Lucky Buddy Bear—Stock Dog Extraordinaire
Slight change of plans. Since this is about the least treacherous stretch of our steep and curving (and very icy) driveway, we cancelled last Thursday's scheduled sheep shearing session. We didn't want our sheep shearer to make it down the driveway and then not be able to climb back out.
The last thing I want to do is annoy him in any way, as sheep shearers are few and far between around here, and this guy is really good. When I heard he was out of commission last year due to a broken leg, I started making panicky phone calls looking for a substitute shearer and came up empty.
Fortunately he was a fast healer, and late in the season I managed to sweet talk him out of his convalescence and into coming out and shearing our overheated sheep.
More below. . .
I'm trying to reschedule for next week, when these single digit temperatures and wind chills at zero or below will hopefully be over. Meanwhile, after a couple of days of serious procrastinating, we decided we couldn't put it off any longer, so this morning we bundled up, headed down to the barn, and gave wormer shots to all 43 ewes.
The original plan was to do this after they'd been sheared, as it is much easier to catch up a smaller, sheared sheep than a giant woolly one. What makes sheep catching such a challenge is the fact that—much as you would like to—you cannot grab a sheep by all that handy wool. If you do, you will permanently tear the skin from their body, which, as you can imagine, is a pretty horrible thing.
Anyway, wool and all, things went better than expected, and—much to our surprise—we were finished in under two hours. This is mostly due to the fact that we finally bought ourselves a shepherd's crook. Who knew they were so handy? You simply thrust out your crook, nab a nearby sheep by the neck, and reel them in.
Well, in a perfect sheep catching world that's what you do. And although our world this morning was mostly perfect, there were a few times when the sheep were definitely winning.
At one point Joe was forced to snare a feisty yearling lamb using what can only be referred to as The Tackle Method. He lay on his side, clutching the little darling who lay on her side, panting and holding up her front leg to reveal the bare patch of skin underneath where the shot is given.
"This is a warning!" he bellowed from his spot on the barn floor. "I can and will catch you all!"
Unfortunately it was one of the few times I didn't have my camera with me. The lamb's horizontal position made my job extremely easy, and I said, "I think you should catch them all this way."
Meanwhile, Lucky Buddy Bear was wishing it had taken us an entire week to work the sheep. Half English Shepherd and half Australian Shepherd, he was in his element and having the time of his life this morning. At five years old, Bear has become a huge help when it comes to catching up the sheep and working with them in general.
The times we want to strangle him for herding everyone in the wrong direction or doing the exact opposite of what we'd told him have become very few and far between. On top of that, he has an enormous, smiling personality, incredible good looks, and of course he adores his sheep. We are the ones who are lucky.
A year of Farm Photos ago:
2/3/06: New Digs
2/2/06: New Purpose--Visual Pleasure
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