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Peg Haese

Re: Jumpers

Postby Peg Haese » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:54 am

OT - Hi, George, welcome to this great forum! The dog Mac that Paul refers to was sired by your Mick (son of Bill Berhow's Hall of Fame dog Nick) and out of your Bette who I think you sold after that litter. We now have two year-old pups from a friend that are about six weeks apart in age. They are linebred on our Mac and thus have your Mick several times in their pedigrees. We are VERY happy with them. Two sheepdog trialers were here Sunday to buy some training sheep and would have been happy to kidnap Annie in particular.

Back on the jumper topic - we sorted off some wool lambs last Wednesday to take to market. One jumped a 4-foot solid panel back where they had come from. Then one jumped out of the loading pen, not sure if it was the same one but it probably was. I sure hope it was on the trailer. Bad news if it's still here.

Fence busters - we seem to have one ewe every year that gets out and brings her lambs along every time. However it seems to be a different ewe every year and I haven't noticed the daughters picking that up. Usually it's a ticket to the sale barn but this year it was Paul's favorite ewe Bandit and she's staying, along with her daughter. Hmm, the daughter escaped from the lamb lot and got in with the rams so she has apparently inherited the Houdini gene. I will have to track that.

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Re: Jumpers

Postby kris » Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:15 pm

Where's the train story???


Laura L.
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Location: Portage, Wisconsin, USA

Re: Jumpers

Postby Laura L. » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:08 am

The train story has passed on into the black hole that old posts go to if they aren't archived. Maybe Janet can do a quick summary of it?

Janet McNally
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Location: East Central Minnesota

Re: Jumpers

Postby Janet McNally » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:32 pm

here it is... there are actually two train stories...but this is the one that pertains to this topic. There is a moral to the story :D

I had a ewe that was very good at getting out. At the time I used hog pannels for gates. She learned to climb up on the flimsy gates and make them lean over, then she would hop out. Often her buddies would then follow now that the gate was compromised. She was a very good ewe though, one of the best. She had two beautiful lambs on her, so it was really hard to cull her. (never mind that maybe spending the summer in the garden had something to do with the nice lambs!). So I put a bell on her, so I would at least know that she was out and could put her back before her pasturemates caught on.

One morning there was a knock at the door. The man explained that my sheep were headed south on hwy 61. I quick grabbed my boots, my dog, and my father in law who was visiting, and drove down to where they were last seen. I was relieved to see that they were on the rr tracks, instead of the highway. At least I would not have to deal with traffic there. There were about 30 of them, headed south on the tracks. there is only one train a day that passed by, and I was pretty sure that train had already passed by this morning. So I parked my truck at the nearest rr crossing, and my bc and I strolled down the tracks to fetch the sheep. My father in law waited at the crossing, to control traffic when we came back. The tracks were surrounded by swamp on both sides, so I was confident the sheep would not leave the tracks, as they hate to walk in water.

As I walked, I thought I heard a train whistle. Always the optimist, I convinced myself that surely that was a train on the other set of tracks in Hinckley, as we can often hear that train as well. But I did pick up the pace a bit. Then a minute later, I heard another whistle...and what was disturbing about that whistle, is that it sounded closer. I looked up the tracks, and could not see anything, so I still was not really sure if I had a train coming, but I picked up the pace a bit more, I was not quite close enough to the sheep to send the BC out to fetch them. Now, at this time, I had lyme disease, but had not yet been properly diagnosed. One of the symptoms bothering me, was that the muscles between my ribs were very tender, and breathing hard was painful. So I was reluctant to break out into a run lest I be unable to breath well enough from the pain. But, I heard yet a third whistle. This time when I looked back, I saw that bright light from the engine of a train and it was on my track. I did some quick math. I knew those whistles were probably a mile apart, and if I can see the train, it is within 3 miles of me. The train travels 50 mph, I realized I had only 3 minutes to get the sheep off the track. I broke into a run and sent my BC out to fetch the sheep.

Upon catching up to the sheep, I could hardly give Chip, the BC, her commands as I was so out of breath and any effort to talk was painful. I could only let out hoarse fragments of way to me, walk up! etc. I ordered Chip to take the sheep off the tracks and down the side of the rr embankment towards the swamp. Chip tried her darndest, getting in their faces, and tugging on their britches but nothing would make them move. Any time a sheep was shoved out from between the rails, they would tuck their feet back inbetween the rails. It was as if they feared an alligator would come out of the swamp and eat them lest they set foot outside of those rails!

After a good effort I realized I had to change the plan. (one good rule of working stock is "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result"). the sheep were not budging. The only thing I could do was to start tossing them off the tracks. so using a trick my sheep shearer had taught me, I grabbed a sheep by the head and with a twist sent them rolling down the embankment...one at a time. The only problem is, they would hit the bottom, and the swamp, and would hop to their feet, run back up the bank and jump right back in between the tracks. I started tossing them off faster, hoping if I could only get 2 or three down there, maybe they would stay, and the rest would follow. Meanwhile good ole Chip was doing all she could to get those sheep off the rails. It was almost like bowling...rolling a sheep down hoping to knock down the one that is on its way back up, so that just maybe I could get a third down. At this point I could not even talk any more, I was really heaving and my whole chest ached. they continued to run back up the bank and return to the 'safety' of the rails.

Meanwhile my father in law was trying to stop the train. It was a hilarious sight, all 125 lbs of him jumping up and down and waving his arms in front of a freight train. The engineer saw we had a problem and had slowed down, but there is no stopping a train. Just like in the movies, that engine was getting bigger and bigger and bigger as it came closer. It was now so close I knew there was nothing more I could do. I said a prayer, asking for help, and then grabbed by BC, because she was worth more than the whole lot of sheep. My plan was to get off the tracks and turn my back so I would not see what was about to happen.

Just then the whole group of sheep, approx 30 of them, jumped off the tracks all in one movement, as if they were one animal. They jumped out just before I got off the tracks, but then they stopped just short of the swamp. All 30 stood on the bank, with their tails to the train, and left me, oh, about 3 feet between them and the train to stand. I stood in this space, holding Chip by the collar as she gasped for air. Perhaps I held her collar a bit tight, as I was so afraid that the sheep might turn around and dive under the train. Meanwhile I worried that if they backed up, they might push me into the train. We stood there as the train slowly passed, Chip and I panting from our effort.

when there were just three cars left to go, I saw a ewe turn around and peer under the train. she looked intently, noting that the train was much higher than she is, and that there was enough room to fit underneath the train from her point of view. So she took aim and shot under the train to freedom. Unfortunately she had not factored in the hopper bottoms from the fertilizer cars. One of these hoppers struck her shoulder as she passed under the train and it laid her down flat, with her neck over the rail. the next set of wheels decapitated her. I wondered for a moment if a sheep could derail a train. Silly question.

The rest of the sheep had turned around, thinking maybe their leader had found a better place to be. But they saw her body quivering, and it just did not look right, so this made them pause...just long enough for the last car to pass, and then the whole lot were back onto the tracks in a heartbeat. I walked over to the quivering sheep, I wanted to know who she was. She was wearing a bell, yes, the ewe that led this little flock on this dangerous escapade was my escape artist. I guess that problem was solved now.

Janet McNally
Tamarack Prolific and Ile de France crosses

Peg Haese

Re: Jumpers

Postby Peg Haese » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:53 pm

If you go to Janet's website, http://www.tamaracksheep.com and select "Guardians" on the menu, go to the bottom and read the link at "Ode to Chip, my favorite Border Collie." There are some photos of Chip there. Wonderful dog.

Janet, wasn't Chip from George Rodgerson? I am wondering about her birth date and parents and if she was related to our Mac.

Bill Fosher
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Location: Westmoreland, NH

Re: Jumpers

Postby Bill Fosher » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:07 pm

I'll archive it this time.
Bill Fosher
Westmoreland, NH

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