Hannah's been doing well, if a little tentatively, moving gentle stock like this year's ewe lambs, chickens, etc. A few times, one of my bigger bossier ewes has turned and stamped at her, and she really seemed at a loss...I'd encourage her, and she'd just disengage and run to me, so I was beginning to wonder whether she had enough "oomph".
Today she was completely different. No hesitation, she really took command, flying up behind a bunch of ewes that had been out and needed to come in, racing ahead to turn them when they began to veer, really fired up, but not overdoing it! The sheep were thunderstruck, and several stopped to take a good look at her as if they couldn't believe it was her; she was right on them, got 'em turned, "goosed" a few that needed it, even nipped at a few lollygaggers. I was thrilled! But the best was yet to come...
We'd been doing some rearranging in the barn and had turned out the band of obnoxious, horned goats we keep separate from the sheep and other goats because they're such savages....and it was time to put them in. I've been avoiding contact between these no-goodnicks and little Hannah because I didn't want her "turned off" or injured, so, satisfied with our success earlier, left her out of the paddock. I didn't command her to stay, she was playing with the kids, I just didn't invite her.
When Hannah saw what I was up to, she leapt thru the big-hole part of the woven wire fence and dove right in! When the big boss AlpineX turned to face her down, she got in an inch from her nose, barking, and lunging forward as the surprised bully backed up! When the big Boer doe came to back up her cronie, Hannah went right in, moving so fast, barking and darting in and out, that both bad goats turned and fled!
With the two leaders in retreat, the rest of the bunch followed them, all but the rutty, stinky LaMancha buck, who turned defiantly and made ready to do battle. Boy, was he in for a surprise... Hannah went right for his nose, which startled and backed him up a step, and while he was off balance she shouldered him around, and then got right up under his tail and ran him all the way in the barn door!
I was so happy I was whooping and the kids were cheering and jumping up and down and everyone was petting & hugging her and telling her how wonderful she was....and she knew she was.-Tish
I never run out of things to say ;-) Not time for me to work on (registration) forms yet, but I AM accumulating goodies to put on them...
It's been bitter, bitter cold here, and in the chaos surrounding my separation from DH plans like building an addition on the barn or erecting a hoop house for my laying hens fell by the wayside... resulting in lots of ewes due to winter lamb in very limited barnspace... So I've been monitoring VERY closely, confining the ewe flock to the barnlot with access to a section of the barn, but only shutting them in to the "maternity ward" as they appear close to lambing... there's just not enough room to keep them all in without packing them so tight any lambs would be trampled. There are ewes who were bred much later, but these are hard to identify in full fleece, and some are yearlings and don't show as much, etc., so I've been trying to stay on top and praying a lot. I've been trudging back and forth every few hours bet. barn & house, trying to beat Old Man Winter to any new babies... so far so good, no losses, just a couple of bottle babies in the kitchen. I am an exhausted, shuffling zombie, but everyone's doing well.
I have to admit there've been times I have wondered if Hannah's herding style is really suitable for sheep... all the body-checks and gripping have seemed like overkill (something better suited to playing hockey, LOL!), but the last few nights have shown me just how valuable a dog like her can be... When I've noticed ewes who looked like they were getting close but have had trouble separating them from the mob and moving them into the barn, Hannah has on several occasions caught and held them for me, has fearlessly thrown herself in front of them as they charged away to prevent their escaping, thereby giving me another chance to get a grip on them, or cornered ewes in the barn or paddock and held them for me. She can tell which one I'm after and is there for me every time. The other night in the moonlight she helped me with a particularly wild one... one who certainly would've evaded me without Hannah's help. This ewe twinned (safely in a jug) overnight. I haven't the slightest doubt that without Hannah we'd have lost those lambs (and others) outside in the sub-zero weather. I've thanked God (and Kathleen:-) many times for Hannah's being here to help me thru this.-Tish Guarding the gate with Duke... (the ewes used to run me over when I'd try to get thru w/hay... needless to say they don't even try anymore)
Early this afternoon, Hannah and Duke alerted me to the fact that my big Lincoln X ram had gotten out of his paddock and was in with the two (much smaller) yearling Finn rams... I looked out to see him repeatedly slamming one of them into the fence and flew out to stop it with the dogs leading the way. The larger of the two Finns was thumping the Lincoln while he pounded the smaller one, and it was NOT something I wanted to wade into, but Hannah knew the big one didn't belong in there and was hurting the others and she lit into him hard ... Duke helped her drive him into a corner, and I went to try to get a hold of him and tow him out of there, but he put his head down and charged me. Like lightning, Hannah launched herself at his face with a snarl and got him turned, and ran him away from me, punishing him all the way, then actually got hold of the ruff of wool around his neck and took him DOWN! This ram is solid muscle and must weigh at least 250#, and he was snorting and charging around like a locomotive, but she put her 60# body in front of him to protect me, and then kicked his butt!!! He was so subdued afterward I was able to get hold of his chin and lead him out, but on the way, one of the younger rams went for him and for a moment I was afraid I'd be hit, but Hannah again took charge and got that one by the nose and drove him out of the way, and then she held the two Finns in the pen while I led the big one out thru the gate. Whew! I could have been injured or even killed today if it hadn't been for my "guardian angel"... How I love this dog!-Tish
Hannah as an adult is anything but shy; she is by far the bravest dog I've ever known. She is also the most observant. Rather than being generally agressive, she watches and waits and doesn't go into guardian mode unless there is a perceived threat, positioning herself so that she can quickly intervene if necessary. If anything looks wrong to her, she reacts instantly, fearlessly launching herself between packmembers and harm's way. She has saved me from injury or worse many times.
I consider this thoughtfulness a very desirable trait in my situation. If I'd wanted a shmoozy, trusting, friendly-to-everyone dog, I would've gotten a Golden Retriever.
We've been having a problem with DH's bird dog, an overly-friendly wiemaraner, escaping from the yard and witlessly following joggers down the road and getting herself lost in the process. The last time she did this she ended up several miles away at a Mennonite dairyfarm, and it took us 5 frantic days to track her down. The foolish girl took off again yesterday in this awful weather, and we're praying she's found shelter until we can find her again. It would be totally out of character for Hannah or Dinah to do something like this. They are bonded to the pack and the territory.