Nothing more dramatically improved the sustainability of our farm than the addition of our border collie Mac. We'd seen border collies work at farm demonstrations. And then there's the movie Babe, which planted the idea, as Farmer Hoggit would say; "That wiggled and tickled and wouldn't let go."
Handling our livestock on the average day at Blue rooster Farm is a no brainer. In fact, there's not much handling. We open a new paddock of grass and the critters willingly go in. We move their water supply. We watch them graze.
But there are also the non-average days. The day we pen up moms and babies to put in ear tags, dock lamb tails, and pinch bull calves (yes, it's a euphemism!). The days we bring animals in to sort off those whose time has come. It is on days like this that Mac shines (well, he often gets really dirty, but you get the point!).
Nothing in our farming experience has been more amazing than watching Mac respond to his innate herding instincts. We knew little about training a herding dog. But just as his breeder, Jack Monsour predicted; "Long as you have some basic stock sense yourself, a well bred border collie should be able to train you. To get the job done for basic work on a farm, there's very little training needed." He was right. By eight months old, Mac was penning our flock of ewes into our barn and working corral, a task that always brought out the worst in both of us adult humans! By a year old, he could pen up the feeder cows and heifers, though we cringed watching him ducking in under their flying heels.
While anyone steeped in stock dog lore would quickly recognize that both dog and handlers on Blue Rooster farm are still utter novices the fact remains that tasks which previously required careful logistical planning and intense stress to our marriage, are now often reduced to one person observing fifteen or twenty-minutes of intense, canine joy.