A few men, a few dogs, and a job to do

Thursday, March 9

Reg and I are on Midland Road, returning to camp from the laundromat in Blythe, when we come upon a refuse truck stopped in the road and . . .  what’s that up ahead? . . .

“Sheep!”

I ease the Perfect Tow Vehicle forward, not wanting to startle the flock.

I pull over and park on the shoulder.  I bring down the window and begin taking photos .

A border collie dashes in front of the truck on his way to gather up stragglers (right edge of photo).

Three sheepherders and the border collie move the flock off the main road onto a side road to the left.  A truck pulling a livestock trailer arrives and helps push the flock forward.

Everything happens very quickly.

No time to frame a photo perfectly.  I just snap away in hopes of catching all the action.

A splash of white catches my eye . . . Two Great Pyrenees have been cooling off in the irrigation canal.  It’s late morning and the word is that temperatures will reach close to 90 degrees today..

Herding sheep is hot work!

By the time they both make their way up out of the ditch, I realize they are mature dogs.

They both hesitate, letting the border collie do the herding. 

(Note:  A reader tells me the Great Pyrenees’ job is to guard the sheep.  They have an important job,  Coyotes howl every night around here and I did see some casualties a few weeks ago, before I saw any Great Pyrenees.  I haven’t seen any casualties recently.)

I take the opportunity to capture one of them in a noble pose.

In the next photo (bad composition, but there was no time to move the PTV), the border collie darts into the ditch to cool off.  He appears to be jumping onto the Great Pyrenees’ head — photo bomb!

The sheepherder carries a lasso and a bright blue, plastic bag.

Not sure what the bag is for.  He waves it to keep the sheep moving.  Maybe that’s its purpose.

A second dog — another border collie? — walks beside the man.

This one must have been working the flock from the other side where I didn’t see him.

A sheepherder shouts a command and the border collie, the one doing most of the work, rushes up out of a ditch, having chased another straggler.  He’s muddy from the irrigation canal.

He wastes no time going to the other side of the herd.

The sheep are moving along nicely now, both on the side road and on the raised, dirt berm running parallel to it.

A job well done!

Friday, March 10

Reg and I are on our way into town again.  I have an empty propane cylinder to have filled, plus we’ll stop at the vending machine to fill empty jugs with water.

I take a different route than yesterday.

“Oh, look, Reggie!  The sheep are in their new pasture!”

rvsue

DID YOU KNOW?

“A group of sheep is called a drove, flock or herd. A very large group of sheep is referred to as a band or mob.  To be termed “sheep,” the animal must be a year old and have produced offspring. A lamb is under a year old and has not produced offspring. A yearling is an animal that’s between one and two years old and has not produced offspring. A female sheep is called an ewe, and a male sheep is referred to as a ram. There are over a thousand sheep breeds worldwide . . . .” — reference.com

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79 Responses to A few men, a few dogs, and a job to do

  1. Laura - Illinois says:

    Love this! Love the photo’s!

  2. Linda from Oregon says:

    Wow, great pictures.

  3. Pam from Wisconsin says:

    Wow, such an amazing thing to see! Watching those dogs at work must have been really neat.

  4. Deena in Phoenix, AZ says:

    Love the Working Dog…beautiful photos and thanks for the info at the end…learned something new today

    Deena and Miss Mollie

  5. Kristi and Daisie (Nampa) says:

    Love watching herding dogs. Nice!

  6. millie says:

    First? Can’t be!!

    • millie says:

      Didn’t think so 🙂

      Great post though about those hard working herders. The Great Pyrenees are very regal. I wonder…are they an ancient breed?

      • Don in Okla. says:

        I’ve read that the Pyrenees are more guard dogs than herders. They stay with the herd to protect them.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Aha! Now what I saw makes sense! They had no interest in herding. Thanks for teaching me that, Don.

          Hmm… I might edit the post. Make it look like I knew that all along…Hahaha!

      • Rover Ronda (WA) says:

        There’s a pair of Pyrenees who live with a flock of sheep near us. It’s fun to try and find them out in the field; they blend in with the sheep. When my husband is driving I can usually spot them. When I’m driving I usually can’t find them unless they happen to be up and walking at the time.
        I may have found one in your picture above. Look straight down from the rear tire of the car parked in the carport. I’m not sure, it gets too blurry to identify when I enlarge the photo on my touch screen. I’m sure they are in that field somewhere.
        Any blogorinos in this area wanting to spot them: Old Snohomish Monroe Hwy east of Short School Rd. The speed limit is 40 & many go 50 so you have to look fast. No public shoulder to pull off on. I didn’t mean to intrude on there property but once I just happened to need to turn around there. The dogs were very upset when I backed into a gravel farm road near their field. Even though I think it belongs to the tree/flower farm next door it’s still “their turf”.

        • Renee from Idaho says:

          We’ve boondocks many times up in the Sawtooths. On one weekend, we woke up to find a herd of sheep near us and two Pyrenees laying down near our camp. Having two dogs, we waited to go out because we know the Pyrenees are guarders and would see our dogs as a threat to the heard. They moved on shortly so we then went out, but it was interesting.

  7. Stephanie Albany OR says:

    My Toby would be chasing the sheep but not in a constructive manner. Too small to hurt them but it would be his macho emerging. He’d have to give them a piece of his mind. Great photos and blow-by-blow. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Barb from Illinois says:

    Cool that you got to see this. I remember once traveling east out of Grand Teton National Park heading back toward the Black Hills and running into cowboys on horseback herding cattle down the road. They also had their cattle dogs working to keep the herd moving. Watching dogs herd sheep or cattle is amazing.

  9. Geri, Florida panhandle! says:

    So much fun to see! But my favorite image is seeing Reggie double! Been a long time since we saw him reflected in the side mirror, I missed it! Have fun Sue! We love y’all!

  10. Patti Durkin says:

    First?

  11. Patti Durkin says:

    Did not scroll down. Thought I was first!! Ha!
    Luv the double Reggie pic!

  12. sally s jacob says:

    Love sheep! Raised them for show in 4-H as a kid… hated the part where we sold them at the end of the fair for auction. After 2 years I could not do it any more… too attached and not worth it in my book. Now enjoy them on the hoof like your post- and eat very little lamb ever! Thanks for the awesome memories! Great pictures too!

  13. Judy in East Texas says:

    Hi Sue and Reggie…..glad you enjoyed the moving of the sheep…..my Donald is a retired working border collie. He’s now my travel campion whiskey just dreams of herding. He does wander around the cattle on my Farm.
    Are you getting ready for the big move up north? Can’t wait to see where you end up.

    Stay safe out there my friend, judy

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m trying not to rush the season. I thought I’d race out of here to beat this heat wave. Then I discover that it’s really quite nice in the morning and late in the day. During the hottest part of the day I lie down with Reggie and a book and a fan keeps us comfortable.

  14. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    #1?!

  15. Bud (N E Washington) says:

    I heard about the ram that fell off the cliff because he didn’t see the “ewe” turn. I have a neighbor who has a herd of sheep and trains border collies with them. She will be out with the dogs as soon as the snow melts.

  16. Wow , that’s a great post and great photos and great education of the mob moving forward off the road, Sue,, we are camped at a free BLM camp south of the town of Wickenburg on Vulture Mine road, yes I found it and it’s beautiful here, there’s a lot of blumeing Chola and campers from all over,, we’ll be here for awhile and I’m going to fix the front wheel bearings tomorrow morning and grease everything else,,,, have a great weekend and stay safe and give Reggieman a huge hug from us,,,,,,, 🐾👣👣

    • cc and canine ( now in Oregon) says:

      It’s good to hear from you Rusty! Sounds like a nice spot to boondock…I think RVSue was there a few years back. Good luck with the wheel bearing job.
      Our dog, Guinncess, sends his best to Lady Piper…

      • Hi CC, well I didn’t hav to replace the bearing on the right side, it was just lose, so I repacked them and put a new seal and tightened it up right and I’m done, 3 hours, started at 0730,,, just saw our first Rattlesnake for the year, a 4 footer with a good set of beads on it,, it’s about 100 ft. away from our camp just off the road,,,, Piper says hi too,,,,,,🐾 👣👣

        • Well Sue and all, there has bee sightings of more Rattlesnakes and 2 were Green Mohaves , they are very aggressive, they will chase you and one lady jumped at the right time, cause she heard a rattle and looked and the snake was in the strike mode,, this is the first time in my life to see so many in one day, so we’re moving up Bumblebee way in the morn at dawn,,, be careful with Reggieman and yourself, the snakes are early this season,,,,, Rusty n Piper 🐾👣👣

  17. Don in Okla. says:

    I have a big ol Border Collie as my best buddy. He walks me every evening here in town and is a great friend. Wish I could get him around some sheep some time to see what he would do. I found him about 5 years ago sitting on a neighborhood curb, lost and alone. I finally found his owner and also found out he was a victim of abuse so I kept him and he is a “happy camper” now!!

    • Pat from Mich. says:

      Good for you! I can’t stand people who would abuse an animal.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Our last dog was mostly Blue Heeler…but she was 1/8th Border Collie…herding was just in her… but she adjusted to town life too. The best pet we ever had and the most intelligent. Lovely personalities…you are fortunate to have found one…and kept the dear thing from the abusers!!

    • Rover Ronda (WA) says:

      Oh good job Don, nice story. I’m so glad he’s a happy camper now!

  18. Lee J in Northern California says:

    My sister has a Great Pyrenees. Wllie. He is so sweet. I can put my hand on top of his head and spread my fingers and just barely touch each ear.
    Loved the photos today.

  19. Retiredcajunlady 'N Louisiana says:

    Sue, your ordinary drive turned into an extraordinary photo opportunity!! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. Glad your early mornings and evenings are cool and you are still enjoying your “home”. Have a great weekend! Belly rubs and hugs and ear scratches for ReggieMan, and prayers for you both!

  20. Virginia620 (AL) says:

    Yoy keep me coming back for more. Great pics….again. love the infom too. Hugs to both, 🙄

  21. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    Hi, Sue!

    I just caught up reading the past few blogs and comments. The post with the desert flowers was beautiful! It was fun trying to identify them. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Delbert…oh, yes! I remember him…many wives, kids, and grandkids – wowza! I am glad that his dream of selling the park and hitting the road came to fruition. Reggie sure had fun zooming around with his lookalike buddy! 🙂

    How cool that you and Reggie were in the right spot at the right time to see the sheep dogs at work. Amazing!

    After a very hectic week of work, I am pooped out! Gracie pup was equally exhausted – we both climbed into bed extremely early tonight…I hope to be falling asleep in short order. 🙂

    Early Tuesday morning, in the shadowy darkness before sunrise, I was in the kitchen (in the dark) filling Gracie’s water bowl at the kitchen sink. A bird was singing it’s heart out…he seemed to be close by as his song was very loud. I noticed some fluttering movement at the back door winow, which was lit by the porch light. At first I thought it was a huge moth. No! The bird was clinging to the screen of the storm door, peering into the kitchen as he sang! I told Gracie he was asking me to fill the feeders and put out some fresh water. I am still unsure as to who was visiting us that morning with his serenade. What a great start to the day! 🙂

    We have had crazy weather for the past few weeks. The flowering trees (Cleveland and Bradford Pears, Ornamental Peach, and Cherry) are all blooming almost a month early. My backyard is awash in soft, watercolored blooms. Temps will drop below freezing this weekend, and there is a chance of snow Sunday and Tuesday. Kooky, huh?!

    Have a good night, Sue. Sending you and Reggie love and hugs from me and Gracie pup! Thank you for letting us tag along! 🙂

    • Elizabeth says:

      Lovely start to your day, Denise!! Hubby so misses our place we lived 9 years in N.Carolina…there was a mockingbird who sang his heart out to us all the time there…I think they know every birdsong there is. We had some cds we played in the car while hubby was washing it in the driveway etc…and that bird sure let us know his favorites!! Funniest thing…and if we whistled to him, he would whistle back, changing our notes just a smidge…so fun!!

      • Denise - Richmond VA says:

        Hi Elizabeth!

        Yes, those mockingbirds are very talented! It is amazing to watch and listen to them go though their repertoire of songs!
        I hope you enjoy your weekend! 🙂

  22. Dave in Missouri. says:

    Wouldn’t have thought sheep would have been on the dessert

  23. suzette on TN says:

    Surely not first!

    • suzette in TN says:

      Now THATS funny. So FAR From first. But it sure looked like it in my email. LOL… loved the sheep…and the pups. Always love the pups.

  24. ValGal (westernWA) says:

    What a fun bit of excitement! I hope the Reg enjoyed watching them, too.

    Up here in the wet and cool PNW, it’s hard to imagine dogs needing to swim and near 90 degrees.

    Hope you are having a great evening!

  25. Joyce sutton says:

    My bungee cords made the list. Must have been a slow week.
    We had goats not sheep on our farm. They came with their own guard dog. Mo gets very hot in late summer and he preferred to nap in the cool of the barn near the small creek in the afternoon. He would round up the herd and make them nap too. It was funny to watch. He never bothered around the cows though. We a had a couple that considered dogs in the same bracket as coyotes. One cow in particular would do a search and destroy mission if one came inside the fence.

  26. My FIL raised sheep in UT. I guess you could I’ve been mobbed more than once…

    Thanks for the photos, it’s been a while I’ve had to chew any dust. As for the Border Collies… They are smart, with many proving to have a working vocabulary over over 1000 English words. One of if not the smartest dogs in the world – so you got to see some real pros in action – the dogs that is… : )

    Keep up the good work, looking forward to tomorrow’s photos.

  27. Pamelab says:

    Hi, Sue – I’m enjoying all your bird and animal photos! Interesting about the sheep and the different dogs that are used. I’ve seen some of those blue bags before, being used with sheep. It must help in the training.
    I love those desert flowers. What a treat and worth sticking around to enjoy.
    I’m still in the Houston area and finally over the flu. For a couple of days, I doubted my choice to fulltime, but as I felt better I realized it was just some anxiety from being so sick.
    Looking forward to doing some wandering eventually. Lose some weight and I might have knee surgery. After the recuperation the wandering will continue.
    Happy Travels to you and that sweet boy, Reggie.
    Pamelab in Houston for now.

  28. Linda Sand (Minnesota) says:

    Friends had a border collie. They were at an extended family gathering when they realized they hadn’t seen kids lately. Turned out the border collie had herded them together and was “guarding” them.

  29. Barbara from Camano says:

    Loved the story and the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Jo in OR says:

    Enjoyed this post so much. I love farm animals and of course, dogs…especially Reggie. Have a great weekend, all.

  31. Krystina says:

    Great post RVSue! I have a friend that had a Border Collie…smartest dog ever 🙂

  32. Sam in the Ozarks AR says:

    I always wait to read your blog until the coffee is ready. This one was so interesting, I forgot to drink my coffee. Keep on going, Sam

  33. Laurie in NC says:

    Love the pictures of the dogs working! We had a border collie when I was a kid and that dog herded us wherever we went. When we went to the beach he did not want any kids going in the water so we had to leave him at the house! When we played in the yard, he would run around keeping us together!

  34. Dawn in MI says:

    Well THAT was a lot of fun to watch! Thanks Sue!

  35. Eileen Dykeman says:

    Luv the pics!

  36. Kim says:

    I’ve just recently found and started reading my way through your blog. So inspiring…someday for me.

    I do believe that your herding dogs are Australian Shepherds based in part on their docked tails but also on their movement when herding and overall body morphology. I have a 15.5 yr old Aussie asleep at my feet. She loved to be put on sheep. Note: It gets even more confusing with BCs and Aussies as more Aussie breeders are no longer docking tails.

    • cc and canine ( now in Oregon) says:

      Welcome Kim! You are now a blogarino….There is a neat group of people here, commenting on Sue’s blog..There may be more than one Kim, so what part of the world are you from??

      • Kim in PA says:

        PA but we will head to UT for 6 months in July with a base in the Salt Lake City Area. We just got a T@B trailer that we are bring with us rather than tenting all the time.

        • cc and canine ( now in Oregon) says:

          I think that you will really enjoy your time in Utah with the T@b. RVSue has spent lots of time over the last few years in Utah. By catching up on her blog, you should find lots of neat boondocks to check out. Having a trailer is sooo much better than tenting, and a small one can get into all of the more out of the way places.

  37. Nancy in California says:

    I love this sheep herding post!! A couple years back i rescued an elderly Great Pyrenees on the spur of the moment. An absolutely wonderful breed! He lived another 2 years with me in Venice, CA.
    German Shepherds are also herders. My first, who passed away in Dec, used to take sheep herding lessons at Drummond Ranch in Vincent, CA, near Acton. She LOVED it!! When my new little girl, also a German Shepherd, is 2, and bones and joints strong, I will take her also.
    Sue, in your travels I bet you have seen the flocks of sheep on both sides of the 395, in the Eastern Sierra. After Nevada was far too old to herd, we used to go fishing in the area, as late as ladt summer, and drive around searching for the sheep. She thrilled at the sight every time. She loved her sheep and your post brought many wonderful memories back!!
    Thanks also for the interesting info on sheep!!

  38. Mi says:

    Hello Everyone,

    Sue, this post made my eyes misty and my heart joyful. You see I was brought up on a ranch/farm in the Central Valley in California. One of my fondest childhood memories was visiting the camps of the Basque Shepards with my dad when the sheep grazed our land. There was always a warm welcome, a pot of stew and yummy bread baked in a Dutch oven. Night time visits were especially magical with a bit of music, a dark starry sky and occasional coyote choir. The language barrier desolved between people who loved the land and lifestyle. Though these memories are more than 50 years old–your post brought them back crystal clear–made my day. Happy trails!

  39. Rob, still in Pensacola today! says:

    Four working dogs, three men & a truck! Great pictures & homework on sheep.

    Reminds me of a time…Coming out of Yellowstone on the back side (SE side?) I saw a flat bed truck pull off the road next to a herd of sheep (not enough animals to be a band ). The driver whistled & two dogs jumped out & started herding the sheep. It was amazing to see for the first time.

  40. Terri from Texas says:

    Loved the post! I didn’t realize Aussies were black and white. Made me think of my sweet border collie named Sheila I had as a kid. She died when I was 21. 14 years old. I never had another dog until 5 years ago when we picked up our corgie/shepherd mix off the side of a road. Also made me think of my early ambition to be a sheep herder in Australia! I still intend to visit Australia one of these days! Very neat pictures of the herding. You sure know how to tell a story!
    Which of course is why I have been reading your blog for the past 5 years! Keep it up and stay safe!

  41. Pam Ridgely says:

    We lived in England for several years and saw a lot of sheep. (I always thought that the spring lambing season would be the time we would have an accident cause the babies are so cute to watch.) Did they use verbal commands or whistle? In England the commands are whistled, very interesting to watch.

    Thanks for the American version. Big hug to you and Reggie. I don’t post much, but so enjoy reading your blog. Hope one day maybe we might run into each other…..so I can see Reggie….lol

  42. Leslie says:

    Great post!
    by the way, I happened upon a story on accuweather’s site about wildflowers going nuts in a California desert because of the extra rain this winter. Perhaps that is affecting other deserts in the state too. You are lucky!
    http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/stunning-wildflower-super-bloom-illuminates-california-desert/70001090

  43. Always fun to watch herding dogs in action – they’re so smart! Nice to see the Pyrenees clipped for the hotter temps, but they lose some protection from those coyotes that way 🙁 It is fascinating to me that there are so many breeds of sheep. Like ducks, there’s a gazillion different ones. Great shot of your little home!

  44. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    Thank you to all of the blogorinos who have shared links regarding wildflowers in the past few posts. I have enjoyed reading each and every one of them! 🙂

  45. weather says:

    Great post, photos and story, Sue ! I really liked it, and learned a lot. Nope, I didn’t know, Ha!, most of what you included in that paragraph. It’s terrific that you were close enough to see all that happening on your way back from Blythe. You so often have such nice, and interesting, laundry days. Offhand I can think of several posts with those that I liked very much.

    My sister(she’s ten and a half years older than me) had some sheep when she lived on the side of a mountain. When I was thirteen I got to feed a lamb with a bottle during one of my overnight stays with her. He was so sweet, small and easy to love.The domesticated ones are such defenseless creatures. It’s wonderful to know that the ones you saw Thursday are well protected by dogs and people.

    Wow, even the irrigation canal has wildflowers growing beside it. What a great bloom your part of the desert is having this year. I imagine besides all the people that do, many birds and bees there are lovin’ life because of that. Meanwhile it’s 5 below zero here. A nearby city is having a St.Patrick’s Day parade and the crowd there to watch it is huge. Gotta love folks determined to enjoy themselves. I trust that you and Reggie are 🙂 . Thanks for helping me do the same with your blog.

  46. Diane Blue Ridge Mtns says:

    I so love border collies! I have had two. They were siblings and worked out cattle. Love watching them. The female Chris was my life companion. I miss her so much. Smartest dog I ever had. She could open doors and windows. Ha, and carry 6 pancakes in her mouth. On our last camping trip she buried a bone. After passing away, year later I took my new dog Baer to the same campsite. Baer found Chris’s bone. I guess that might be where the expression “passing the bone” might come from.

  47. Barbara (Nashville) says:

    Great post. I love the unusual & unexpected happenings of your travels. I could just imagine Reggie and Angel, for that matter, heading sheep. They would have them all over the place, then the border collies would really have some work to do. Ha Ha! Sorry, got myself tickled over that image.

    I need to get some things done around here, have a fun day.

  48. Val R. Lakefield Onario says:

    And to think I get excited just seeing wild turkeys on my way home from town.😊
    Glad you got to see the sheep and share such great pics.

  49. Lana in Phoenix says:

    Great post! I found the youtube video and thought it was really interesting. Hope you can pull it up.

    https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=bpjP3mxv21s

  50. Sunny says:

    Wow, quite a neat adventure, Sue! Did Reggie bark at them? I’m just wondering as I know Miss Izzy would have! She’s an alarm going off at the slightest strange sight. On the north side of Ajo, (which by the way, I am back there now for a few days before heading to Tucson for a few repairs) there are many donkeys that come into the area on a regular basis. I’m fortunate to get a couple pictures before she starts in. Love your pictures!!

  51. DesertGinger says:

    This is so interesting! Thanks Sue. I have been working a lot the past few weeks. I’m hoping it will lighten up a little soon. Other than that I’m enjoying my new car and return of warm weather.

    Hugs to all.

  52. MnDreamer says:

    It’s so interesting to see a photo essay showing a form of agriculture so different from that of the kind I see living in Minnesota. Thank you, Sue, and Reggie too, for presenting the amazing variety of life and work in our great country!

  53. Dawn in Asheville says:

    Freyja is part border collie and part aussie cattle dog. When we lived in Denver I took her out once to a woman who trained dogs for sheep herding. Freyja thought it was all great fun until the woman tapped her with the long stick when she tried to nip a sheep. Then she wouldn’t have anything to do with them. Went over the side of the fence and tried to herd the ducks instead. Unfortunately it was way too far out – an hour out of town and didn’t really have the funds and time to pursue that for her. Or any kind of agility. Always said, “maybe next year” when I have more time and more money. She has ended up being a house dog which I am sad about now that I see her slowing down. Didn’t get to fulfill her potential. I hope in her old age she will enjoy our traveling again at least 🙂 She always did love exploring new campgrounds.

  54. Wonderful photo journaling. Just beautiful. As others have said, not much is more fun than watching herding dogs at work. Plus, I loved seeing the Great Pyrenees doing their job. Anatolian Shepherds to the same guard work. I once did a story (when I worked as a reporter) on the Shepherds. I got a photo of 10 puppies lined up facing the camera. Wish I still had that photo. Anyway…great work Sue, thank you.

  55. Cynthia from San Clemente says:

    You didn’t tell us Reggie’s reaction to the sheep and the working dogs. Was he interested? Did he want out of the car to “help”?

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