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Counting Down

We gathered all the ewes and moved them into the barn today — twice.  The weather has been every kind of wet imaginable so we decided to get the ewes under cover in preparation for shearing on Saturday.  Moving them from their winter digs into the big barn (some distance away) isn’t that much of a big deal but it does take some planning.  We’ve done this many times so we just went about our business and everything went fairly well…a couple of stragglers needed to be rounded up but hey! we weren’t complaining. It wasn’t actively raining and there was a nice gentle breeze so we left the barn doors open to give the sheep some natural light and fresh air.  Into the house we went to get on with other things (like posting here).

I was in the kitchen and thought I heard baa-ing so I looked out only to see the back end of a bunch of sheep rounding the corner of the barn and heading for who knows where.  My attention turned to the pen just inside the open barn doors — the EMPTY pen!  At this time of year, every tiny blade of grass is a sheep delicacy.  They’ll go to any extent to find it and devour it.  Because there isn’t much out there, they tend to spread out, keep moving and go into some sort of grass trance.  It’s not so easy to get their attention and about the last thing they want to do is go back into the boring barn.  Well, we managed to get them back into their winter paddock and began to rethink how we would move them…again.  We couldn’t imagine how they’d escaped so we went to the barn to see what we could find there.  It turned out that they’d pushed the panels beyond the floor of the barn where the doors were open.  That 3 inch drop from the floor to the driveway was just enough to unhook the panels where they were joined.  Note to ourselves: close the doors or tie the panels so they can’t come apart.

One thing we’ve learned over the years is that you very often get 1 shot at maneuvering sheep.  Once they know what you’re up to, they’re less likely to cooperate.  We put up a bunch of flexible fence to keep them moving in the right direction and prayed that they would respect it eventho it wasn’t powered.  This is not a recommended use of flexible fence. Do not try this at home!  We also rigged up a temporary gate arrangement to close behind them so they couldn’t change their minds about going into the pen once they realized what we had in mind for them.  It worked!  The sheep are in the barn, the panels are tied, the doors are closed…two days and counting.

So where was Skye the wonder dog throughout all this?  The truth is that Skye isn’t good at moving sheep in tight quarters and we’re even less good at keeping Skye under control in tight quarters.  It’s unlikely that either of us will be learning new tricks anytime soon so we just let him stay in the house when we do this sort of thing and everybody’s alot happier in the end.

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