Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sheepishly Speaking

As soon as we got to downtown Buffalo, I knew I would like it here.  After all, how many towns have a shop with a border collie mural by the front door?

Or a life-size sculpture of a dog herding sheep in the downtown park?  We feel right at home.

And those aren’t the only dogs (or sheep) around here.  Rue and I have been refreshing our herding skills with Wendy Auzqui.  Wendy and her husband, John, run both sheep and cattle on their ranch northeast of Buffalo near Clearmont, Wyoming.  Rue's only experience with cattle so far is with our cows at the farm, so we're concentrating on sheep.  

At first, Rue was a little intimidated (sheepish?).  The sheep with the sweet, white faces are Columbia Sheep.  This breed is one of the first developed in the United States, and was bred especially for the western ranges of the country.  Originally developed by breeding Lincoln rams with Rambouillet ewes, these sheep can be big.  Adult rams weigh between 275 and 400 pounds, and ewes from 175 to 300 pounds.  These ewes are young, so they may be a bit smaller, but at first Rue thought they were enormous!  

She took a couple of deep breaths when she first met them, but soon realized they were just sheep and that she could manage them.

Quite a bit smaller, but intimidating in another way are Wendy’s Jacob Sheep.  They are the black and spotted ones, and one of them has quite a set of horns.  An Old World breed, Jacob Sheep are thought to have originated in Syria, and can have up to six horns.  This fellow has four, and he can shake them with authority.

Rue and I also worked with Wendy last year when we were in the area, and we have enjoyed all our sessions with her.  Wendy is an excellent teacher/coach.  She has several dogs of her own, and not only uses them on the ranch, but competes successfully in both cattle and sheep trials. She is good with a camera as well, and took the photos of Rue and me working sheep. 

Yesterday we first worked with sets of 5 or 6 sheep…

then with a flock of 25 or so.  

While Rue and I worked, two of Wendy's dogs, Frank and Tony, waited eagerly for their turns.

Then, while we took a break, Wendy helped her niece and nephew, JoJo and Jace, try their luck at riding sheep.  

The sheep were less than thrilled, but Wendy's Tony corralled them for easier access.

After several tries, Jace finally got aboard one of the Jacob Sheep and had a short ride around the pen.  

Even little brother, Kade, got a chance to ride, but he was less enthusiastic than the sheep.  

It was a great morning, and we look forward to the rest our our lessons. 

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