't have the stamina she once had.
Today in the pouring rain, I decided to take Bronwen with me and leave Kay at home. My only worry was that Bronwen had never worked alongside a vehicle before. When you're inside a vehicle, shouting commands to a dog, some dogs will take advantage and ignore the commands. Knowing how headstrong Bronwen can be, I half expected her to do this, but it was worth a try.
My doubts were completely unfounded. Bronwen worked outside the 4x4 as though she'd been doing it all her life. In fact, she worked so efficiently that we had the flock down at the farm buildings before John was quite ready for them. There was nowhere for them to go, so most of the sheep carried on into a small paddock, while the rest made a dash back up the drive towards the field.
Picture a farm drive completely filled with about a hundred sheep running at top speed back towards their field. A good dog will (somehow) scrabble past the sheep, get ahead of them, and turn them back.
Carew would do it, but Kay never would. It takes a lot of determination, and a lot of courage to do it.
I didn't even have to send Bronwen. She saw the sheep running away, and took it upon herself to bring them back. I watched in awe as she scrabbled past them dashed out into the middle of the drive ahead of them, and calmly brought them back.
By this time, the gate into the handling yard was open, and the whole flock went in. From there, it was a straight forward job of running the ewes and lambs through the sorting race, loading the lambs for market, and then taking the remainder of the flock back to their field.
Bronwen certainly rose to the occasion. I was proud of her.