13 September 2015

Go, Girl! Fate Moves The Sheep! Breakthrough.

Fate Moves The Sheep

Fate Moves The Sheep

It happened spontaneously, and without direction, as I imagined it would. We came into the pasture, I put Red in his usual lie down to hold the sheep until I had opened the gate to get ready for them. I couldn't see Fate, I assumed she was running around somewhere.

I walked over the hill and was surprised – and happy – to see Fate marching the sheep right down the hill to the gate where we usually go. She was circling them rather than walking behind them, but she kept moving and kept them moving, she got them to the gate and held them off of it, as Red does, until I got down there.

This marked the first time Fate actually moved the flock by herself. She has been able to turn them and stop them and is giving them daily doses of strong eye. But today was different, I did a silly jig in the pasture, I have sore legs and a lot of bug bites to show for it, she has worked hard and lovingly.

We'll see what happens tomorrow. Dr. Karen Thompson, the wonderful human and breeder who gave us Fate, says our job as trainers of real herding dogs is to put names on what the dogs naturally know how to do. This is my training credo. Good for Fate.

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Fate And Matthew

Fate And Matthew

Fate And Matthew

I thought Matthew's face was one of the images of the day, he and Fate were wrestling all afternoon, there is something electric that exists between a 10-year-old boy and a border collie puppy. Fate went flying across the yard, knocked Matthew over on his butt and gnawed happily and joyously on his face. He ate it up. Matthew is an animal lover, he tried his hand at sheepherding along with the dogs, he did well.

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Brushing Lulu: The St. John’s Boys. Animals In Our Lives.

Brushing Lulu

Brushing Lulu

There were many touching moments when the St. John's Boys visited the farm. They loved to watch Red and Rose herd the sheep, their eyes were wide and they had a lot of questions, so many I might go see them again at Pompanuck Farms Monday afternoon, their visit was cut short by a fierce rainstorm.

One student in particular – I won't use his name – asked to brush Chloe and then the donkeys. His touch was gentle and intuitive, and the animals loved him and responded to him. The usually standoffish Lulu nestled against him, and stood still for a long time as he brushed her with confidence and sensitivity. He is a natural animals lover, and the smile on his face showed that he saw that as well.

He said he may work with animals now when he gets older. I hope that happens, and if it does, I will be proud and excited that his visit to the farm may have lit that spark. The visit reminded me why animals need to remain in our every day lives, especially in cities and suburbs, where most people live.

I told them about the New York Carriage Horses, none of them had ever seen them, I think that will change now.

We need animals in our lives,  they matter, it would be so wrong to banish them all to rescue farms and preserves where kids like the St. John's boys will never see them. We talked about love, responsibility and the healing power of creatures like donkeys. How can they ever know about it if they never see them?

Lulu did good work today.

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The St. John’s Boys

The St. John's Boys

The St. John's Boys

The St. John's School in New York City and Bedlam appeared to have adopted one another, once or twice a year, some kids from the well-known school for challenged young men come up to stay at Pompanuck Farm and visit our farm. None of them have ever seen a donkey, pony, border collie or sheep.

It is a gift to see these young men light up at the sight of animals, talk to them, brush them, ask a million good questions about them. They learned that animals need work, and they learned that the donkeys of the world carry crosses on their back, and they learned about the challenge and responsibility of training dogs.

We were glad to see them, Chloe has stepped into Simon's friendly shoes, she is happy to receive visitors, be brushed and touched by them, and appreciates every carrot or apple that she can get.

It made us both feel very good to see the farm used in this way, we are getting more and more serious about bringing young people here to see the animals. The boys at St. John's – it is a residence for boys who need homes as well as a school – are most welcome here. Animals can change lives.

St. John's school came to my attention because my friend Scott Carrino lived there when it was an orphanage and he had no home to go to.

 

 

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Father, Son, Broken Limb

Broken Limb

Broken Limb

Towards the end of their work, Justin and Tyler, father and son, decided to get a broken limb down off of the apple tree. It was high and heavy, and still attached. Tyler twisted and twisted it until it snapped and came down and joined the wood on the burn pile. This photograph had symbolism to me, the father and the son working together, communicating so well.

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