Friday, December 10, 2010

The Matron, Newcomer, Three Virgins, and Two Lambs

Sometimes the sheep dictate the practice. At this time of year, I choose the practice flock randomly. Usually, it's the last group to the barn. In yesterday's case, it was the group that was leaving the barn and heading out to pasture. I shut the gate after several had gone through. The practice group was the Eclectic Seven. They included: The Matron-- the oldest ewe. She's been worked a few times by the dog and is a leader. I didn't see a problem with her. The Newcomer -- an adult ewe who'd never been worked by the dog. She'd be a challenge, but I hoped she'd follow the Matron. Three Virgins -- three of the practice ewes I'd used during the summer and fall. By fall, the Virgins had learned that if they came to me, I'd keep the dog from them. So, when I sent Caeli to fetch, they often came running to me before she reached them. At least they knew the routine, I thought. The Lambs -- I had a bottle lamb, who was people friendly but still followed the flock, and an unpredictable other lamb. When Caeli fetched them, the flock split. The Three Virgins moved toward me, then, realizing the others weren't following, stopped. The other four wanted to move toward the barn and the safety of the larger flock. I was going to practice: 1) Staying calm. 2) Putting Caeli in a down position while I figured out how to reunite the flock.

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