Between the wild wintery weather and my somewhat dodgy ankle, I haven't been up to see the sheep for a week. It's so wet I nearly bogged the Polaris, so I've given up driving it for the time being. However, today augers well, so I'm heading up on foot for a half-day visit. I really have no idea where the flock will be, but given the persistent sou'west and westerlies of the past few days, and knowing their preference for the gully in the middle of the Basin Grazing Area, I'm expecting to find them there. I'll take a roundabout track, just to check the northeast end of the run, in case I'm wrong. I've really missed shepherding over the past week--missed spending time with the sheep--though I have to say the weather was not at all alluring, so it was a good week to choose to rest the ankle. My plan is to head to the Back Gully Reserve, and a bit of native vegetation foraging, with maybe a gorse chaser. The swans are still happily nest-sitting and simultaneously nest-building. I didn't realise in previous years that they continue to build the nest while sitting on the clutch. I'm inferring all of this from the continuous presence of one or the other on the nest, and watching him or her snake a long neck out to pull in nest material. I'm guessing the other partner brings the bullrushes and other useful structural bits up close to the nest, for the sitting swan to pull in. Fascinating. Learned behaviour? Hard-wired genetics? Whichever it is, it's marvellous the way animals are able to thrive if their environment is intact. (Note added later--after all, what else is there to do when you're tied to the nest all day, and knitting isn't an option?!)
END OF THE DAY NOTES: Boy, did I ever need a shepherding fix! The unstructured time, big sky, and slow-moving, contented animals bring back my perspective on life with a click that is almost audible. Not to mention, it was a glorious day--sunny, warm (well, relatively), moderate wind--in short, a nearly-forgotten pleasure of not fighting the elements just to stay approximately warm! Despite my conviction to the contrary, I had completely neglected to open the two gates between the Basin Paddock and the Grass Gully paddock, so for the last week the flock has been confined to the northeastern half of the Basin Grazing Area. They were at the top yards, as far into the wind as they could go, and were most pleased to see me rock up and start opening gates. There were a couple I knew I wanted to have a close look at, so I sifted them through the yards and on into the Grass Gully. Caught my two with tails that needed a bit of work, then let the whole flock graze happily across the fresh forage in the Grass Gully, through the Back Gully and into the Back Gully reserve. It was a doubly easy run, as they were heading into the wind and following their noses into fresh feed along the way. I left them heading to the spring in the Back Gully Reserve. The westerly winds may keep them there for a while, though the gates ARE now open back to the Basin and Old Cabin.
Video V1 above.
Video V2 above
Video V3 above