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Amanda Elsdon-Dew
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Joined: 10 Sep 2014
Posts: 411
Location: Ockley,

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:36 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Nearly finished! I can't edit anything because I am so aware that any second I will lose all that I am laboriously typing.. . so - just to explain in case anyone has bothered to read - what I am describing is quite a process with Dinah and her herding and all seems to depend upon understanding how she understands her role, as she clearly sees it, and working with her, and - which is what I find so hard - working out when to trust her since of course hens are rather more fragile than sheep and cattle! And she has had no dog to learn from (Brion took no interest in hens at all) and I am no expert either. And she began from trying purely to catch and kill the hens, hence my reluctance to allow her too much independence in her herding. Now she definitely sees them as hers to protect and organise and shows no sign of wanting to hurt them at all. What I find hard to believe and also fascinating is that she has managed to work out what to do. She needs to get them moving, hence the pouncing (and our hens don't like to be bossed, much preferring to come to a call then to be driven from behind) but if she pounces too much they flap and fluster, so I really do think that she has been perfecting her technique - even with me tending to panic if I think she might hurt them. Today was a total triumph but I have noticed that she is getting gentler and steadier in her herding of them, and of course previous pouncings have taught them respect for her. She also seems to distinguish between their normal enclosure (we have an upper and a lower garden and until recently they were only allowed in the lower one), where she would consider it her job to put them to bed at all times because of course she normally only came in there with me if that was the reason for that. If I also chose to garden, why should Dinah understand that? Surely, I had forgotten that they should be going to bed? So off they went. Our upper garden is always out of bounds to hens as we see it but it does seem that Dinah takes a different view there. That area of our garden is not within the old fenced hen area (which is basically our kitchen garden - I am a keen gardener and like to use the hens for slug catching and manuring) but is a very rough patch of lawn which my husband and sons like to call the 'croquet lawn' - ho hum!!! - and so why does Dinah ignore the hens if they trespass there? I dare to think that that may be because she has no obvious job to do there. this is clearly not the hen enclosure and they are now part of her family, and not prey at all, so why should she bother them, unless I appear, and then she knows from experience that I begin to flap and say ,'Dinahhhh, gentlyyy', and she really does seem to humour me by looking at me calmly and just watching as I catch the hen. Or is this all totally fanciful?? As I say, my husband and sons are not yet convinced!

Brion's Mrs
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