A Tale of Two Lessons
This next entry in the chronicles invloves two lessons learned in my new world of black (and white) sheep. Both lessons are learned in the category of “work required to accomplish a task.” Just in case you didn’t get a chance to read my first episode of the Wooly Chronicles, you can find it here The Wooly Chronicles Episode 1.
Portable Is Good
The first lesson is in building a portable pen for the critters. The original fencing on the property is about as old as I am, and so we needed to make a plan immediately. Proof positive that my dad is the brains of the business, he came up with a nifty little contraption.
The general idea is to put together four livestock panels,(preferably heavy duty ones) in a square. The corners are set into old tires which act as skids. Then you keep the whole thing square with cable criss-crossed along the top.
The idea was to pull the pen across the ground with the garden tractor every day. We did need to make an immediate improvement on the plan, since just hooking a chain to the panels and pulling along resulted in a majorly bent panel.
Finally, here’s where I was able to come up with a good idea. We actually utilized the ever-growing Poplar tree population! First we found a nice straight tree, about 8 inches around, with relatively few branches and cut that bad boy down! We measured sixteen feet and cut it to fit one edge of the pen. Then we ran the chain through each end of the log, and then attached it to the corners. This provided the necessary stability and made moving the pen a hundred percent easier.
What NOT To Do
The second lesson I’ve learned just recently has to do with knowing your limitations, and using your brain to make good decisions. Someone, and I won’t mention any names, decided to try to move another small pen we made, by hand. And by herself. This process required taking panels down and re-locating them to new grass. This was all well and good, until the point was reached where there were two panels enclosing three sheep in a sort of lopsided circle.
What can, and apparently will, happen, is that the two panel lopsided pen will fall over. And the sheep will escape. This nameless person to which this happened was then in a bit of a pickle. For teaching purposes, let me explain exactly what happens next
Upon realizing it’s newfound freedom, a sheep will first think of all the fresh grass around it and begin to gorge itself. His next thought will be toward maintaining a close proximity to the rest of the sheep. And I, or rather, “she” can tell you from first hand experience that no amount of shooshing, herding, or pleading will remove those sheep from the proximity of their buddies. EVER. This was clearly not a one woman job.
At that point, the only option left was to open the other pen and let the loose sheep in, regroup, and wait for reinforcements. Sigh. Lesson learned.