I got six new sheep today. They are Border Leicester and North Country cross. All bred for late January lambing. Carolyn saw them and knew I might be in the market for a few more sheep so she called me. She picked out these and she did great. Nice, square and big bodied. Not dog broke at all. All attitude.
We unloaded them in the back lawn pasture. Glock, the LGD positioned himself between these interlopers and his lambs. His flock ran into the lambing shed and peered out at the newcomers. The new ewes ignored them and began to survey the pasture. They saw the llama, whirled like a ballerina and darted into the woods. The llama spat after them.
I gave them a few minutes to settle down. I wanted to put them in the lambing corral so they would be used to a stall and a small pen. Plus that way, I would be able to keep an eye on them. I looked down to see four sets of eager eyes, waiting to be the chosen one. I mulled it over. Would it be Rainey, who is sticky and may have a hard time moving tough sheep. Would it be Nan who is fast as a gazelle who may spook the sheep. Would it be Maid would could move any sheep. I look at her slightly crossed eyes and thought I had made my decision when I heard a heavy, deep sigh.
I saw Tess, gazing up at me, her clouded eyes boring into my brain. Should I take the 13.5 year old dog? The one who doesn’t go faster than a trot. The one that is half deaf and blind?
She dropped her head and looked rejected.
“Fine” I said and opened the gate for her. She sprang in the pasture while the other dogs stood in amazement.
She quickly scanned the field but did not see the sheep hidden in the woods. I pointed to the woods and told her “Get them”. From the days, when I used her to find sheep, that meant go the direction that I am pointing and find the sheep. That usually meant that I had no idea of exactly where the sheep were but only a general location. In the tall grass in my other field, Tess would work the 25 or so acres, nose down until she found the sheep. Most of the time the sheep were not where I thought they would be in the pasture so she has learned to find them herself without my useless help.
She darted off like a Jack Russell Terrier after a mouse. I laughed at her speed as it was quick and beautiful A tear welled at the corner of my eyes and she came out of the woods with the six ewes. They had their heads held high and one turned on her. She ran at Tess who held her ground and at the last minute, slid to a stop, inches from Tess’s nose. Tess didn’t flinch and the ewe backed up. Tess pushed them all the way down to the gate.
At this point, the home flock came spilling out of the shed and joined this group. Tess looked back at me and we began to set up for the shed. It wasn’t particular well set up, a blend of new and old sheep and I pointed to the new ewes and told her “These”. She sorted off five and the sixth one dashed into the middle of the home flock. I gave a heavy sign and Tess dropped her head. She split the home flock and fastened her eyes on the last ewe. She backed her up to the five and tucked her in. The home flock began to creep up and I told her to look back. She spun on a dime and held her ground. I told her to walk up and she pushed them back into the shed.
I opened the gate and she put the new ewes in the pen. I wanted her to push them into the stall,. They stopped at the door and all turned on her. I kept my mouth shut as she knew I wanted them in the stall. She lifted hr foot and they stamped at her. She froze, then leaned forward. One ewe leaned and sniffed her nose and Tess flatted her ears. The ewe backed up. Two more stamped their feet and Tess dropped her head lower. A few minutes later, all the ewes solftly turned and went into the stall. Tess looked at them, satisfied and then came bounding to me.
It was a good choice to use Tess. Use the old for the new. The ewes are settled into their stall and Tess has her head on my lap while I wrote this. She is content now, knowing that I made the right choice. The ewes are grateful that I made the right choice.