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Sheep in Training

September 12, 2015

Ginny has started to take sheepherding lessons at the place where Robin and I used to go. Robin wants her to be able to practice at home so that’s where I come in. Robin needs a small group of “dog-broke” sheep that will do what they are suppose to when a sheepdog shows up.

What do dog-broke sheep do? They go to the person that is the third part of the picture. A Border Collie (that’s Ginny and me) is a sheep gatherer. We go out and bring sheep to the person. That’s our instinct. In fact we probably don’t even need “training”. The people think we need training because sometimes we like to create our own jobs and the training makes the people think they are still in control.DSC_9833

This is the ram lambs that are still here. Robin’s first idea was to keep three of these and make them into wethers–that means they don’t grow as fast as rams and they won’t get as aggressive. But Robin says they are kind of big to do that procedure now.

Robin can’t send Ginny out to work with the main part of the flock because they don’t always behave like they are supposed to. Those ewes are nasty and belligerent. I can eventually make them move but some of them try to stare me down and if they had three hooves on their feet I think the middle one would be raised. When they have lambs it’s really hard to move them because they want to protect their lambs.

So Robin decided to start with some of the ewe lambs that she is going to keep in the flock.


She put them in a separate pen so we could take them out and work with them every day.


She kind of cheated by putting one of them on a halter. She said that does two things–it gets that lamb halter-broke and it gives us a head start on keeping those lambs where they are supposed to be. If the other three lambs start to run away they are more likely to want to go back to Robin if there is already a sheep there. Eventually they will learn that it’s a better choice to be with the person than to have the wolf dog come after them.


In the blog post about Ginny that is linked at the top of this post Robin said that Ginny likes going “come-by” (clockwise) better than “away” (counter-clockwise). Not me. I do a really good job “away”.

When it’s “come-by” Robin has to get pushy to get me to go out in a wider circle. I just don’t like it. I usually get frustrated and yip and try to grab a sheep. But I’m doing a good job of making these lambs dog-broke so that Ginny can practice at home.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2015 2:33 pm

    Hey Rusty! I’m back from vacation. Someone in Nebraska called me a wolf yesterday morning…you “wolf-dog.” -Magic

    • September 18, 2015 6:02 pm

      I assume that was a compliment. I like the idea of being a wolf.

  2. Bonnie permalink
    September 14, 2015 12:28 am

    It is always good to let people “think” they are in charge. It makes them feel good. Ginny, follow Rusty’s herding advice & you will do fine. Today we went up to Mt. Shasta for a hike – well, more of a walk because Stella is really getting stiff even though both of us are are two meds for arthritis. She is much slower than I am. Anyway we had fun. Bonniero

    • September 18, 2015 5:45 pm

      Hey Bonnie,
      Robin says that everyone gets stiff when they get older. I don’t like to admit it but going up the stairs isn’t always very easy. When I go out with the sheep or Across the Road though I can run just like I always have. I think I can keep up with Ginny.
      Love, Rusty

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