Thursday, November 6, 2014
Moving Sheep Part 1 : The Rams Revenge
Today was the most dreaded day of the year. Sheep moving day. The reason it is such a lousy day is because of my hard headed parents more than anything else.
My Dear Mother, who started this whole Sheep business to begin with, is afraid of even the little ones and my hard headed Step Dad is simply a hammer with every problem being a nail.
You would think they would get the hint when I had all the Ewes from my cutting crew already separated and in with their respective Rams before they even got here this morning. Yet they don't bother to ask themselves how it is I can get eight Ewes where they need to go all by myself but yet when we have to do things their way it's mass chaos with three of us.
Even still slowly over the years they have kinda begun to listening to me. The secret is to work smarter not harder and to know once you get a particular Ewe worked up just leave her be for a while. She will come around. The other secret is to treat the entire flock like one big animal that you have to take small bites out of. It's easier to sort three or four at a time than it is two dozen.
The other problem is the Sheep from the Summer pasture don't know me and don't particularly trust me either. This is important with Sheep. If they trust you you can almost get em to do about anything, especially if they think you have a treat or some grain in your hand or pocket.
As I said the day started off nicely. I got the three Ewes that go with the Blue Faced Ram in one stall together and left the five that go with the Mule Ram in the center of the barn. I walked around to the front of the Mule Ram's pen gave him some grain then went to the back by the gate leading the first batch of Ewes with more grain. Repeat with the one's in the stall going to the Blue face and I was done in about 10 minutes.
This was the Ram revenge part however. Those Rams have been teased and rejected through their fences for months now and it was time to show the ladies who is really in charge. Lamar and Frazer (That's the Ram's names) wasted no time selecting their first targets and began running em around a bit. A couple of times the Ewes looked at me like I had betrayed them too.
Then it was off with the stock trailer to the Summer pasture down at my parent's house. Even this step went relatively painless at first. We managed to cram all but about seven of the flock in before the stock trailer was full to the brim. We got almost all of the yearlings but there were still four breeding Ewes left for the second run.
This is where my work smarter idea comes into play. Instead of trying to run this flock of thirty some-odd sheep around I recommended putting them out in the pasture the cutting crew had been using with the two remaining Wethers who know the drill. This way when I shake a feed can the wethers come running and they drag all the rest with them to the back of the barn where I selectively let in a few at a time for sorting.
Well even this step went well and in next to no time I had four more breeding Ewes with one Ram and three more with the other. It's a series of gates really. The Ewes come into the barn center, each paddock has a stall attached with a gate inside and outside. I close the outside gate run a ewe into the stall, close the inside gate and then open the outside gate. Once they see the sheep outside they run to join em.
Now things began to decline rapidly however. The remaining Ewes and yearlings in the Summer pasture got out and raided the grain bin that someone (cough cough not me) had left the top open on. They didn't get much but enough that grain was no longer much of a bribe. They were also scared now that all the others were gone. Finally we just decided to leave em be and try and catch em tomorrow.
Meanwhile the yearlings up at the barn started looking for ways to get in the Ram pens with their Mommas. The fact that the Mommas were encouraging this didn't help and sure enough they found a spot were two panels come together and the bottom wire had snapped and three of them got in with Frazer.
Now I had a problem because Frazer gets downright protective once you put Ewes in with him.
It was monkey with a stick time. Frazer respects the monkey with a stick. Barely. As it turned out I got in a tight space with him and he gave me a little charge where he knew I couldn't bring the stick into effective play and damned near broke my finger when it got caught between the barn and his head.
However I am used to Frazer and his masculine posturing and I put a special gate in his paddock a few years back. A little grain in the front to take his attention off me and I closed him up on one side and the Ewes and wayward yearlings on the other. The fun part was grabbing the yearlings and carrying them out the gate one at a time. I pulled a muscle in my shoulder doing this.
Another cool thing about sheep. If you get their hooves off the ground they stop struggling for the most part. Also as most Scotsmen can tell you, once you get a handful of wool the battle is mostly over. I just hope the little buggers don't find another way in with mommy now.
So day one resulted in about 90% of the Ewe's sorted. There are only two critters on this entire farm happy tonight. The damned Rams. The yearlings are confused and afraid and want their mommies, The Ewes are either pissed they are not in the pasture and being harassed by the Rams, or both, and a few are downright upset their lambs are not with them too. My shoulder and finger hurt so bad I am thinking about butchering Frazer and we still have three Ewes and two yearlings in the Summer pasture to move tomorrow.
I must say though all in all this move went better than prior years. A few more fenced in areas and gates and I may have sorting day figured out.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!