Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Working dogs

We woke up to the most beautiful sunrise on the island this morning. There were several photographers out in the fields, our guests from the cottages, snapping away, as I too reached for the camera.

Mist, the sheep dog pup, has been busy, working those pigs again, rounding them up, pacing behind them, tongue hanging out, as they, ignoring her completely, happily munch on cabbage leaves and potato peelings.

The happy farmer took her out for a training session with the sheep the other night. She did really well, working away with the other sheepdog, carefully following the happy farmer’s commands, crouching on all fours, her belly sliding up the field as she skilfully wormed her way around the edge of the gathered flock.…

‘Steady, steady…. down Mist, down…. come up….come up…..that’ll do…that’ll do’,

The words rolling off the happy farmer’s tongue, as he too masters the skills that have been passed on to him, through generations of sheep farmers……
Of course it all went a bit to pot when three happy, squealing children arrived, eagerly wanting to be a part of the ritual of working the dogs, and training our clever pup. I managed to get them to rest on top of the gate, as the farmer got the dogs to hold the assembled flock in the middle of the field.

This morning Mist saw in her element, she got to work with the real thing again, this time ‘working’ in the fank, rounding up the lambs, as the happy farmer separated them into different lots, ready for the auctioneer who is calling by with a float to take them away to market.

Shaking with excitement she took her place next to me as we waited for the sheep to come into the enclosure from the fields. As the sheep gave chase she crouched low to the ground, never taking her eyes off them for a minute, skilfully holding them in a group, listening for her commands from the happy farmer, she slowly moved towards them, head low, tongue hanging out, eyes fixated, carefully following them into the pen, darting after a straggler, who, on having second thoughts, had suddenly decided to made a break for it. Mist, quick as a flash, grabbed the lamb by its scruff, and hauled it back into line.

For now the pup has been confined to barracks. We caught her sneaking out from the garden, heading across the farmyard, towards the fields, not once, but three times, as we sat with our mugs of soup at lunch. A quick call sees her running sheepishly back to the garden, tail wagging away, huge grin on that face, as she waits patiently to take her chance again.

Until next time…..


laurie said...

i love watching sheepdogs work.

there were some trials here last weekend, but we didn't go--it was torrential rain all day and didn't much want to stand in a sea of wet and mud.

Mist is a beuatiful dog, and a beautiful name for a dog.

Pondside said...

Gorgeous dog and a great story of her first efforts!! There are trials here on the Island at Metchosin every summer and I love to go to watch. Most of all I love to see the sheep in the fields and look to see if I can spy the dog.