Monday, October 21, 2013

Ernie's Growing Up!

If you've read this blog at all in the last 6 months, you know that Ernie (our youngest working border collie) has been a handful.  At some point this summer, I decided that his sheep work was never going to improve if he didn't get regular work.  Rather than leave Ernie home when we had real work to do, I started using him.  In fits and starts, we made some progress - but I still relied on Mo and Taff (our older, proven dogs) to do things like load the trailer, move sheep up the county road, and (most recently) move range ewes from the corrals to their paddocks at my new job at McCormack Sheep and Grain in Rio Vista.

All of that is starting to change.  Last Friday, Ernie and I moved lambs from the Allender property in Auburn back to our corrals at Oak Hill Ranch (a walk of about half a mile).  He helped me sort several ewes out of this bunch, and then we walked them out of the corrals, across a field, and up Shanley Road to Amber Oaks Berry Farm.  This move involved lots of gates, several turns, and a need to keep the sheep out of Tim Boughton's vegetables at Amber Oaks.  Despite a few  minor hiccups (where Ernie reverted back to his old habit of trying to get to the heads of the sheep), he did wonderfully!  He still works too close much of the time, but he's really trying to pay attention to me - he's acknowledging that we're working together!  My friend Roger videotaped much of the move - hopefully we'll post some of it soon!

Today, I relied on Ernie to bring two groups of ewes out of the corrals and to move them back to their paddocks.  The first was a short move - maybe 150 yards.  The second was a one-mile walk up the road.  He passed with flying colors!  We still have a long way to go, but we're definitely making progress!  I wish I had better photos to post - but I still have to give Ernie my undivided attention when we're working.  Someday....

The end result of Ernie's work this afternoon - ewes back in their pasture!

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