The beginning of our shepherding adventure

I don’t know how many of you realize this, but my husband is Australian. And he was raised on lamb and mutton, apparently. At least, that seems to be what he goes on about most these days.

And have you priced lamb in the stores recently?


Due to a series of unfortante events, our grass is also a wee bit high. Like you could lose a not-so-small-child-in-it high.

So I did what any wife would do and ended up at the livestock auction. Where the auctioneer kindly told me I should listen to the small children telling me to go higher and higher because they wouldn’t steer me wrong. And ended up with three of these.

Except not nearly so fluffy. They are only barely weaned lambs, after all. But without the fluff, my drawings look rather like goats. Or deformed dogs. Or just about anything other than a cute little lamb.

I fell in love. Not so much with the fluffy cuteness. These little ones are meant for the freezer, after all. But how could I not adore a creature who runs straight for the bindweed and strips all its evil little leaves off with such amazing efficiency?

So my husband thought . . . WE NEED MORE!!!

And I dragged him along to the next auction where he proceeded to buy five full grown three year old ewes and one cute little lamb to replace the one that died shortly after we got her (the vet suspected a nutritional deficiency she came with so there wasn’t really any thing we could do. Especially since I didn’t notice anything was wrong until she was pretty much already gone.)

I hadn’t quite expected that.

Neither did our SUV.

But the lady who loaded them up assured us she’d seen everything. And that this was quite normal to be loading up livestock in the back of the SUV. She told us about minivans and Lexuses and Mercedes and even a convertible. I told her she needed a webcam. But I’m not sure this is quite normal:

The kids and I had to stay behind because we didn’t fit. So we ate cookies and drank pop and chatted with strangers about livestock while he had all the fun of driving home with our new mobile barn.

And apparently unloading the ewes went pretty easy. They were, after all, all from the same group and a nice little flock all on their own. Once he got one out of the car and pointed into the pen, the rest followed.

The poor little lamb, however, had spent the entire ride cowering under the seat in fear of these huge strange monsters who threatened to crush her if she moved.

And she took one look at that gate and those ewes standing in the pen and darted back under the SUV as if it were the only safety she had ever known.

I might go ahead and throw in here that the little lamb was black. And the sun had gone down. And it was my husband and ten year old son alone against her and the night.

So anyway, she was under the SUV and my husband was trying to coax her out. Or force her out. Or just yell at her until she came out. And then she did. At a full run into the windbreak.

And then at a full run to the top of the windbreak.

And then at a full run back to the bottom of the windbreak and across two lines of electric fencing where she ran headlong into Flee.

Who is great with cattle, but is yet to really meet any of our lambs since they’re still under quarantine. Whether he wanted to play or herd or kill the intruder, we don’t really know, but the lamb didn’t want to find out.

So it was back through two lines of electric fencing where my husband finally tackled all thirty pounds of her and carried her to the pen.

Thus beginning our shepherding adventure.

And my car still smells like a barn.

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0 Responses

  1. I suffer the bindweed plague as well. We had a few borrowed grazing goats for a while that also liked the bindweed. I think the sheep will be great for you and your family. Congratulations on this new venture!

    I’m brooding a few young poultry (turkeys, geese, ducks, and chickens). but I’m thinking that next year I may only brood birds that I intend to sell and leave all incubating and mothering to my other birds. The geese and ducks do a great job when given the opportunity. I think they will produce enough for me and mine without my help. My turkeys however tend to get eaten by foxes and other predators because they like to take their hatchlings into tall grass at night instead of back to the secure turkey house. And the tiny turkeys are subject to predation by Osprey etc.

    I sell a lot of turkey poults each year so hatching enough to sell and keeping a few of those seems to be unavoidable. But turkeys and chicks are so much less work to brood than ducks and geese. What a mess they are! Ducks and geese can so easily be trained to go into safe housing at night. Even if the only enclosure and shelter is poultry netting and an open dog house. I’ll put up temporary netting to enclose the ducklings that the moms are brooding because ducklings are not contained by the electric netting. After all the brooding this year I am so happy to feel that I may be at the point that I can quit brooding waterfowl.

    I have some lovely Blue Ameracaunas (show quality) but they lay pretty small eggs and quit laying all winter so they may always just be a few kept for the variety but not for my primetime chicken flock. If you find yours have a nicer size egg and lay a bit better I’d love to get some from that line.

    I do like the way much of the farming conversation has turned from a focus of being sustainable to being resilient.

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