May 22, 2012: Shhhh.....
Can you hear it? ...the grass growing.
The sunshine has returned to Wales and with it, warm temperatures. Perfect grass growing weather. Of course that also means prime thistle growing conditions and already some of them are knee high. The last couple of days have seen me out attacking thistles and 'mowing' the lawn (I say 'mowing' but I don't actually have a working lawn mower so I have to cut the grass with a strimmer). Thank goodness for sheep dog trials! A good excuse to escape the farm chores for a few short hours.
I was out running in the forest with all the dogs the other day and came across a marvellous sight. Three very small fox cubs blissfully unaware of the dangers of the world. We got to no more than 10 feet from them before they became aware it was time to move off the forest road and into the shelter of the trees. It was an up-close-and-personal brush with nature. Magnificent! Of course, as they moved away I carefully told them when they grow up, they should not eat my lambs. Their mother obviously was not listening as one of our lambs was taken that evening. Grrr.... The Lord giveth and the Lord hath taken away... But wait! Not more than an hour ago, one of my training sheep produced a bonny ewe lamb! Another talk with the foxes is needed...this time, with the pack of hounds from next door to accompany me! I'm not sure I can bring myself to this...those cubs sure were cute! ...but so is our latest lamb. Dilemma!
I don't normally go to trials mid-week as there's always too much to do on the farm but last week, I got a 'day off' and headed to Eastnor Castle in Ledbury, Herefordshire. Had I actually followed Tom Tom, the trip might have been half an hour shorter but I managed to get there before the end of the morning session. I ran Penny in both sessions and the wee lass did me proud with a win in the afternoon. I wouldn't say it was the prettiest of runs but the job got done. The sheep were not easy!!! Boxing them into a trailer to complete the run was nigh on impossible but somehow Penny got them in. The funny thing was, Penny has never put sheep in a trailer and she was totally confused as to their whereabouts once in. She'll get lots of this work this summer so next time she'll know what to do.
Sunday I had yet another foray onto English soil when I went in search of good sheep and a good sized field. I found that at the Wirswall trial...and promptly squandered lovely sheep with bad handling of Meg! Oh well! Sioux had a goodish run but a wayward sheep proved our stumbling block and while we got around the course and finished well, it was nowhere near good enough. Still, it was a lovely trial and definitely worth going back for another crack. Getting up at 4am was hard! I told Kelvin I was going to forget the trial and spray thistles instead. Hmmm...took all of 2 minutes to mull that one over and jump out of bed. Sheepdog trials or thistles? Not a hard decision!
The good thing about running on good sheep is that it highlights all the things that need to be worked on with the dogs. I've got a list longer than my arm! On the other arm are all the things 'I' need to work on. I think this is a longer list. So I best get cracking...