Today’s the shortest day

Daylight hours are in short supply at this time of year, but the weather's been great for dogs!

Sheepdog Jan playing with a twig

Jan has settled in really quickly. She's proving to be a real character.

Well, the shortest day means it's actually the dead of winter, but so far, the weather's been great for the dogs. It's unusually warm for the time of year in the UK and although there's been a lot of rain, we've enjoyed more than our fair share of sunshine between the showers. As you'll see from the picture above, Jan positively revels in water - she must surely be the most enthusiastic "water baby" we've ever had.

Because of the mild weather, we're lucky enough to have a good covering of grass. In fact it's still growing, albeit very slowly. So although the ground's very wet underneath, the field's nowhere near as muddy as it was this time last year, because the grass "mat" prevents feet and hooves from sinking in and churning it up.

Jan (with plastic toy in her mouth) and Meg racing around our field

Jan running with her pal Meg - note the plastic toy in Jan's mouth.

Just at the moment, we're enjoying a particularly harmonious period with the dogs. Because we only have 5 acres of land (about two hectares) whenever we have new dogs, we often have to make sure the sheep are securely penned "out of sight and out of mind" in an attempt to detract the young dogs from seeking them out and chasing them when they go out for their twice daily run. Of course, all the dogs know the sheep are there, but usually, if the sheep are out of sight, the dogs would rather play together than go searching for them.

Fortunately, the dogs get used to the idea of playing in the field without chasing sheep and as long as the sheep keep fairly still, we can relax the rules a little. Currently, we don't even need to put the sheep away before letting the dogs into the field. The sheep are sensible enough to keep themselves in a corner or under the hedge near the top of the field, and the dogs completely ignore them, even though the sheep are within sight.

This is especially commendable when you consider that Jan and Ned have only been with us for eleven days! What amazing creatures border collies are.

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