Moving the Sheep
The main road through town guts our property – which makes moving sheep from pasture to pasture quite challenging. Owning a two horse slant load trailer makes loading and unloading large quantities of sheep challenging too, being that it doesn’t allow us to haul large amounts at one time. Also, catching large quantities of sheep (without a sheep dog!) is another challenge… All this adds up to my Hubby’s “crazy” idea of pushing the sheep from one gate to another across the main road. I initially thought it was a disaster waiting to happen but we tried it for the first time last fall when we moved Lancelot’s breeding group from their small pasture back to the large one which is opposite the road from our house. The breeding group moved as planned and we were pleasantly surprised at how well it went, which inspired this year’s large attempt at moving the whole flock of ewes and lambs from the large pasture across the road to the smaller one by the house.
The gate to the right in the above photo is where we were taking the sheep out of. The driveway for the house and shop are directly across the road from the gate, but I wanted the sheep to run down the road about 100′ to the gate just past the hedge in front of the house. My quad is there on the left of the photo, just off the road. I used the quad to round up the sheep (quad = food, to the sheep), with a fresh bag of grain on the back for an enticing smell and a white bucket in my hand filled with grain for added interest — they followed me out the gate and down the road and into the pasture by the house. Unfortunately, my sheep have cliques and while one batch followed me, the other chose a different leader and came in the driveway. I had to turn around, jump off the quad and try and get the other girls to look at the grain I had in the bucket, which quickly revealed to me that all the “piggies” were in the pasture and the independent thinkers were out checking out the parking area. All of a sudden the sheep saw my bottle lambs and the rams in a pasture to the left of the driveway and they ran in to a small fenced area where I keep my hay. Thankfully the gate was open and they all charged in, not balking a bit. We quickly closed the gate on them! They were contained for a moment, albiet in the wrong spot but atleast across the road. Not one car came by while they were crossing.
A new game plan was being hashed out by the humans involved in this great sheep migration, meanwhile Chamomile and several other lambs had their turn at climbing the few hay bales I have left. The rams were certainly excited to have these pretty neighbors all of a sudden, but they kept their cool and weren’t causing any further trouble. Meanwhile, we decided that we’d have to run the sheep down the left side of the shop toward the back where a future pasture awaits fencing. We’d have to divert the girls and head them toward the pasture they’re supposed to be in, without them bolting past the shop or house and back out on the road. Hubby’s shop employees all lined up their vehicles with cattle panels between to keep a sort of fence up. Meanwhile people were stationed here and there to keep the sheep moving in the correct way.
During all this planning and moving of “fencing materials” one of my hens, Lacey, decided to do her morning duty and squeeze through the fence to go lay her egg in the hay — she quickly decided that she had made a foolish decision and made her way back in to the chicken pen with several sheep noses smelling her hind end, escorting her out.
So we finally swung the gate open and playing the pied piper, I set out with my grain bucket. My bottle lambs, Jasmine and Archie, really helped me get the girls moving. They followed the freshly mown path down to the large gate of the pasture, past all the vehicles and cattle panels. It worked like a charm!
From what all the boys of the shop said, it was pretty neat looking seeing a tight clump of sheep following down the path in to the pasture. We had a few stragglers I had to go back and coax in, using my trusty bottle lambs once more. But we got every sheep in and without much trouble at all. So thankful for that!
I’m amazed at how a much smaller pasture such as this one has swallowed up the sheep. They are loving the grass and I’m enjoying having them so close to the house.
Taking photos of individuals is much easier in a smaller area, though the sheep’s personal bubbles are still pretty large. The nice thing about having them in here is that with time I’ll be able to move amongst them a lot easier with them getting less and less flighty.
And shooting photos off my deck seems like the lazy man’s way of photo taking. :) I’m enjoying it!