Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lambs can be so.... challenging.

It's a good thing that they're edible.

Now maybe that's mean.  We definately do not do enough handling of our sheep, especially the lambs for them to learn that people really are okay.  The adults have lost their edginess around us and the yearling mamas have begun to lose their edge too, although they are still at the back of the pack and a few tend to get left behind with the lambs sometimes.  Jacob sheep are known for their flightiness and difficulty in handling.  I don't knwo if it's just us or our particular group but they don't seem much flightier than any other group of sheep I've worked with.  Smarter, certainly but not any flightier, really.

Tomorrow morning, we were going to move our ewes and lambs into the next pasture over from where they were the past week.  There were several things that weren't quite right. 

1.  Somehow, last week while in the previous pasture that was next to the rams, one ewe and her two lambs (both males) got themselves into the ram pasture and couldn't get themselves back.  I'll have to be watching that one in mid-december for lambs.  Our rams have never been fertile this time of year before, too hot, but it's been much cooler lately... hmm. 

2. Goats weren't really supposed to be mixed with the ewes yet, but there they were.  Stubborn goats!

3. a couple of lambs had been making adventures somehow into another pasture in the old orchard. 

This time, when I went to check on sheep after market before going home for the evening, the lamb escapees couldn't figure out how to get back into the correct pasture with mum.  I'd have to convince them through a gate, relatively easy.  There were also some lambs already in the next pasture.  Well, I guess it'll be tonight while I've got light rather than tomorrow when I should be building the next fence for the next pasture.  While I'm at it, I might as well get the ewe out of the rams.  Because she has to males for lambs, I don't care if they stay or come with.  They stayed, this particular ewe is particularly un-flighty and loves people because people always bring grain.  I got her through the fence with little problem.  Getting her away from her lambs (still nursing some even though they are 5 1/2 months old!) was more challenging but grain solved the issue, the first time.  Second problem was getting her into the ewe group.

For some reason, in hoping that ALL the ewes and lambs would follow me and my grain bucket, I left the gate open enough to admit Sweetpea, my errant ewe, but most of the lambs and the alpacas and the goats decided the last pasture would be better.  The adult ewes went with me and I got them into the correct pasture.

Next step was retrieving everyone else.  Not too challenging except that SweetPea wanted to go back to her lambs, and the lambs and yearlings were confused because they could see their mothers on the other side of the fence of the old pasture.  I had to go all the way back across the pasture and start over and herd everyone back to the gate to their most recent pasture.  convincing the alpacas has so far been the most difficult but thye actually led the lambs through.  The goats had a mind of their own so I let them stay behind.  The alpacas impressed me by leading the lambs around and through a gate to get to the opening in the fence for the next pasture.  The lambs piled past them once they realized which pasture they were in since they'd been there before.  The poor alpacas nearly fell into the creekbed but quickly figured it out.

All I had left was the three individual goats.  Once I got them headed in the right direction and through the gate, all I had left to do was tie up the gate again and amost every difficulty had been fixed, about an hour after I began.  All I'll have to fix later is getting the two lambs out of the ram group but we'll be into breeding season before the first ones go to slaughter and I'll have to sort the rams then. 

I do love my sheep.

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