MONMOUTH — Nuala, like all “teenagers,” doesn’t always listen as well as she might, especially surrounded by all the sights, sounds and scents of the Monmouth Fairgrounds.

But fortunately, the 3-year-old border collie, there with her owner, Joe Grady, and six sheep to demonstrate sheep dog herding Saturday, herds more by instinct than by oral commands.

“I didn’t teach her this. All I did was help shape her instincts,” said Grady, who brought Nuala and the sheep to the 107th annual Monmouth Fair from his family’s farm, Two Coves Farm, in Harpswell, where there are around 80 sheep and three border collies. “All I am doing is telling her when to start doing her job and stop doing her job.”

That last part, telling her to stop doing her job, is important. Grady said border collies such as Nuala are so focused and obsessed with doing whatever it is their job may be — in Nuala’s case, that’s herding sheep — that they’d keep doing past the point of exhaustion if left to make their own decisions. He said Nuala, mostly black except for a necklace-like band of white around her neck and two white front paws, could overheat in the sun while herding sheep if not directed to cool off occasionally.

Grady then demonstrated by giving Nuala the command to leave the sheep to get a drink of water. She took it a step further by running across the show ring and jumping entirely into the water container, curling up inside the large bucket to cool off.

Grady said Nuala’s goal is to keep the sheep between her and Grady. She did so by crouching on the ground and staring at the sheep, creeping low to the ground to prompt them to move one way or the other. She also ran circles around the sheep, containing them near Grady. He said whether there are six sheep, or 60 or even 100, Nuala can bring them to him.

At first Grady left the six sheep, and Nuala, more or less to themselves in the show ring of the fairgrounds, as a crowd of about 50 spectators, many of them children, began to gather before the scheduled start of the sheep dog demonstration.

“What we’re trying to do right now is acclimate, because we’re in a new spot,” the Harpswell farmer said. “We just got pulled off our pasture, where we were with all our friends; and now we’re here at the Monmouth Fair.”

Other critters at the Monmouth Fair over its four-day run, which wrapped up Saturday, included steers and oxen; adult pigs as well as piglets, for the pig scrambles, and horses — both massive ones pulling logs and stone weights, and mini-horses, which also pulled wooden sleds covered with stone weights, just much lighter stones than the bigger horses.

Bob Dennett, a fair trustee, said the Cochnewagan Agricultural Association’s annual fair got off to a bit of a slow start this year, with sometimes-stifling heat the first couple of days; but he said Friday the fair was well-attended. A good-size crowd seemed to be on the fairgrounds Saturday, too, with more expected for Saturday night’s Red Neck Truck Pull, which drew large, enthusiastic crowds last year, the first year of the event at the fair.

New this year was mini-tractor pulling, on Friday, in which contestants rode lawn-mower-sized tractors instead of the much larger tractors usually featured in pulling events, and attempted to pull similarly downsized versions of weighted sleds the farthest down a dirt track.

“We try to bring in new events, keep things interesting,” Dennett said.

Just in front of the pulling ring, Conjuring Carroll held court Saturday afternoon, making balloon animals for a crowd of a couple dozen children.

While blowing up and twisting and turning multiple balloons together to make what was later revealed to be a balloon mosquito with big bulging eyes, one of the balloons that was to become one of the eyes slipped out of the entertainer’s hands. He quickly noted, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”

Midway rides were provided by Kavanaugh Amusements and vendors offered everything from chicken wings and stone-fired pizza to hot tubs and cowboy hats.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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