First Sponsorsheep Drop - May 7

Hopefully you all have had a chance to read about the sponsorsheep program, if not check out all the details here

I am very excited that we will be 'dropping' our first 6 sheep as part of this program tomorrow, Sunday May 7 at 12noon (central time). We will be releasing 6 sheep - 4 adult merinos and the two newest merino lambs.  We will be doing one more sponsorsheep drop after all the babies are born, we expect at least 5 more lambs but could be more (keep your fingers crossed for more twins)! 

Here is the description of the first 6 that are dropping. For the various levels of sponsorsheep please go the sponsorsheep page.

This little girl was the first baby lamb born on the farm May 1, 2017! She came out and bonded with her mama immediately and within minutes was trying to stand up! She is a merino/cotswald cross with a beautiful chocolate brown fleece and the biggest ears!

This little girl was the first baby lamb born on the farm May 1, 2017! She came out and bonded with her mama immediately and within minutes was trying to stand up! She is a merino/cotswald cross with a beautiful chocolate brown fleece and the biggest ears!

This little guy was born on May 1, 2017 and he is feisty, born to a merino/cotswald cross mama and merino dad. He has a very dark fleece with the most beautiful white face markings.

This little guy was born on May 1, 2017 and he is feisty, born to a merino/cotswald cross mama and merino dad. He has a very dark fleece with the most beautiful white face markings.

This guy is a 5 year old wether (castrated male) and he is a snuggler! He lets the boys hug him, he loves chin scratches and will give me kisses every time I come into the pen! He is a merino/Cotswold/BFL cross and he has the most beautiful silky ringlets, all you spinners out there will love his fleece! He is a catch!

This Merino Ram is 6 years old, a strong yet gentle ram. He loves chin scratches and always greets me in the morning.  He is a cross of Merino/Cotswold/tunis. And has beautiful silvery cinnamon brown fleece with a long staple.

This Merino Ram is 6 years old, a strong yet gentle ram. He loves chin scratches and always greets me in the morning.  He is a cross of Merino/Cotswold/tunis. And has beautiful silvery cinnamon brown fleece with a long staple.

She is 4 years old merino/Cotswold cross. She is the silent strong type. She is gentle, yet let's me know that she likes her space!  She has a beautiful fine fleece.

She is 4 years old merino/Cotswold cross. She is the silent strong type. She is gentle, yet let's me know that she likes her space!  She has a beautiful fine fleece.

This girl just celebrated her 4th birthday, she is a proven mother and just gave birth to twins!  She has a beautiful light coloured fine fleece. 

This girl just celebrated her 4th birthday, she is a proven mother and just gave birth to twins!  She has a beautiful light coloured fine fleece. 

Training Day

Note to self: Farming requires a lot of equipment.

Somehow we didn't get that memo.

Recently we needed to corral our sheep. Corralling sheep is difficult when you don't have a corral.

Or sheep dogs. Or technical know-how.

Or anything remotely helpful, really.

But we did have 4 acres of penned in space and my inherently flawed idea that I could just run them down.

This was the plan:

First, I'd mosey up all sneaky-like. Then I'd sprint toward the herd and fling myself onto the nearest sheep.

Then Anna could run over with her vet-to-go kit, administer a gargle of anti-snail mouthwash, and give it a shot of meds.

Release sheep, high five, repeat.

Sure, launching myself at them would probably scare the crap out of them and scatter the flock. But they're sheep. What doesn't scare them?

Besides, if they bolted we'd just lure them back with oats. They always come back for oats. So as long as I managed to snag one each time we could just repeat this process until they were all vaccinated.

Anyway, that was the theory.

Here are some shots from the first 2.7 seconds of this attempt:

Total fail.

Turns out sheep are as untrusting of rapidly approaching threatening figures as they are quick. Who knew?

So we gave up and re-grouped around the internet. Luckily for us our neighbour (who also has sheep) forwarded us this video:

 

 

This was pretty helpful.

I mean, just look at this champ. Who's his BFF? Buzz Lightyear?

Only a person with total self-confidence leaves the house dressed like that. So listen up, this guy's got something to say.

All you have to do is note your pressure zones, keep fluid, and provide avenues of escape so your sheep will choose to go where you want them to go. Basic animal psychology.

Seriously, take another look. This is like the Ted Talks of sheparding.

Anna absorbed all this information...none of it really stuck for me.

What can I say? I guess I'll always be from the “Crazed Luchadore” school of sheep herding.

But I had my chance.

Heading back to the pasture, I screwed together a maze of temporary fencing using whatever we had on hand.

Screwing together temporary crap always kills me.

I hate making clap-trap constructs. Oh, it kills me. Grabbing an unmeasured length of 2x4 and anchoring it to the side of something barely standing with whatever screws I have on hand? ...shoot me now.

But these animals are fighting off parasites, right? So buck up and get the job done.

So there we are. Back at the pasture. Funnel-fencing up. Our goal: lead them into the shelter and lock it down.

Pretty much my role was just to hide around the corner, trying not to look like the guy who had chased them around the field like a psycho.

So there I crouched. Gripping my sheet of plywood, ready to spring.

Every once in a while I poked my head around the shack for a look.

“I'm doing it!” Anna shouted, lurching back and forth, maneuvering the sheep.

“You're doing it!” I agreed.

“Shut up! You're scaring them!”

“I'm not doing anything!”

Shut it!

The sheep saw me and tensed.

“I got them! I got them!” I said, stepping out from behind the shack, moving back and forth like that human Pixar guy from the video.

“What are you doing?” Anna asked.

“I'm helping.”

“You're not helping!”

“I'm helping! I...oh shit...”

The sheep started to panic and break up.

I ducked behind the shack and tucked into a ball.

I guess it wasn't necessary for me to tuck into a ball. I was completely out of sight. But maybe animals sense auras or something. In the moment I thought if I totally submitted maybe they'd come back. What can I say? You gotta commit.

“I'm using drawing pressure!” Anna shouted. “Now I'm using driving pressure!...It's working!”

I could hear them clomping and bounding. When sheep choose a direction to go, they go. And they were definitely going toward the shack.

A moment later I heard them all clomping into the shelter.

“I got them! I got them!” Anna shouted.

That was my cue. I grabbed the sheet of plywood and ran around the front.

Anna was blocking the entrance, the sheep were in. I slapped the plywood into place and screwed it down. Then I flopped over to help.

“Who's next?” I asked.

We had already vaccinated a number of them. (Randomly).

A while before this I managed to grab a few. Back when I had their trust. This minor victory is what gave me the false hope I could jump them all.

That time I kind of just drop tackled them. It worked, but it was an awkward scene. Two hundred pound me flopping down onto a fifty pound sheep...and then getting dragging around in circles across the dung-covered hay like a poorly rigged Super Dave Osborne prop.

Also, since that attempt the temperature had dropped to surface-of-Mars levels. And stayed there. A couple weeks of minus twenty to mid minus thirties. No time to mess around.

Anyway, this time we did it right. Got them into the shack, flipped them onto their haunches one by one and finished the job. All gargled, all vaccinated.

...all good? I sure hope so.

I removed the plywood from the front of the shack and the flock bounded out. I watched as they took a rip through the snow. Stepping out into that wind made the minus thirty five feel like minus a hundred.

But there was something in that moment. The dull winter sky with it's foggy dot of a sun hanging just above the horizon. The bare, dead clumps of vegetation poking up through the snow covered prairie. These animals with their huge coats and bare legs pounding through it all. And my wife and I watching them, squinting out from wraps of clothing, trying to figure them out.

You're going to laugh...but it made me think that if it really came down to it we could survive an ice age.

If anything it's good practice.

Come on, we're doing it! Even Mama Llama is bouncing back. I mean, she just pulled through three solid weeks of cold-as-it-ever-gets temperatures. And she's looking great. Well, not great. But still chewing! Standing!...Not dead!

Instead of heading back in, we lingered a bit.

Anna walked out and directed the flock. Got them to move in a clump just by backing away and stepping in, moving side to side when she needed to. It was crazy how quickly they responded to her. And I was in plain view and they weren't pissed!

We could do it, we could survive an ice age. Humanity pulled it off once before, right? I know we could make it.

I mean...

...as long as we had pre-mixed vet supplies.

...and internet tutorials.

...and probably a bunch of other stuff.

Crap. I should be making a list.