It’s Official – Sheepdog Training’s Suspended

Constant rain (with even more predicted) has forced us to stop sheepdog training for a while

Sheepdog Jan standing in water which reaches halfway up her legs.
Whatever the weather, Jan will always grasp an opportunity to submerge herself in water!

We managed to run both sheepdog training courses in January. That in itself is remarkable; last year we were forced to cancel all courses from October (2012) until March (2013).

Last winter was the wettest I can remember and, to be honest, it was so unusual I wasn't expecting another winter with just as much constant rain (and particularly not the following year). Just in case though, as the winter approached, I made sure we had fewer sheep and retained more grass. A good covering of grass forms a protective mat on top of the soaking wet soil but, eventually, even that protective layer breaks down. With sheep frequently walking on it, the grass sinks into the muddy ground and the field becomes a mud bath. That's the situation we had last year, and I didn't intend it to happen again.

Young sheepdogs Dash and Madge in the mud. (Madge is actually 25% Jack Russell Terrier).
Young sheepdogs Dash and Madge standing in the mud. Madge is actually 25% Jack Russell Terrier but promises to be a useful sheep, cattle (and ratting) dog

So I've been quietly pleased with my stock management. The reduction in sheep, and preservation of grass, was a wise decision and our extra thick layer of grass has held up well so far this winter. However, over the past few days I've been alarmed to see a rapid deterioration. With this in mind, Gill and I have decided to keep non-essential traffic off the field.

Obviously the sheep move around quite a lot when you train a sheepdog, and their tiny feet can "poach" the ground quite badly, so in the interest of preserving our precious grass, training is curtailed for the time being.

Of course the dogs will still have their twice-daily runs, but sadly we won't be training any sheepdogs until conditions improve.

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