Nagoonberry

This world. This place. This life.

Herding with Brady

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Throughout this past winter, most Saturdays you would find Brady and me herding sheep in Wasilla at Sunset Acres Farm. This photo was taken last summer, when it was actually hot enough to wear a t-shirt! Right now around here we’re beginning to think it will never be spring, let alone summer.
Learning to herd sheep with a dog is a difficult skill, and perhaps even a spiritual discipline. It teaches humility, patience, consciousness–yep, sounds like a spiritual discipline to me.
In this photo, Brady is coming to the head of the small group of sheep, something he’s not really supposed to do. So he’s learning where to be, and I’m learning how to tell him where to be.
Herding can be frustrating and funny all at the same time. When the Brady’s barking and running circles around the sheep, and the sheep are pushing past me and through me. When Suzanne is yelling commands to me across the arena, and my brain is sure that she’s speaking French. When Suzanne takes over with Brady and through her expertise and confidence he turns into a little herding angel.
So why do Brady & I go to herding lessons? First and foremost, because “a tired dog is a good dog.” And because he loves it, and was bred to do it–it’s in his genes. But also because it’s an ancient skill, and we’re losing ancient skills as quickly as we are endangered species. It’s good exercise. It forces me to connect with the physical world, something this daydreamer needs to do. It is, as Martha says, a good thing.
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