Monday, March 20, 2023

Even an Old Guy Can Learn to Adapt


Well I have learned my lesson. It's been cold and rainy here for the last four days until late afternoon today and I was hoping it had dried up enough I could get a newer bale of hay out to the sheep. I have some older hay out there they can get to and they haven't touched the remains of the last bales I took out for them back in February either. I took three bales out to them then and they stood next to em and ate em almost all the way gone until it got warm then they stopped. 

I am pretty sure from looking around and with three of the four pastures (plus the two now no longer needed Ram pens) totally open to them there is more than enough new growth to keep em full. Of course full to a sheep is relative but none of them look even remotely thin except Lilly and she always looks thin this time of year. Plus I still give em more grain per head than they have ever gotten in their lives before retirement set in.

The problem is I have plenty of hay and I might as well give em another bale just to ease my mind. Except I am finding out something new. It is not as easy to do by myself as it has been up until now. Six of these remaining old girls have been around a long time as I have mentioned before but what I did not count on is now instead of a few calm sheep outnumbered by a couple dozen skittish ones I now have a flock of old experienced ones that are not too fazed by the tractor and they are on to my old tricks plus now have access to everywhere I need to go.

To top this scenario off they have also worked out an early warning system with the Goats and like an idiot I decided in my boundless wisdom to move the hay moving tractor to the pasture side entrance of the barn.  

In the late Spring or Summer the girls would be so used to me being outside they wouldn't notice a lot of this but since it's cold. muddy, windy and overcast when I come out now it usually means good times if you are a sheep I guess.

I tried sneaking out three times today while the girls were out in the pasture and every time the Goats alerted em to my movements and the sheep beat me to every gate I tried to close to lock em up out of the way. When I tried to pull the tractor out of the barn they stampeded into it and ran around like idiots refusing to come out as I waddled around trying to chase em. Which was Rita's cue to begin head butting me to her delight.

Rita, if you don't remember is my mother's old bottle baby and she is a nightmare. I have to watch her closer than a mean ram or she will headbutt me every chance she gets. Not hard according to sheep standards but hard enough to hurt. Plus knock me down if she catches me unaware. A few years ago I would just grab her before she got to me and put her down like I was going to shear her and she would keep her distance for a good while before coming back but these days I almost have to go take a nap after wrestling her around now. Plus she has gotten faster and more experienced while I just keep slowing down.

I am going to have to adjust the way I have been doing things for years around here and allowing complete sheep access plus not using the barn yard tractor door from the barn is another thing to that needs adjusting that I did not think about until now. Without my son's experience of moving sheep I am just not fast enough to keep the few we have left in line. 

I finally got the tractor out and moved up to the gate to go out and get a bale and they all gathered in front of the gate just hoping I would open it for them. I gave em a full grain feeding and they still had it pretty much gobbled up before I could get the gate opened and back on the tractor so I had to jump down and close it before they got to it. Not even the tractor noise bothers em any more. 

I then left the tractor sit and went inside to allow the girls to go back out into the fields. I watched from the window until they had wandered way off as far to the east as they could go and tried to sneak out again and either close that gate locking them in the East pasture or bring the tractor out at least. They couldn't see or her me due to the angle with the barn in the way too. 

They may not be able to hear me but they sure can hear the three goats bleating and hoping they are going to get fed AGAIN though. 

Sure enough here they all came so I finally fed em again and put the tractor back up. If I leave it out where they can get to it they will chew the wires off that they can get to or steal the hydraulic dip stick off the side.

Don't ask me how I know this it is an unpleasant memory...

So new rules for me.

1. Never allow full access to all pastures at once. The ability to bribe em with a new field to explore is an important trick to have when needed.  

2. Don't use that barn lot door unless you can easily move the girls anytime you need to on a moments notice.

3. Instead of using one single group of grain feeders put out two in different places that can be closed off when needed.

4. Send Rita to market. (Just kidding)

This entire Fall and Winter has been a long term adjusting, learning and adapting experience for me but eventually I will get used to these new operating procedures. This was so much easier when I had 50+ skeered young sheep that ran away from me or an extra experienced sheep mover to help but this is a new experience for me and the sheep.


Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!



  1. Sorry buddy but as a medic I STRONGLY suggest you process that butt ramming sheep.

    It's all fun and games until your hips shattered and you're lying in a cold muddy field slowly dying of exposure.

    As EMS I've responded to such a scene, happily someone noticed the old Man was not at breakfast and they called us in before he died.

    1. Michael - She hasn't caught me yet. I keep an eye on her close and she knows if I have eye contact she will go down but she is trying to figure a way to get out of my jaw raise move. To be honest I figured she would be over this by now at her age and so totally absorbed with food and too busy too try and play, not the first one like her I have dealt with. The old whether we have that is as big as a steer was once like her and he finally grew out of it.

    2. Please keep the cell phone (you DO have good coverage, yes?) in your pocket with 911 on speed dial then, my friend.

      When the neighbor we picked up out of the cold muck was found he KNEW that HIS sheep wouldn't break his hip.

      Most expensive Mutton known, nearly buried him as hypothermia was near.

  2. It is not often a shepherd is outsmarted by his sheep. As a retired shepherd, I can attest to the hurt a sheep can inflict. Michael is right. Get rid of Rita before she gets rid of you

    1. Tewshooz - I would say it's more accurate to say I outsmarted myself by allowing them unrestrained access to everywhere. There is a reason I never did it before but I thought since I was down to 10 I could handle it now. I was wrong. These girls are experienced and they know exactly which areas they need to access for what they want. Rita though is a special case, she hates it when I put her in shear position but she is determined to get passed it and keeps trying. I certainly thought she would be past it by now at her age.

  3. Replies
    1. Anon - Rita would love a dog. She still thinks she is a dog I think rather than a sheep. Not that a good sheep dog wouldn't be able to handle her but the few that have tried around the area always get confused when she tries to play with them. She tries to play with my greatdane until he gets scared of her. Part of her problem is too that she is physically probably the leader of the flock now due to age and size whereas before there were always a few above her in pecking order.


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