Before we left for Montana we topped up the mineral and salt tubs and decided that during the couple weeks that both Allen and I were away the ewes would be fine without it, which they were.
The first days back out to the flock I spied a few ewes sniffing around the mineral tub - looking for the salt that wasn’t there. I forgot to load the Ranger with bags of salt and mineral before heading out, so promised them I’d bring it the next day. Our ewes are terribly fond of salt - too fond of it really. I’ve been caught and knocked about in swarms of pushy ewes, while trying to fill the mineral tub; much like one gets knocked about by ewes who know all too well what a grain bucket is.
It wasn’t due to any amount of forethought on my part but I happened to have Coyote Mic along for a ride the next day. As soon as the ewes spied me unloading bags from the Ranger, their heads came up and a young replacement ewe decided to venture forth. I put Coyote Mic on the ground. Coyote Mic knows to get around sheep, and to fetch sheep, and she knows about driving sheep. She does all with a good amount of speed (my friend calls her a momentum dog). What she doesn’t know is to hold steady on pressure and patiently work. With this little task in front of us now seemed like as good a time as any to try it out.
She handled it beautifully, showing no inclination to circle the sheep but all the prowess and stability to stand/walk up and keep them off me and the mineral tubs. Once I praised her for turning them back the first time, I could feel her sense of understanding. I did my job while she did hers, and when finished she called off willingly and hopped back onto the Ranger. I was delighted in our shared experience. This is the beauty and the benefit of finding yourself in the midst of such little tasks and how they can present the perfect setup for the dog to succeed - or to fail. I think the success happened for no other reason than because I was not trying to train as is often the case when I head to the training sheep and try to set scenarios up. This is not saying training with a stock dog is a wrong thing to do - I feel quite the opposite actually. I’ve had these little micro moments present themselves during training as well, and if I go with them, the same connected results can happen. But ‘trying to train’ a task is the mindset kicker.