Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Working Sheep

Not working sheep as in "Boy, those are some hard working sheep!" but working sheep as in "We need to check eye scores, deworm, trim feet..." Equinox Farm style.


The first thing you need to do is block off all the escape routes.  If it doesn't involve eating, back scratching or tearing up something...sheep mostly aren't interested in participating ;-).


"I'M interested in participating."

Right you are there, Graham, which brings us to the second important step.  Lock Graham out.  While Graham is an excellent blocker (I'll explain that in a minute) he's also a pushy pickpocket who thinks whatever you are giving any sheep should be for him instead and he'd be happy to run the checklist if you'd just give him back that pen he's already grabbed out of your apron twice and OOF he just stepped on you again and where did the screw-on cap from the de-wormer go?!?...

"Whatever."

We have a "working pen" at the end of the outside stall.  Simply, lock all the sheep in the barn, swing the end gate shut and then move all the sheep into the outside stall, down into that end and then swing a second gate shut.  24 or so "fluffy" sheep crammed in together in a small area make it easy to wade through and catch who you need without having to chase anyone around - not fun or good for your sheep.

While it would be nice to have chutes and gates and all sorts of fancy helpful tools like that, most of our sheep are friendly and easy to handle...wait, let me back up, our sheep from Nistock Farms are friendly and easy to handle.


Note all the Jacob sheep huddled at the back of the pen.  The one with the big horns?  The biggest scaredy cat of them all.  Oh, and Maisie is locked out with Graham as is little Mia.  Maisie because she'd be a punching bag in there and Mia, not because she's so tiny, but because she'd be doing most of the punching!


I need to give credit to B. Willard for being a helpful, easy to handle non-Nistock sheep.  That's him on the left and Boudreaux on the right.  Both of these large units, along with Buddy, Woolliam, Ewen and Keebler  (another two helpful NNS) are our "blockers".  There's not a Jacob sheep around that's going to get through that hefty wall.  That's important, especially if I'm working by myself.


"Am I going to grow up to be a blocker?"

Yeah Hershey, that would be my guess ;-).  Which brings us to another important step.  If you can't find your end gate chain and need to use baling twine...try to keep the clever sheep (Daniel) away from the knot.


"I'm just trying to get out of here.  Heidi (our other tiny but mighty puncher) says this is all our fault and she's gonna kill us!" 

If Heidi was easy to catch without the pen, she'd be locked out as well.  Luckily, once you start catching sheep, she stops fighting and goes to hiding.  It's pretty easy to find you if you're punching sheep... ;-).


Last but not least, don't ever think you can catch a couple old timers without a little help.  While you might get ahold of tiny, feeble, crippled up old Elizabeth...there's an equal chance you won't and that hurts.  Usually just your pride...but not always ;-).  

These super handy portable hinged panels get a lot of use here.  They can be configured many different ways and are the perfect size to just step over without climbing and the closer together slats at the bottom keep lambs where they're supposed to be.  All 1" x 4"s and two hinges.  Saint Tim glued each board as well as screwed them together.  Kathy's husband's design.

And, after everyone's been checked, treated, trimmed...it's important to keep your promise "If you are good we'll have a cookie party when we're done."



I know these are kinda long and probably kinda boring, but I know I'll enjoy having these silly little videos.  A lot of these sheep (and chickens) aren't so young anymore :-/.


24 comments:

Christine said...

Woo hoo! Cookies! I love it. :)

Unknown said...

They are absolutely lovely. Please don't stop. For us city-bound sheep loving types, it is the next best thing to being there. And it helps me explain to my loved ones why I am so sheep-obsessed -- all they have to do is watch for themselves. So, thank you for sharing!!!

Michelle said...

Love this...and the horse is licking his lips..he wants some too.

Maureen said...

Love it! So cute! Love the videos too... more please!

Susan said...

I *love* these posts about what is involved in raising sheep. Keep 'em coming. ♥

majorasue said...

I love seeing how other shepherds handle their sheep. I had to totally rework my system after Kid the Younger went off to college so that I could work mine single-handed. I have a couple of Blockers too, and they do make all the difference. And the cookie party at the end is wonderful!

Suz said...

oh this was wonderful....my some of those guys are huge
and I laughed when the cookies were gone...they were done with you....ha..just like human kids

thecrazysheeplady said...

Well, as always here, keep in mind this is just how we do things. There's probably a much better way...

Leslie said...

No, no - not long and boring at all. Those of us who will never realize the dream of owning animals of our own *love* these videos. So much more fun than still pics what with all the trotting around, jockeying for position, baaing, etc. They're great!

YarnKettle said...

I love you!!!

Please keep posting cookie party videos. It makes me miss the farm and sheep I grew up on. But in a good way. I find it interesting to hear you call each name since I am not good at recognizing everyone, especially from the back. I did recognize Ewan and Graham. Kinda hard to miss those two.

Pam said...

Looks like fun! Seeing lots of sheeps here in England, and had a great dinner tonight at a pub, where the owners 3 dogs were incredible mooches and ended up begging away half of our dinners.

Sheepmom said...

Great post! Yup, get them confined so there's no running and things never escalate to mass alarm. We have several 'door stops' that nobody skittish is going to barrel over. Love the cookie party. I could just hear GL and Buddy go trotting over....boom boom boom boom. ;-)

Michelle said...

I love the video! You always make me want to put a few sheep on our farm :)

small farm girl said...

So how often do you usually have to do this little "roundup"?
Oh, bye the way, love the well placed kick in the back by the horses. lol

Cloverleaf Art and Fibre said...

The videos are a special treat. Thanks for sharing.

Dallis Basel said...

good blog. keep showing people what we do every day.

Annette Mickelson said...

It was interesting learning about how you manage the sheep -- blockers make sense but I never would have thought of it. And the video is great. The horses (of course) cracked me up waiting and waiting and waiting in the background. ...and the chicken wandering around in front... priceless.

Deb W said...

So sad for the ones in the back who didn't get a cookie! But cracked up at the Adventure Chicken trying to figure out how to get in there and get some.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I enjoyed the sounds of the chickens and the horses in the background too! Your sheep sure like their cookies! Who has bells and could you show me what a good bell and collar look like? Who would you like to see have a bell? :)

Glenda said...

Unknown says it for me too. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I want to be YOU! But I'm too old now, and far too lazy so I'll have to settle for avidly following you. Your posts are what gets me out of bed in the morning. The thought of your wonderful sheep (also Hank, the horses and the chickens, but mostly the sheep) and a hot cup of coffee!

Miha Giustina said...

Those are two cute black faces: B. Willard and Boudreaux.:-)

And, I think that not every sheepie got a treat! Too bad.:-/ There seem to be some professional cookie-eating monsters in that group there:-). They know how to push and climb their way to you.

Wol 'n Draad said...

I just love the video! Makes it all come alive! :-)
Love, Ineke

Stacey at Fearn Abbey Needleworks said...

Love it. And even though ours is a little bunch, and loving...not so much when it comes to the "sheep work"! I have the bruised knees to prove it. Love those hinged panels, too. I'm going to be showing Ian. Portable gates you can step over = MUST HAVE! Thanks for sharing...all of it! :-)

Tyche's Minder said...

Aw geez, I almost missed this post. I do love the way you capture the small details of all the chores and the different personalities, while still actually getting the chores done. Sheesh, that's what impresses me. :) It's like your camera is an extension of you that you don't even have to think about. (I know that's not true, but the illusion is true.) Hat's off to you. I love being at the receiving end of these posts.

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