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INU

Questions for full time shepherds

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I was wondering what the full time stock BC and shepherd's daily schedule was like.I assume BCs don't need to work on stock all the time and probably doesn't require constant running - correct me if I am wrong.

I am curious to find out what the limit of average BCs are on physical level. throwing a ball/disc for one hour and running on a trail for 30 minutes then do agility for 1 hour can't be limit to them.

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Hi Inu,

 

My day usually starts around 5:30 or 6 a.m. (Taking it easy this morning -- slept in until 6:30.) This time of year, I usually finish up by about 9:30 or 10 p.m.

 

Our dogs spend most of the day in the kennel, but there are certainly days (like yesterday, when we were shearing) when there is a lot of work.

 

Particularly in the summer, when it's hot, I find that most of our dogs are starting to get spent mentally after between 30 and 45 minutes of field work, or about an hour in the pens. They still have the physical stuff, but their brains have fallen out. You wouldn't see this playing with a dog; they still know and vaguely obey all their commands, but they are rash or sulky, and sometimes start to do a bit of freelancing.

 

I find that if I push them too much past this point, I start to get angry at them, and that's no good for anybody. Better to simply switch dogs.

 

In the spring, winter, and fall, they will go for hours without difficulty.

 

One of my favorite jobs in the summertime is moving one of our groups of sheep between two particular grazing sites. They are about three miles apart, and the path between them is a snowmobile trail that goes through the woods and along some powerlines, and ends up crossing the top of a flood control dam at the foot of a lake. We usually use three or four dogs for that move. One is in the front as the "brake dog" and the others are at the rear and sides keeping the sheep moving forward and preventing them from spreading out too much in the woods.

 

When we finish that move, the dogs are physically tired -- they want to sleep. There isn't too much mental pressure in that work, so they stay pretty fresh through the whole thing. And there are about five brooks that we cross along the way, so they can get a drink and cool down.

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Oh Bill, that sounds like the life any BC would dream about...... I envy you, not for the physically demanding work that you do every single day, but for having a REAL JOB for your BC's. Maybe some day. :rolleyes:

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wow, this gave me goose bumps - good ones

I am visualizing this like a movie

 

Thanks for sharing.

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I guess I am not really a shepherd, though I generally have over a hundred sheep. My primary money maker is dog training, then training dogs for sale, lessons and I raise about 50 lambs for sale each year. With so many dogs to train, I am constantly scrambling to give them "real" work to do in addition to their trial training. 100 sheep while it sounds like alot, really require very little maintenance (or at least that is the way it feels to me.) Anyway, the average day starts at 6 am with a long romp in the yard...after breakfast my friend usually comes over and we take our time working the way thru the dogs (often punctuated by long talks under the tree when its hot!) With my young dogs, I generally wait till the big group of my sheep spreads out in the pasture in the evening and send her to pick them up, drive a bit then go feed or do somehting else till they spread back out. She typically gets about 4-6 short works a day (say 15 minutes) As Bill says, their minds just fry in the heat. In the winter though, some of my dogs require extensive works (the manner of dog they are) it is not unusual for me to work and school my Todd for over an hour without him even starting to pant. He doesnt start to look good till about 45 minutes and is pretty sweet by an hour. I used the little Maddie dog I have when the shearer came and it was oh say 90 the day he stopped in. She worked from 7 am till 5 pm by the time we had finished worming and everything...she took one drink at lunch and that was it and was as hard to hold at the beginning of the day as the end. Not even a bit tired. Ha good luck fining the bottom of that one, sheesh.

 

I wish I had the setup of 600 or so acres and the volume of sheep to go with it. I really enjoy tending the sheep and lambing..the additional work would also do my dogs a world of good.

 

Dont know if this is the answers you were looking for, guess just rambling..off to mow grass now, my other occupation.

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Sam,

 

How did you get so 'lucky' to have a life style like that. Must be so fulfilling - though I'd never thought that way until I got a BC myself.

 

Which state is Richmond in?

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Ok Sam,

You have the ideal life ! I need to know what to do now, I have 5 acres, a husband that works, a new young dog I am training and sheep later this summer at our house. I am a Sam wannabe! Of course probably 15 years older and not nearly as cute *grin*. Watching you from afar and saying "Hey I want what she's having!" What hard work and fun at the same time

Caroline and Charlie and Luke who ran the sheep into me when I wasn't prepared and took out my knee which is now in a BLACK brace for quite a while and HOT especially next two weeks in the Panhandle of Florida for vacation. Yes my last vacation before sheep!

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I gotta say it, yes I am very lucky...I thank my lucky stars everyday that things have worked out this way and try to remember it on the bad days (yes there are those too) I started doing sheepdogs about 7 years ago. In the course of trialing, I ended up with my current instructor. After about 3 yrs of lessons, the girl that worked the winters for him breaking dogs couldnt fulfill her contract so he asked me if I would step in and fill her spot. Welll I went home and said Hey Honey, can I quit my job at the Accounting firm and train dogs for a living? He said if that is what you really want to do, go for it. So about two weeks after that, I was the proud caretaker of 15 dogs who all need a-z crash course in everything. My old farm where all this started was a swamp, it was winter...these dogs had no manners and no clue about life in general...My place wasnt equipt to house them properly and I was working for one of the top sheep dog guys in the world...You want to talk instant ulcer that was it. As they always do, my best buds came over and bailed me out getting kenneling set up for all these beasts and we muddled thru. The next winter was better as we moved to a new farm that wasnt a swamp, I had a proper kennel set up and sheep that suited the job better...needless to say, I didnt spend ALL the days in tears that year. We had also structured the working arrangements better with me saying that I wouldnt take the dogs unless I got a hands on checkup every two weeks on each dog and I only took ten...plus too I was by this time pretty good friends with my "boss" and I didnt feel like I was gonna break into tears or throw up every time I had to work a dog for him soo hey that was progress huh? The third year I took in primarily private dogs and got the numbers down to 6 plus my own so the totals were shrinking from say 25 dogs to say 15 that I had thru the winters. Now I take in only private dogs (maybe 3-4 this winter) and train up 3-4 for sale. It was a rough start but it has been worth it in the end and it really put my training education on fast forward getting to work with all those dogs and the hands on training I had was uncomparable...it has turned into a nice buisness for me allowing me to do something I love. Pretty crazy to think that before I got Tucker I had NEVER mowed grass in my life. When we moved to that first farm we new less than nothing (hey if the crawdad mounds in the pasture werent a dead givaway the swamp grasss should have been) You never know when you might make one decision that will change the rest of your life. Getting a Border Collie sure changed mine!

 

Oh Richmond is in Virginia. about two hours away from DC.

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Caroline,

God becareful! Sheep herding is a contact sport...one funny thing the first year I was working I was showing one of the dogs and the guy I worked for roared up on the 4 wheeler and told me something then took off, wellllllllll the long line the dog was wearing was wrapped around the axel...well I screamed because I was worried he would hurt the dog, should have been worried about myself as it was ALSO wrapped around my hand and my ankles. Next thing I know I am flying thru the air, half the skin is gone off my hand and I am laying flat on my back with him and my husband looking at me with very very pale faces! A definate bad day at the office! See it isnt all roses by a long shot!

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But, Sam, we still envy you for your drive and accomplishments, and a hubby that says, "If that's what will make you happy, go for it!"

 

Actually, my hubby says that, too. So I guess we are both blessed.

 

Good luck in your trialling this summer! I still appreciate how kind you were to me at Seclusival.

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Sam - you have my dream life, right down to the part about being an ex-accountant. I'm an accountant right now but would love to someday quite my job and start my own BC farm......

 

Do you and your husband have children?

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Sam's too young to have children. She's too young to be married and have a former career as far as I can tell.

 

I think she's making the whole thing up.

 

Not that I'm jealous or anything.

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Hey, Sam, it's about time you got Fred, DottieJo, and Blitz in your sig! Dhu is in heat again. Want some more puppies? :rolleyes:

 

Just for the record and to stay on topic, I also love Sam's place and her lifestyle. I'm not sure I would hold up long, though!

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Hey Joan,

Is Scott's little Sweep a Dhu? I think so. He's pretty cool, I wouldn't mind getting my hands on him once he's finished. Cute too, just a little scrap of a tri-coloured thing, looks just like daddy in miniature.

Beware these hot prospects, Dhu's gonna be in demand forever.

A.

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Hey A. -

 

We call that one MiniSweep and yep he is a Dhu. I LOVE my Dhu pup, Rocky RULES! Haven't had her on sheep yet but she's just the best puppy. Well, until my 8 little monsters get bigger. They were 6 weeks yesterday and i'm sure going to miss them when they leave. Nice pups.

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Hi, Andrea! Yes, the MiniSweep is a Dhu pup. I wish I could have seen him at the Bluegrass. I've heard nice things about him.

 

Robin's Rocky is a miniature of Dhu. I'm very fond of that pup, might steal her from Robin someday. :rolleyes:

 

I own Dhu now, bought her at Ben Ousley's trial - so I control the demand and not lose my dog every time she goes into heat. :D I'd love to have a tri out of Dhu someday, though! Guess I'll just wait for the right offer at the right time.

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Yay Joan--she's yours! Congratulations girl.

Yep, I got the chair Robin. Sorry bad form not acknowledging receipt of your gift.

I envy all you guys your pups and their bright promise. I'm leery of the whole process now that I've struck out with the poor little muskrat. All the worse, given that all his sibs, half-sibs and same-way sibs are all successful or on the way to becoming successful.

Sorrowful,

A.

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PS INU,

Sorry about hijacking your thread.

While I am by no means a full time shepherd either (50 sheep provide a laughable amount of chore work on a daily basis), I have used my dogs for many hours in a day when I put on clinics or trials. Yep, they get tired, mentally and physicially, but they learn to pace themselves and conserve their strength. Probably the ultimate indication of true exhaustion is when they lie flat on their sides flaked right out whenever they get a break and don't leap up immediately whenever you take a step, and I've only seen that once or twice.

A.

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Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhh NO KIDS NO KIDS! Hey Bill Fosher, I am jealous of your lifestyle too, so nahnah nah....Hows that for mature! So just wormed and weaned over a hundred sheep and worked dogs in 94 degree heat..remember what I said about not much maintenance...It is a lie, a big fat lie...now it is nap time!

 

Hey A, Miss you girl, Miss you! Oh Gave Maddie away..she leaves next week..got all my strings, just no money but great home.

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Mis you too darlin'. Wish we were workng doggies together in the heat. Anyway, I'm going trialing tomorrow so I'm not totally morose. See if I can get the Toblerone to the pen. That pesky off balance flank at the drive panel, don't you know.

Happy for you re Maddie. I'm still looking. Had a couple of pet home prospects for Jaffe but they just weren't quite right.

A.

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Oh Joanie, course you could hold up... Didnt you hear, all I do is sit in my blue chair and eat bon bons! Course that is the word on the street anyway! Oh yeah and watch lots of movies

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