Er, that'd be the field of your choice except perhaps English, then?
Tommy gets in at 6pm tonight. I am excited. Normally I feel trepidation about his visits because I'm not a full time parent, and suffer from self-doubt about my ability to remember how to do it. But I think, after all these years, I'm finally realising that although he's growing up fast (taller than me? wtf?) he is essentially the same person every time, and I know him really well.
Of course, he did just turn 13 so I'm expecting him to turn into a stranger before my eyes any day now. But hopefully it won't happen this visit. ;-) My wonderful flatties have offered their spare room for his use, so he can have privacy and warmth (ie not the rumpus room) while he's here. We have a fridge full of good food, loads of space, and lots of stuff lined up to do.
I also have the rest of the week off so I can hang out with him, since flying him down here would be kind of pointless if all I was able to do was hang out with him before and after work. Yay for understanding bosses.
In other news, spending the last week in introspection was a good plan, even if it wasn't really planned. I feel better for having taken a bit of time out, which is a good thing considering that this week university starts up again. *meep* Sociology. That's something to do with societies, right? Also, plz2b telling me why they don't put tutorial signups online early just so that I can get one that doesn't necessitate an extra trip into town for me? Dashed inconsiderate, that.
I was disappointed not to find snow on the lawn on Sunday morning. If it's going to be that cold, we should get something to show for it. Yes yes, I know, those of you who live places where it snows a lot are probably going "WTF Tats? You don't seriously want all that hassle?" Well, yes I do. It's so rare here that it'd have novelty value, and not hang around long enough to become a pain. 'Sides, can anyone say BURNING SNOWMAN!!?!???!!
Reminder to self - register dog.
Speaking of dogs, First got to be a Real Sheepdog on Saturday. You know, in that half-hour spell of sunshine between the gale force northerly and the gale force southerly? We shifted the hoggets. They'd strayed through a weak spot in the fence, into a bush paddock they'd never been in before. Consequently, when we went to get them out, they didn't know where the gates were, and determinedly avoided going the easy way, so we had to take them the long way round. In the course of this I became convinced that they needed to learn how to be worked by a dog.
Sheep that have been worked by dogs naturally mob together when nervous, whereas sheep that have only been worked by slow-moving people with a bucket, tend to separate and shoot in all directions - they know they can run faster than a person, and it's a case of 'divide and conquer', sheep style. So it was time for some lessons.
It's always interesting training sheep to a dog, but it's even more interesting when the dog is 5 years out of any real work, somewhat elderly, and unfit from living the high life as a town dog/pet. And of course there's that bit where the shepherd is trying to remember which of the 6 sets of whistles she used to use, apply to this particular dog. So it turns out that First remembers the run whistle, the walk-up whistle, and the left whistle quite well, but not the right whistle or the stop whistle. And I had to run through about ten iterations of various whistles before I remembered which were the right ones. For my record when I forget again:
Run - wolf whistle in excited tone
Stop - short single 'pip'
Left - high/low
Right - low/high
Walk-up - two low, breathy
Recall - loooooowwwwhigh!
By the end of it, I'd convinced her that going between the sheep and the fence, while harder and scarier that coming round behind me, was more conducive to actually getting the sheep to go somewhere, and she'd managed to mob them up and move them around a little, despite their attempts to stamp their feet at her and scatter to the winds. I'm not sure I convinced her that sometimes I know better than she does exactly where she should be standing. I remember back in the day when I used to make my living from her sheep chasing, I always had trouble getting her to run all the way round the mob to twelve o'clock - she'd get as far as she needed to go to get the sheep to respond, then stop. She still does this - it's not laziness, it's instinct - strong-eyed dogs stop as soon as they get a response, and sometime it's more of a problem than an asset.
And her fat ass was dragging on the ground by the end of it, but she looked very pleased with herself.
Next time, I'll take my wee plastic whistle:
Because I'm way better with one of those than I am with just plain whistling, and it's what she's used to. I'll also take a stick (for the signposting, not for the walloping).
Um, can you tell I get excited about working sheep with a dog? I just wish I had more sheep and regular work, because First is a rocking little sheepdog, and she's getting old. At this point, were I still shepherding, I'd be starting a new pup to take over the hard stuff for her, and she'd live out her days licking pots and doing the easy jobs while lording it over the pup because of that seniority thing.
Please can someone buy me a farm? It doesn't have to be a big one. *hopeful look*
And from the WTF file: