Carew showed great talent when it came to loading sheep onto a cattle truck
This is yet another morning when I was not expecting to be writing a blog! We're hoping to get our new sheepdog training tutorial online later today, but first thing this morning when I took Carew and Kay to help John with the sheep over at Droitwich, Carew got her first experience of loading 54 big ewes onto a cattle truck and I'd like to tell you about it.
The gather went well, with Carew clearing the first field and then both dogs working together to bring over three hundred sheep through the main gate and down the drive to the farm.
For the first time in my life, I find I can work two dogs reasonably well together. I've always thought "brace work" like this was beyond me, so I have never trained two dogs to different commands, but as long as I mention the appropriate dog's name before I give the command, this bright pair seem to know which dog should do what. Of course, two dogs are far better than one when it comes to pushing sheep into the handling pens too.
John had already marked most of the ewes that were going to Ludlow market, so that saved a lot of time, but to sort big strong ewes without an awful lot of struggling meant the sheep had to be driven through a narrow race with a sorting gate at the end. As these sheep are not used to going through a race we knew the task wouldn't be easy.
Carew was a star as usual, working back and forth to push the stubborn sheep up to the race, while John and I took it in turns to direct them along the race - preferably forwards. (Anyone who's helped push sheep through a race will know just how chaotic it can be if the sheep are not used to it). It's interesting to note that as Carew's confidence grows, the sheep respect her more, and recently I haven't felt as anxious for Carew's safety as I did a few weeks ago.
Graham Davies (a cattle haulier from Alfrick, Near Worcester - 01886 832096) arrived with his cattle truck right on cue at just before nine, and in no time at all, the ramp was lowered and the hurdles in place to load the sheep in three groups of eighteen.
I was a little apprehensive about Carew as she was clearly tired from the gathering and sorting operation but she more than rose to the occasion. All the sheep were loaded quickly, in fact, the last batch were up the ramp before Graham had finished putting the partition in place for them, but it wasn't a problem.
It was great to see Carew working so well, and each time the sheep go through the race the task of sorting them will get easier, but I'm a little concerned about Kay. She still puts everything into her work at first, but recently (probably when she's tired) she's started to quit working at some stage. It's not like her to do this, so we'll keep an eye on her. Fortunately, Carew seems to be able to cope with all the work, and we have other dogs who'd love the chance of some flock work, but if I was a farmer relying on Kay, I wouldn't be too pleased if she suddenly decided without warning that she'd had enough.
I'll post any future news on Kay (and Carew) here, so why not come back to the blog for an update?