Yesterday was a big day here on the farm. Yup. Mr. Rebel Kitten officially assumed his position as Barn Cat. Given the speed at which he moved from place to place, and the efficient manner in which he kept an eye on absolutely everything, I’d say he’s going to do things his own freaking way. Then again, that seems to be the theme around here.
Since Rebel seemed occupied with coming to terms with his new responsibilities, I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and firm footing (that’s something of a rarity this time of year) and get some training in.
The calves have been here a week and, though they’ve met the dogs, I haven’t done anything beyond having Jig walk in on a nose to turn them. Having her own steers is going to do that girl a world of good. Okay, it’s going to do us both a world of good. Confession time: I pulled one stupid already. Here’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
As you can see in the above picture, I’ve got the feed bunker in the doorway of the barn. This was due to weather. In any case, three of the calves were in the barn and I needed them out for the moment. I had Jig with me and that’s her job so time to take advantage of a situation.
I sent Jig into the barn and one of the steers promptly exited like a good bovine. I felt the need to then step into the barn myself because black dog, black calves, no light, no trust. All my attention was on that black dog in the shadows behind those black calves and making sure she didn’t start rodeoing. None of my attention, not even the tiniest bit, was on my own self. Jig pushed as she was supposed to do. The calves turned to leave as they were supposed to do. I stood there eyeballing my dog and blocking the exit as I was most decidedly NOT supposed to do. Let me tell you, people don’t give cattle near enough credit for their athleticism and grace. Thankfully the barn door was all the way up because the calves sought their only route out and that meant going over the feed bunker. The first one could have put a hunter-jumper to shame and did so from a dead stand. The second was not quite as talented, or perhaps not as bold. He landed in the bunker. It took a moment, but he extricated himself much as you’d expect a hoofed, four-legged animal to do; via much scrambling of legs, flailing of hooves, and flinging of feedstuffs.
Now, in my defense, Jig has been known to get a bit enthusiastic about moving cattle. Where enthusiasm equals stupid and rowdy. Still, I fully admit, the entire debacle was my fault and due to lack of trust.
In any case, yesterday was a much better day with some focused training. We moved the calves into the small arena and gave them a moment to settle in because they thought the new space was for romping and playing. My focus was on getting Jig to turn them, then take the pressure off and let them move off. That’s hard for her. One of our biggest issues. But she did very well and, overall, I was pleased with everyone’s performance, once I overcame a bout of diarrhea of the mouth and, oh yeah, trusted my dog.
Unfortunately, we had a slight distraction.
Good distraction training for Jig.
Done with the steers, I took Dillon out on some sheep. Talk about distraction training. Rebel came right out into the arena. We worked through it and I warned Rebel he was going to get run over. The sheep, apparently, didn’t think that was a good idea and avoided him altogether. I finally convinced him to leave and continued on with Dillon’s lesson while Rebel watched from the other side of the fence… for the most part.