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A Nantucket Sleighride
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The ewes go on holiday
Submitted By edith on 09/11/03
Day by Day, edith, Documents, On the Farm, animals, sheep, Lady Jane, Esther, Sweet Pea, Honey, Calvin, dogs 
This Document originally posted in the "Day by Day" Group

Yesterday was another gorgeous crisp autumn day.  We brought the ewes, Lady Jane, Esther, and Sweet Pea, to "visit" the ram at a nearby farm.  They'll be there for about 20 days for breeding and then we'll take them back home.  If all goes well, they should lamb in April sometime.
However, it's not quite as simple as it sounds, bringing the ewes to visit the ram.
No, because first you have to catch them and put them in a trailer, or whatever mode of transportation you happen to have.
After backing the car and trailer up as close as we could to the sheep pen gate, Alex and I left Dad in charge of opening and closing the gate, and marched confidently up to the ewes.
I had thought this through very carefully, and decided that the best thing to do would be to distract the girls with grain, and then grab one of them.
Sounds easy enough.
And it worked like a charm - I shook the grain bucket, they all came running up to me, I selected my first victim, Esther, and...
Ahem, yes, I tackled her.
The next thing I knew, I was hanging on for dear life to a woolly creature who was trying very hard to get away from me.
I hung on.  The only thing I remember thinking is, "if I can just get her head up, and dig my heels in, I'll have her!!"
Note: for those who don't know, once you get control of the sheep's head and have it "up" there's not much they can do, and you have them in your power!  Muhahahaha!  Oh, right...sorry...
I tried to do that, I really did...but every time I had her head up, my heels weren't dug in, and every time I had my heels dug in, I didn't have her head up.
Oh, and by this time, Esther was running around the pen with me holding onto her wool with a grip of steel.   Well, maybe not exactly a grip of steel, but I had a good grip on her...
It looked as if I might get the better of her, when...I slipped.
It's been raining a lot here lately and all of the animal pens are about ankle deep in mud.
Yes, I said "ankle deep".
So, I slipped, and found myself hanging on (still with my grip of steel) to a ewe who was bent on getting away from me.
Note: if you've ever read the James Herriot books, this scenario is probably starting to sound rather familiar - this stuff doesn't just happen in books, folks!
Somehow, I'm not quite sure how, but somehow I managed to get back on my feet, after being dragged for about five feet, and tried once again to get Esther's head up.
And then I slipped again.
By this time, my grip of steel had weakened considerably....
After hanging on for all I was worth for about another five feet, I had to let go.
And Esther scampered off, thoroughly pleased with herself, and thoroughly freaked out.
This sounds like it took forever, but it all transpired in about a minute or so.
You might be wondering what Alex was doing this whole time.
I was wondering the same thing...
There are several theories out as to what he was doing while I was being dragged around.
  1. He was standing there in shock, watching his 110lbs. sister get dragged through the mud by a 200+lbs. ewe, or
  2. He was sipping a soda while lounging in a hammock and reading A Christmas Carol, or
  3. He thought I had everything under control and didn't want to interfere, or
  4. All of the above.
Take your pick.
All I know, is I got up off the ground, laughing shakily, and he said, "Do you need some help?"
Do I need some help?!
I could have used some help way back when I went down for the first time!!!
*sigh* Brothers...
To give him credit, he probably was a bit in shock to see me getting dragged around by Esther, and I probably would have been too.
My dad says I went for a Nantucket Sleighride - harharhar, very funny;)
I only wish I could have seen myself...
So, I'm standing there, with mud up the side of my skirt where I was dragged, and my right boot full of mud.   Actually, it might have been much worse.  Esther dragged me across the driest part of the pen, so I got off relatively unscathed...this time;)
After coming up with a different plan, involving more grain, a cattle panel, and lots of running, we finally caught Esther.   She was in a much more confined space, so I was able to walk up to her and grab her easily.
Note: that is what I'm going to do next time.  Confined space = piece of cake
The thing is, I knew that...  Why didn't I do that in the first place?  I don't know...
Alex then took over and lead her to the trailer.
Might I add he was much more successful at keeping her head up than I was?
Yes, I'm very thankful for my big, strong brother:)
With Esther out of the way, we proceeded to catch Lady Jane, who also takes great delight in running away from us.   Thankfully Lady Jane is halter trained, so I was able to lead her to the trailer and she got in with minimal trouble.
Sweet Pea, who is a darling in every respect, was incredibly easy to catch.  We did have trouble getting her across the pen and into the trailer though, because she was leaving her lamb behind.  Poor little Honey was quite beside herself while her mom was lead, or more accurately, wrestled, across the pen to the trailer.
We are very accurately portrayed as sheep in the Bible - stubborn and bent on doing things our own way, until we discover the love of the Good Shepherd...and even then, we tend to stray away.
So, with the ewes packed into the trailer, we set off.
The rest, was super easy - we backed up to the pen at the farm, opened the gate, opened the back of the trailer, and the ewes jumped right into the pen.
The farm we brought the ewes to use Great Pyrenees dogs for guarding their sheep.  This big boy's name is Elijah:)  I just wish I had a picture of his BIG paws!
The ram - Rambo;)   A very, very nice Suffolk ram who has champions on both sides of the family.
We are going to have nice lambs next year=)
They have a really nice flock on their farm.  One of those ewes is Sweet Pea's mom.
Two more of their guard dogs
My girls - Lady Jane, Esther and Sweet Pea
Rambo was very happy to see my girls:)
Playing hard to get;)
In the meantime, poor little Honey is getting used to being by herself, except for Calvin, our pasture pet and weed eater.  They're getting along pretty well, although Calvin was being quite selfish with his food tonight.
I've been spending a lot more time with Honey since she's so lonely, so I'm hoping we'll have a really good relationship.  It's especially helpful during lambing season to have a relationship of trust with your ewes.
Well, that's all for now folks!
Oh, in case you're wondering, I'm black and blue all up and down my right side from getting dragged, plus a bruise on my left hip, and if there's a muscle in my body that I didn't pull, I haven't discovered it yet.
Other than that, I feel pretty good...just don't make me laugh - it hurts.
So long!

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