This is the farm I'm looking after at the moment. The first shot was supposed to be of the sheep and it was only after I took the photo that I realised what was in the background..
The job mainly involves checking the sheep and moving them if they need it, and dealing with any emergencies that come up. The easiest way to check these sheep is to walk around the paddock with a bucket of sheep pellets and rattle it. They all come running and you look them over.
Naturally there are always a few that don't come running (sheep being more like people than most folks would like to admit), so I take First with me.
Lovely peaceful harmonious pastoral scenes, right? I was planning to get some shots of First working the sheep for those who don't get to see such things normally. But, about a minute after the above photo was taken, the peace was shattered.
Four people on horses came into the paddock. They had four dogs with them. Two of the dogs were German Shepherds and two kelpie crosses. Anyway, the two kelpies took one look at the sheep and decided they were toys for them to play with. They both took off down the hill as fast as they could go, and ran right through the middle of the mob of ewes we'd just fed, scattering them. They then proceeded to try and split one off and grab it. Luckily the sheep are smart and the dogs were dumb, and they stuck together and hooned off down the hill, dogs in hot pursuit. I was watching all this from the top of the hill, unseen by the owners of the dogs.
So what were the owners doing? Nothing. Not even trying to call their dogs. *sigh* So I sat there, knowing that me doing anything would be fruitless from this distance (about 500m). The dogs continued their chase until the sheep had well and truly got away from them, then proceeded back up the hill looking very pleased with themselves. At the top of the hill was another small group of sheep, which the dogs then chased smack into the fence. The sheep bounced off and ran along the fenceline and through a gate. Luckily by this time the dogs were getting tired and couldn't actually catch them, so were basically just trailing them. This brought them quite close to me, and I managed to call them to me and grab them both by the collar. First wanted to give them a talking-to about etiquette and manners, but I figured I can't afford other people's vet bills so I didn't let her.
[Aside: Back in the day, a lot of shepherds used to have one dog in their team that they'd use to catch and scrag any other dog that got out of line. First would be brilliant at this, but it's not really my style. I don't have dogs that need catching and scragging anyway, but she would dearly love the chance to give it a go.]
So anyway, the first two riders came past and denied all knowledge, saying the dogs I was hanging on to belonged to "Lindsey. She's the one on the black horse. Please don't tell *owner of sheep*" (I'm thinking "Do you have any idea how much these sheep are worth?") What I said was "I'm being paid to look after these sheep. Of course I'm telling her." To which they rode on, red-faced.
When Lindsey rode up, she was with the owner of the German Shepherds (who were happily obeying their boss and staying in behind the horses). She got off her horse and started to apologise. I let her say her bit, which was along the lines of "I didn't know we were coming this way, they're young and I'm sorry." *sigh*
Then I politely and quietly explained to her that the ewes are stud sheep worth around $200 each, that they are in lamb and shouldn't be disturbed, and that the code of the country in NZ gives me the right to shoot her dogs on the spot. I told her I wasn't going to do that, but that she needed to be able to control them before taking them on -any- farmland, that she had best not bring them on this farm again and that I would be telling the sheeps' owner who will deal with it as she sees fit when she gets back. Then I made her take one of the reins off her horse's bridle, use it as a leash for the dogs, and walk home with the dogs on the lead. She swore it wouldn't happen again.
The whole thing left a yuck taste in my mouth. I like to think that people who work with horses have at least some common sense. She'd made no attempt to stop her dogs from worrying the sheep and it was only pure blind luck that there wasn't a sheep getting stitched up by the vet, or worse still, a smother. I got the distinct feeling that if I hadn't been there to witness it, there would have been no remorse whatsoever. Incidentally, one of the dogs actually showed a bit of promise as a working dog. Not that I told her that.
Anyway. If you have a dog, and it is not 100% reliable to your commands, DO NOT TAKE IT ON FARMLAND OFF THE LEASH!!!! Do you understand? Good. Most farmers -would- shoot first and ask questions later. Lack of training is no excuse. [/rant]
And where was First while all this was going on? Sitting on the hill, where I'd told her to sit when it all started to happen. Poor girl, she missed out on her favouritest thing in the whole wide world because of it (there was no way I was going to disturb the sheep any more after that).
Also, I was pleased to discover that I can still lift a 40kg bag of pellets onto my shoulders and carry it despite my smaller size these days. It makes me feel STWONG!! Rar.
And of all the strange things to find in a shed:
By the way, the Cambodian restaurant by the main bus stop in Kilbirnie? Awesome (even if their 'groper' was actually kingfish). The company? Amazing. 15 minutes after committing to this meal and a night of girly videos, I had another amazing offer. There are so many special people in my life. How did that happen while I wasn't looking? It brings me joy every day. *smile*