Maggie1

Friday was a very rainy, windy, cold and stormy day. And it was a day that mandatorily held moving the sheep to the far pasture. They had run out of grass in the last section of the RCG field. I was hoping to finish lambing in the RCG field, because it’s less of a walk for me from the house. And I almost reached the goal, with #33 lambing in the morning, at least all of the concerning lambers were done. The Jacob sheep was the only one left, and I didn’t figure she’d have any complications this time.

So, I spent three hours breaking camp, for the sheep, that is.

Moving their Electronet over one section isn’t much work, it takes maybe 20-30 minutes to “flip” the rectangle over on itself, reusing one long side of the old rectangle. In those instances, I only have to drag the water tanks and mineral feeder about 100’. And I use two stock tanks, one on the inside and one on the outside of the rectangle (for the dog)- this way, I only have to move the tanks every other time I move the fence, to leapfrog it forward to a location of two new grazing spots. 

But, when they get to the end of a field and the whole shebang needs to move, it takes longer. I roll up the Electronet rolls, tie them up to prevent tangling, load them onto the ATV and drive them to the new spot. Drive the water tanks, mineral feeders, and metal garbage cans that hold dog food and grain. And then drag hundreds of feet of water hose to refill the tanks. Finally, I round the sheep up into their new space.

That part normally takes about two hours. And if I’m just moving them to the opposite end of the field, sometimes I’m lucky in being able to shoo them into the square, or lure them with grain, without much hassle. But this time I was moving them back into the far field, which they haven’t seen since October. And, moving ewes with new lambs is challenging, to say the least.

Maggie2I had to use Maggie, for sure, I don’t think I could have convinced 49 sheep and lambs to follow a grain bucket into a forgotten-about pasture. And I was in a hurry, due at my sister’s at 4:30 for my nephew’s birthday party. Oof, what hard work. The ewes walk backwards, trying to fend off the dog and deter her from their lambs, and then they can’t see or think clearly about where they’re going and keep getting stalled out. Getting them through the gate was tough! Some were so stubborn I’d convince Maggie to leave them behind, hoping to at least get the majority into the new spot, so the rest would follow.

Maggie was good, she’ll snap at a lamb that tries to bolt, but she doesn’t seem to make enough contact to hurt them, just convince them. More than once she was bowled over by an angry ewe, and she  came back up fightin’, gripping them in the nose and putting them back in their place. She is no wuss. Later that evening, Kirk went to hug her and she yelped- I imagine she’s a bit bruised up from that day’s work! But she wouldn’t trade it for the world, I’m certain. She is such a help and always disappointed when we’re through working.

The panicked straggler ewes necessitated me carrying their lambs, walking backwards, and luring the mothers along. #33 was last, she is always stubborn about moving for a dog, and with eight-hour-old lambs, there was no way she was going in the conventional way. She ended up with a straggler tiny lamb hanging out with her too, so then I had four lambs to tote across the whole length of the  field. Phew! I finally made that guy walk, and carried the three newborns, and then we were done. I think the job took about an hour of messing around. I counted and re-counted the 29 lambs in the new square to make sure there wasn’t a tiny one disguised as a molehill somewhere, left alone in the old pasture. Heaven forbid if Bronte were the first to find such a thing!

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