It’s Not the Groundhog’s Fault

Spring is on the way. It will arrive as it does every year, when Mother Nature decides it’s time. Until then…brrr-effing-brrrrr. Dang cabin fever is getting to everyone. It’s probably even working under Phil’s fur.

Doesn’t matter what the weather is, though–wind, snow, sub-zero–chores still need to get done on a daily basis. As I mentioned before, I had been taking Grady and Quinn with me. They double-team the sheep, push them off the gate, and try to keep them off me while I put the hay out. A couple days ago, Jig’s usual game of Frisbee got pre-empted by external forces. I decided, as long as she was with me and needed something to do, I’d let her help with chores. I admit, my brain may have been frozen.

For those of you who haven’t been around dogs and livestock, I want to point out that different dogs have very different effects on stock. When Grady & Quinn are in the barn, the sheep will be right up against the inside gate. They need to be pushed away. Barking ensues. Some nipping of noses. Some brute force. More barking and bouncing (Grady, because I should have named him Tigger), and then generally some colorful language by yours truly, which ultimately results in the entire flock being called a group of damn rat bastards.

When Jig enters the barn, the sheep leave before she has even reached the gate. They go stand outside, approximately 30′ away, watching. Even the pushy, most belligerent will not come forward. When I lie Jig down and open the gate, they move even further away.

Ah, if only Jig understood what chores are all about. But this is a new thing for her, and it’s been a long spell of no training and not enough exercise. Needless to say, Day One of Chores With Jig did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. Where ‘not smoothly’ means me getting trampled, the wheelbarrow getting tipped, and much more colorful language than normal. Thankfully, Jig is a quick study. I did need to get into her face so I could get into her head and turn the light bulb on. That took a bit because high drive + high enthusiasm = you couldn’t catch me even if you had four legs and wings.

Sometimes, she misjudges me. I’m a bit insulted by the fact that always seems to surprise her.

Anyhow, there was a bit more moving around of sheep than is required for this task, but she was being nice about it, and we finished chores without any more near disasters. That led to Day Two of Chores With Jig (and why do I hear Miss Piggy’s voice in my head?). I’m pleased to say, Day Two went much better. She actually pushed a ewe off the feeder for me, which is exactly what I want her to do. Ideally, after that, she will continue to hold vigil, keeping the sheep off until the hay is out. She doesn’t know that part of the job yet and took my “Good, girl” to mean “please gather all the sheep and bring them to me at once.”

Which she did.

I expect, because I saw improvement, I will continue to torture myself have Jig help with chores. It certainly livens up the day.

Now, for the viewing pleasure of those who haven’t seen it, a clip of Jig proving that no gate will stop her. Fast forward to about the minute-twenty mark. Yes, this was shot last year, but she still does this, minus all the farting around beforehand. Usually while I’m filling water buckets.