Friday, May 8, 2015

Sheep Walking

DD2 decided to purchase not one, but two lambs for her FFA project to take to the county Fair this summer.  Kind of an insurance policy, because if she only purchased one, and anything unfortunate happened to it before Fair came, she'd be empty handed and without a project at show time.  Plus, she has become completely smitten with sheep, and I suspect the temptation to buy two sheep instead of one was too much for her to resist.  (Also she takes after me quite a bit, and I'm rather known for tackling things with a 'go big or go home' point of view--after all, how else do I explain birthing & raising four children, buying 40 acres of land, designing and building our own house, seeing how much of my family's food I can grow/raise myself?)

She acquired them on Sunday, while DH and I were driving home from the U.P.  Her employers/mentors (the family with the small sheep farm she has been working at since February) hooked her up with someone they knew who had quality market lambs of the right age range, went with her to do the negotiating and choosing of the lambs, and transported the lambs back to their farm, where the lambs will live until it's time to go to Fair.

Of course, being removed from all that they've known their entire short lives, and taken to a new farm with new sheep and a strange teenage girl caring for them, the lambs were very skittish.  So, everyday this week, DD2 has not only fed them, but made sure she spent some time just hanging out in their pen so they could get used to her.

Then her lessons in sheep training began. Mrs. Mentor showed her how to corner and catch her lambs. And how to halter her lambs.  And how to teach her lambs to lead.  For the past three days, DD2 has spent about fifteen minutes daily with each of her sheep working on leading it around in addition to the time she spends feeding and watering them and all the sheep owned by the family she is working for.

Her lambs are now accepting of her walking in their pen and catching them.  They've stopped running away and now approach the gate when they see her arrive.

"She's here!"

They aren't so sure about me, since I'm still unfamiliar to them.  Yesterday, DD2 asked if I wanted to go with her and walk a sheep, so she could get them both out at the same time.  Always open to new farm-type experiences, I said yes.  And made sure I brought the camera, for evidence of my sheep walking adventure.

Then she caught, haltered, and handed me a lamb!  Which I had absolutely no idea what to do with.  Other than hold tight to the rope and say "Whoa, Lamb" in my authoritative horse training voice when it acted like it wanted to take off out of the barn.  Thankfully, it stopped, and stood, trying to wrap it's head around my leg, while I waited for DD2 to halter and bring out the other lamb.

Then the lambs and I got a lesson in sheep walking.  Sheep walking 101, because apparently when she shows them, they will walk without halters and ropes, just with her hand on them.  So we've got a long ways to go between now and the Fair.

Because right now, one wether (a wether is a castrated male, if you don't know sheep terminology) likes to plant his feet and lean backwards when asked to walk forward.

"Nope, not going forward."

Until DD2 touches him under the tail.  Apparently goosing a sheep makes it walk forward!

"Since you put it that way, okay, forward it is!"

The other wether has a different strategy.  He stands stiff as a board, until you shift to reach behind him, then suddenly it's UP UP into the air with all four feet!  Then you get about 4 nice forward steps, and repeat the sequence again.


"Still no."


"See how nice I can walk?"

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