We sent the flock eastward into the stockpiled winter pasture. With decent weather this should be suitable grazing until January.
Until this point the ewes have traveled westward from the night pen so getting them to travel the opposite route for the first time required some assistance. I let baby BlackJack have the chance. We had a perfect set up for sending from a hilltop and out around the fat end of an apostrophe shaped wetland that was between us and the flock. He barely knows to outrun, let alone go any distance but the lay of land could make it happen naturally. He was fixated on the sheep he could see and taking a shortcut in the wrong direction to get there. Once shown where to travel instead, he was off, the land forcing a correct path. I quickly backtracked, to be sure of meeting him near the flock.
After the outrun, he made a mess of things by pushing too hard and splitting his group around himself but that’s all right for now. We regrouped and the next time I sent him around, he did a sweep of the whole group, getting to the far side of everybody before changing direction again. Small steps.
He doesn’t calm the stock like some dogs do and the ewes were moving quickly to get away from the whirling devil. Once we got the flock strung out and going I had to get control of him because he just wanted to dive in for whoever he could cut off. One step forward, one step back. He can only do so much work before hindbrain gets the better of him and this was plenty. Someone watching from that hilltop might have thought it was a gong show but giving him the opportunity of the job and to make his mistakes was rewarding for both of us. We got our sheep headed where needed.
When the ewes are grazing the east field it is the only time I can see sheep from the yard, and then only from the high points in the yard, and only when they’re on certain knolls. I stepped out front door, zoomed my lens way out and got this picture. They’re ¼ mile away or further.
For bringing the sheep off the pasture in the evening I took the reliable fellow, Gibson. He’s become such an easy dog to have along and hardly a word is spoken between us on routine chores like this. I put him on the ground while I drove along in the Ranger. The ewes were already headed in and the only time he was really needed was for the last stretch up a hill and through the narrow pass leading to the night paddock.
Judging from the very full bellies of these girls I think they’re finding plenty to eat on this winter pasture. Holy, some of them really went to town on this first day, lol. As we head into winter I’m pleased with how the majority of them look; their fleece is tight, their eyes are bright, they’re traveling well, as they must.