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Monday, 15 August 2011

Man's Best Friend.

It is often said a good sheepdog is worth three men. Or ten, if your neighbour is telling the story. Watching a working dog in action is a thing of beauty. I have often said myself the day I train dogs to open gates is the day my casual workforce halves. All they want to do is please you and ask for nothing more than a pat and a good feed.

Blue, in training. Notice his big feet?

There a times however, when we ourselves confuse the dogs. The paddock we normally bring the sheep through into the yards might be in crop, so we decide to go another way. Now the dog know for themselves which way is the best way, regardless of what you might think, and it can take some explaining and cajoling to convince the dog the route we've taken since he was a pup is not the route we take today. Or maybe we decide to leave any straggler sheep behind, usually a cardinal sin. This goes against all the rules according to the dog, and again, much cajoling is needed. And dogs can give the best dirty looks.

But on this particular day, nothing could have prepared me for what happened. And it only happened because the dog listened to my exact commands and followed accordingly.

The new kids.  Buddy (below) is the dad.

We were drafting big wild damara rams. Huge sheep that can take a bit of getting used too. My wife is on the gate and I'm on the outside of the race with the jigger and dogs. One cranky big ram doesn't want to run up the race, so I tell one dog, Blue, to "Gedupfront" and step forward to give a bit of encouragement.

Now pay attention, this next bit takes some explaining.

L-R, Jess, Indy, Buddy, Blue and Ned after a hard day.

I'm on the left side of the race, so is the dog. As I step forward, my left leg first, the dog also jumps the fence into the race just ahead of me. By leading with the left leg I have left certain sensitive parts of the anatomy wide open. The dogs back foot flicks up as he jumps over the rail, creating a whiplash like effect on said anatomy. At the same time, the ram jumps up and lurches forward to get away from the dog. I fall in a crumpled heap, but all my wife sees is a jumping ram and me go down like I've been shot. Trouble is, once one damara goes, they all go, so shes madly trying to stop them as they rush forward in a heap while I lay groaning, unable to speak. 

Ned, cooling his, um...tail?

"What happened?!? Are you OK?!!" she's calling as rams fly though the draft, spurred on by our eager dogs. "Hmm...ugh...nuts......" I feebly mutter, trying not to throw up. She rushes over, all concerned and worried. "You OK? Did he headbutt you? Is it bleeding?" I'm still laying in the foetal position. "Bloody dog kicked me in the nuts." Well, all sympathy vanishes instantly and I'm sure the neighbours could hear her laughing, despite her best attempts at trying not too. Women just don't understand. Blue, however, came over and licked me in the face. If I didn't know better I'd say he was smiling. Revenge for his neutering perhaps?


KT said...

Same passion exists here in NSW, check out our blog

Emma said...

Just found your blog :)
I would've been laughing like your wife hahaha One day I can think how would we live without our dogs, the next I'll be cursing her and threatening to give her away to next stocky who takes a liking to her. She means well though!

CountryMouse said...

OUCH! You had me laughing ... keep 'em coming and look out for any future kickers.