Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sheep Are Dumb....and more about pasture management

Ok whoever coined this phrase must not have had Shetland sheep as I find this NOT to be the case. Take this morning for example. I had great plans to have the moms and lambs eat down this small, seemingly yummy patch of grass on a fairly small piece of real estate. I basically wanted them to "mow" it. So I put them on it first thing this morning thinking they would be hungry. Well for some reason or other the moms did not like it. They were yelling all sorts of obscenities at me. Things like "this grass has been walked on by ducks", "this grass it too close to the compost heap", oh and other things I probably shouldn't repeat. To avoid the excessive noise I escaped and went inside. My thought was they would shut up if I wasn't there to yell at; I really didn't want to get the neighbors mad too. Well they did quiet down but they still weren't going to eat the grass either, instead many of them stuck there head though the fence, apparently the greenery on the other side was much better. One of the lambs even squirted through the fence to eat my new shoots of raspberries! OMG what a fiasco this was. In hopes of mending my relationship with my neighbors I decided to put these "mad as hell" moms to a different paddock to shut them up. They had won!
In transitioning them to this new paddock, the sheep had to be shushed back into the "waste area", through a "u" turn in the barn and then out the just opened door to fresh grass. The moms new the maze and were out there in no time flat. The lambs however were not so easy. They took a detour to play on their favorite gym equipment and run around the waste area. This waste area is a paddock we put the sheep on when we want them off the pasture so it can rest. A place where we can put them to keep our paddocks from being overgrazed. Well it happens to be directly across the fence from where the moms were now grazing. My thought was these lambs aren't going to be able to figure out the maze when they can see mom directly on the other side of the fence. It had been a week or so since many of them had been there. To avoid upset lambs, I unbungied a part of the fence to open up a temporary "gate". I shushed them along toward it but in doing so they they got a spooked by my funny shushing vioce, and in a great mass went running right past the opening, up through the barn and out the other side, right to their moms. They knew the way! Who was the dummy here?

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