We switched out the adult sheep for the lambs on Sunday. It was more work than I expected it to be, but we got it done. Gosh sheep are dirty! The lanolin in their coats attracts dirt and when you pick them up or get in contact with them in any way, you end up a greasy, filthy mess! I had Gel and Fern (who helped in the sorting and loading process for the first time) hold the ewes and lambs in the corner in Wally’s barn while I went in and fished out lambs. Once I caught one, I brought it out and held it while Wally tagged it. Once the tagging was completed, I loaded the lamb onto the trailer which we had backed up to the barn. Some of those lambs are heavy and boy do they fight. One of them got her foot stuck in my shorts and almost disrobed me! Wally would have been in for a thrill!
I thought about all the other times Wally and I have caught and moved livestock and usually he’s the one doing the physical catching and lifting, but Wally’s knees have been bothering him so I took over the task. I was wondering if I was going to hold up to catching, restraining and lifting ten lambs, but I did. I’m getting stronger!
Fern quickly figured out her role in the holding and loading process. When one of the ewes (that darned St. Croix!) charged Gel, Fern was right there to back him up. Faced with two dogs with teeth, the St. Croix decided charging wasn’t such a good idea. I was glad to see Fern handled the pressure and didn’t back down. Gel couldn’t have done what she does at her age. She catches on almost immediately to new tasks.
We loaded the lambs first and brought them to my house. When we got there, I had to sort the adult sheep from the goats and the four lambs that belong to Marcus. I was able to get the goats separated, but wasn’t quite as successful separating the lambs. I do not have any kind of sorting equipment at my house so it is all done by hand. Lambs can be slippery as eels! No problem, we could load the adult sheep and pull out the lambs as needed. We tried to free load the sheep, but they kept getting away from us, so I took a panel and we made a chute. Gel easily pushed the sheep onto the trailer, all of them in fact, when we only wanted six per load. We pulled out the six extra sheep and the lambs (who were quite happy to climb in the trailer with the adult sheep) and brought that load over to Wally’s.
By then it was getting really hot and I was covered in sheep crap, dirt, hair and who knows what else. I suggested to Wally that we might want to stop in at one of the local churches for some enlightenment or perhaps go to the mall to do a bit of shopping, but he didn’t think that would be a good idea. We off-loaded the six sheep at Wally’s then went back for the remaining six.
Gel is a good dog, but like his caregiver, he likes the more exciting aspects of life. The lambs were calling for their mothers and Gel knew they were new and exciting and he thought he’d much rather go in and work the lambs rather than load the remaining six adult (boring!) sheep. I put him in the pen where the adult sheep were, but Gel was giving me the canine form of the middle finger and kept looking at the lambs and ignoring the adult sheep. He was over flanking and loosing the sheep, who were, by then, wise to the chute and trailer. I could have forced the issue and made Gel do his work, but I figured it would make more of an impression on him if I took him out and used Fern. I will give Gel a bit of the benefit of doubt in that I know he was trying to gather all the stock, but I made it quite clear he was to ignore the lambs and bring up the adult sheep.
Fern has never loaded stock (we won’t count the short attempt to load cattle a couple of weeks ago); but she did a fine job. Fern has nice, square flanks, but she’s much more precise in her movements than Gel is. She got those remaining six sheep into the chute and onto the trailer in no time. Good girl!
We took the last load back to Wally’s and sat around and drank a couple of beers. Wally had purchased some llamas at the sale a few weeks back and his wife’s cousin who lives down the street had bought one. He called while I was still there to make arrangements to pick his up. Wally said that he had the trailer still attached to his truck and asked if he wanted us to load and deliver the llama, which of course he did. Gel had been dying to get into where the llamas were and he got his wish. Llamas are interesting creatures and I think I might like one myself, if I could get it at a young age so that I could halter break it. We caught up the one to be delivered and put the second in with the sheep where she will remain. The one to be delivered was the smaller of the two and was light enough to carry and put on the trailer.
Now, in addition to sheep dirt and crap, I had llama hair all over me. By the time I got to take a shower, it took about ten minutes before the water ran clear off me.
I rested for a while, then decided I was going to take the lambs and goats down to the back pasture for a trial run and re-set my ElectroNet. By then it was about 93 degrees and quite humid. We got the lambs and goats down to the pasture without issue. Keeping track of them while down there proved to be difficult, especially given the grass was well over their heads in some sections of the pasture. The new lambs went off in search of their mothers while the goats and four lambs that knew the routine went in a different direction. I sent Gel and Fern to retrieve them several times while I was mowing, but both dogs were getting overheated as were the lambs. After getting two lines mowed, I decided it wasn’t worth continuing to work on the fence. We rounded up the stock and headed back up to the house. I went back down there this morning and set the fence where it needs to be. I’ll mow the remaining paths tonight.
I found an individual to deliver dirt so that I can fill in the holes in my agility field. If all goes well, I’ll have it by the middle of the week and can start the slow process of filling in holes and dips so I can use the field. They will also deliver crushed rock which I’ll get a load of in the next couple of weeks to put in the dogs’ runs to cut down on the mud in them. Getting dirt and rock hauled these days is expensive and it’s hard to find someone willing to do it. Can’t say I blame them given the price of diesel fuel.