The farm job that has always resonated with me the most is taking care of the sheep. Maybe it’s that nurturing instinct in me. Or perhaps it’s because I value personal growth, and you can’t not grow as a person after working with sheep for several months. Either way, the sheep have become my family, and I was happy to reunite with them upon my return to the farm.
Much of our 65 acres has now been fenced off into three separate grazing areas. It was a huge amount of work to put up the fencing over the summer, but totally worth it. Now, the flock can rotate their grazing areas, but not have to be supervised the entire time they’re out eating. It saves us shepherds a lot of time each day!
However, a couple days ago, Antonio instructed me to keep an eye on Freckle Face, one of our veteran ewes, since the other day, she had decided she’d had enough of grazing and led the whole herd out of the fenced area, towards the barn.
(Typically, the fence has an electric charge, but for whatever reason it isn’t being charged currently.)
I didn’t mind, as it was a good chance for me to get away from my computer screen, observe the different types of flowers and grasses that had sprouted in the field, and freeze my butt off a little.
It’s an awesome feeling when you’ve built up the confidence to manage the herd without panicking that they’re gonna go AWOL on you. Sheep have that instinct to move away in the opposite direction when they sense you approaching. So, you can’t follow them too closely or they’ll just start running off.
At the same time, you have to anticipate where they’re going to end up after a few minutes time. (You can tell, because sheep simply put their heads down into the grass and start walking forward in a straight line. Like lawnmowers on autopilot.)
I’ll make a wide circle around them, so they don’t notice me, and end up in position to guide them towards another direction once they get to where I am. That being said, the sheep will usually turn away from the fence, even if it isn’t charged.
Well, most of the time anyway.
If one of them gets the idea that the grass is greener on the other side, they’ll break through the barrier. And as instinctive followers, the rest of the flock won’t be far behind! It’s always an entertaining time with the sheep gang, and they always keep us on our toes. 🙂