Just A Flock Move

Wow, what a couple of sheep and dog full days.

It was time to sort off yearlings which will be used for the upcoming August Sheep Camp. At the same time I can get my hands on a few thin ewes and treat them.

When I have to do flock work I prefer to to gather the flock and night pen them the evening before. It breaks up the work load for myself and the dogs which is beneficial when it’s just the dogs and I doing the work. The night pen is a large training field and the ewes and lambs have ample room and time to settle after being moved. In the morning they are close at hand.

I find gathering on pasture by far the easiest task to do. Easiest being a relative term. It’s not necessarily easy, because there are a lot of miles to cover to gather five hundred sheep in the hills. The dogs tire out, but pasture gathering is not nearly as taxing as moving five hundred ewes with lambs into a pen they don’t wish to go to. That is bloody hard work.

There is so much work in any flock move it is near impossible to describe what needs to happen, the difficulty of getting that to happen, and what did happen, which is often skewed from what I planned to have happen. Or how to describe the roller coaster ride of working with the dogs.

Here are a few moments I managed to capture of us gathering the flock and night penning last evening. I’ll write up the work that took place today for the next post. It was a real roller coaster.

Cajun does the initial gather, traveling the outskirts and thus causing the ewes to begin to flock up. He hasn’t done a wide pasture gather since early Spring and with all the training I have been doing on driving, he is hesitant to go so far. I get him around and just when he’s at the top of the paddock he seems to remember. He does a lovely go-by and cross drive to bring a hundred or so animals through a pass between two wetlands. I meet up with him the other side.

Cajun works a wayward ewe and lamb up to the flock (and leaves the lamb intact :-) 



Still bringing everyone together. Jayde is now on the ground as well. Those two specks on the far side are the dogs.



The front of the flock has reached the first gate. The rear is still beyond the bus and that’s where the dogs are. Just prior to this photo Cajun was midway along the right side which created the shape of the flock. Initially I wasn’t impressed by his choice to come up there, however, it created a better flow coming to this gate.



Working lambs adds a whole new element to stock dog work. Lambs are too curious for their own good and have the infuriating habit of ducking back or popping if you pressure them to much or just cause they feel like it. Cajun is starting to show patience with lambs but his favourite thing to do is catch them. Jayde prefers to pretend lambs don’t exist.



We are now in a wide alleyway and the dogs were sent ahead to turn the ewes, who a moment earlier, were all heading directly away from us, thinking that they were going to the next gate and out to new pasture.

Here I had a moment to catch a short video as we turn the ewes into the second gate.

Flock Move

One more turn and a final gate into the training paddock where they will spend the night. This one proved to be the toughest part of the move.

All in and settling for the night. The flock has invaded the space where Willow, Zeus and the dogging sheep typically reside. Willow and her group are penned separately. I left Zeus out, and in this photo I think he is wondering if he is supposed to stay with all these sheep and the pack of LGD’s who came in with them.


Dark is coming on and I'm treated to a beautiful display of prairie sky while I walk back for the Ranger, which is way back where this all started.

2 comments:

  1. Well done. We gathered 100 sheep today, using grandparents, kid and us--in all 6 people. And we didn't do nearly so well as you and your two dogs. The worst thing about moving sheep? The noise. Who can hear anything above the din? Not us older people, for sure. I'm curious if your dogs can hear you giving commands above all that.

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  2. No, the dogs cannot hear well above that noise. Even whistles are tough for them to hear. You may notice in the video I give no command. The value of a good ranch dog is that they become familiar with jobs and need less commanding. When I do have to command in these situations, I have to holler or whistle loud which is ugly. I often use body and hand signals and I notice many handlers in countries like Australia, where they are working vast mobs of sheep, often do the same.

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