Yesterday we got up early, headed out for some Saturday morning garage sales, and then went to Townsend for the Fiber Festival. Since I am unable to do anything with wool (knitting, spinning, etc), I was really just interested in seeing the sheep herding and shearing demos.
A lovely couple from Kentucky brought their black-face sheep (seems a non-PC name, doesn’t it??) and 3 champion Border Collies down to demo sheep herding.
Their dogs are trained to respond to their whistles, noting the difference between pitch, length and frequency. We were very impressed. Especially, considering the fact that Rick, their 8 year old nationally-ranked boy, is legally blind!!
He explained that he rarely works 2 dogs at once, as it almost becomes more work than help.
In the sheepdog trials in which these dogs participate, each round lasts between 8-15 minutes, during which the dogs are responding to 200 – 400 commands! Amazing.
A well-trained herding BC can cost in the range of $10,000 – $15,000, but is noted to do the work of 2-3 humans on the farm.
These guys can also run up to 2 miles away from their handler to round up sheep. Not bad!!
Reminds me of Miss Bess, my first foster who was a Border Collie / Cattle Dog cross. She would’ve been great at this!
And then there was the sheep shearing…
I couldn’t believe how calm the sheep was to be held in such weird positions while blades are buzzing around them. I suppose they get accustomed to this ritual, and probably enjoy having them heavy winter coat taken off!
I’ll try to post later today about our findings at the garage sales and flea market!