March 15, 2010

Moving Junior - Round 1

During most of the year our ram, Junior, is kept on his own pasture across the driveway from the ewes. This ensures that we only have lambs once a year, in the spring, when the sun is shining and the grass is growing.

It works well to have Junior on his own pasture, except that in January we have to move him approximately 50 ft over to the ewes and then in February we have to move him back. You're probably wondering why we don't just leave him with the ewes until they give birth; let him enjoy the company of other sheep. It would be less work for us to feed animals on two different pastures. The reason we move him back after just a month is because after he gets what he wants, a little nookie, he becomes a complete jackass. He starts ramming the now pregnant ewes, keeping them from the oats and hay. So back he goes.

The first time we move Junior we had no clue what we were doing. Junior wasn't full grown either, maybe just 125 lbs, so Jeremy could still man-handle him if necessary. I actually don't remember the move over to the ewes, it must have been smooth. Junior was probably so excited about the ewes he just ran over. But the move back was different.

The strategy was to for me to 'lead' Junior with a bowl of oats while Jeremy shut the ewes' gate and then 'pushed' from behind. Jeremy opened the gate and Junior came out. He went for the oats and I kept moving 10 feet or so at a time getting him to follow me. But then he noticed the lillies and decided they needed trimming. I kept trying to get his attention with the oats but he got by me. As I moved toward him, he spooked and started trotting. I panic and started after him. Which made him break out in a full run towards the road, which would mean he was loose. (My rancher's skill have come a long way since that day.)

I was still holding the oats, jogging, and screaming "JUNIOR, OATS!" Then Jeremy yelled, the loadest he has ever yelled or maybe that anyone has ever yelled, "MINDY! STOP!" My reaction was to sit down, in the middle of the driveway, cross legged, with the bowl of oats in my lap. The booming, very mannly voice also made Junior stop in his tracks. He took notice of the flowers again and started eatting.

In a pathetic little voice I kept saying, from seated position on the gravel, "Junior, oats." And slightly shaking bowl, trying to get his attention. Meanwhile, Jeremy snuck around behind me and Junior and got between him and the road. Then he causually 'pushed' Junior my way. When Junior got about to me, I got up, slowly. He took notice of the oats again and followed me to his pasture where Jeremy slammed the gate behind us. Then I slid out quickly and locked the chain.
Deep breath.

We have learn a lot since then. We can move Junior easily just holding his neck (but it takes both me and Jeremy).

No comments: