Sunday, November 3, 2013

Our sheep don't like fences.

Well I am still behind on the blog.  I aim to catch up this month.  Life has been very hectic and I keep making excuses to not write the blog.  Journal keeping is demanding and I had let it overwhelm me.  We have a photographer friend who sees the most extraordinary views of the world even in the simple things.  I am refocusing and taking that approach, realizing that I cannot get everything done when I think it should be done and to just deal with the items as they appear.  The distractions are just new tasks in a different direction.  I can get back to the original goal eventually. 

We had to pick a day to sort the sheep when I was available, this turned out to be six days before the kill day.  Zeke was itching to have a shot at the sheep!  He loves working, Annmarie took him up on the hillside and they started pushing the sheep toward the back hillside gate.  Sarah and I went up on the back hillside to redirect the sheep toward the gate.  Unfortunately, the sheep had all summer to forget about Zeke and he had all summer to lose his control.  Zeke ran all over the place and the sheep balked at every gate.  It took all three of us and the dog forty minutes to get the sheep into the barn.  

Once we had them in the barn we used a 16 foot cattle panel to block all the sheep into a 8x20 foot section of the barn.  We used all the feeders to create a wall to which the panel could be bungy corded.  (We still don't have a sorting chute.  It's blueprints are locked in my brain.)  Annmarie and Sarah went in with the sheep.  We had a list of ten sheep we needed to kill, an older whether, lams and some want to be whethers (boys I banded too young and missed a testicle).   Annmarie waded in and started catching sheep.  It was fairly obvious whenever she grabbed a ram, as the fight was considerably harder and prolonged.  These caught sheep were then tossed out into the old horse area.  The plan was to let them fun around for six days with us supplying food and water.  We ended up having to catch an even dozen sheep as there were a couple more rams we discovered. I fed and watered them and inside we went.  

At 2200 when we went to bed I could hear sheep every where bawling at each other.  An inordinate amount of noise, enough for me to think there was maybe a predator out on the property.  So I grabbed a pistol, bill cap clip flashlight, hand flashlight and Zeke and we went to investigate.  Stupid sheep, there was only two sheep were the belonged.  Six had gotten out by pounding at the cow panel gate and bending the lower corner enough to crawl through.  All the sheep with horns chose this escape route.  Zeke and I spent 45 minutes getting them back in the approved area, with me spending 15 minutes to reattach the gate so it cannot occur again.  After that there were still not enough sheep in lock up area.  Four more sheep, with no horns had crawled under the gate on the other side of the lockdown area.  It took another 45 minutes to chase them into the barn and back out into the lockdown area.  At one point I had to take my hat off and put it on a post with the light shining at the sheep so they thought there was a third person herding them.  I then drug some feeders over to the gate to block off the exit.  After some contemplation, I decided the sheep would have 6 more nights to figure out how to get out.  I and Zeke pushed them all into the square pen, I moved the food and water into there and tied the outside gate closed.  I did not want to be back out there till after midnight every night.  

We fed and watered them every night till Mike's mobile slaughter came on Sunday afternoon.  We saved 9 hearts and livers for a coworker's dogs.  We also saved three skulls with the best horns, full curls that I want to have nature clean up for us.  Once they are all cleaned, next spring, I will mount the skulls on the barn.