Monday, November 16, 2009

The Running of the Sheep

Well, not exactly. Let me explain. Grazing was pretty much finished on the hill high above our farmhouse. Lambs are expected in December. It is almost Thanksgiving. It was time to think about moving our flock of 200 plus sheep closer to their winter lambing headquarters at our greenhouse barn in Bernardston. That barn is 4 about miles from where the sheep have been currenting grazing. The Farmer had made arrangements to have the sheep graze a large field closer to the greenhouse barn where pasture was still available.

Sunday was a beautiful day - warm and sunny after a miserable rainy Saturday. We made a quick decision to move the sheep. We could have rented a trailer but that would have cost a fortune. Instead, I got on the phone and called some friends. We needed a truck to slow down traffic ahead of the sheep. Yes, Mitch would do that. We needed a truck at the end of the sheep parade to buffer traffic impatient motorists anxious to get past and to pick up straggling helpers. Alice would do that. We needed another car to block the road so the sheep wouldn't take a left onto Eden Trail. Lynn would do that.

Along with all these adults came a gaggle of kids. I promised their parents the kids would be tired out, sleep well, and have fun time. And so off we went.

The Farmer and his trusty dogs left the house before the helpers arrived. He drove off to start the move, impatient to get the job done so there would be time to set up the fence before dark. By the time my posse of people got to the appointed meeting spot, there were no sheep, dogs or Farmer. We drove on and met up with him about a mile and a half down the road in a big field. The sheep were quietly grazing. It was time to get them moving.

The grass was tasty and they didn't want to leave. With the help of kids, parents, and mostly the dogs, they moved across the field. The big challenge was to get them up an embankment and onto the road in the right direction. After a few false starts, they began heading the way we needed them to go.

Sheep are followers. Once the flock started moving in mass, there was no where to go but up the hill. Off they went with Lynn's car blocking the way.

They turned the corner and we were on our way. You would probably be surprised by how fast sheep can move when they want to. They ran along at a fast clip - kids in hot pursuit, most of the adults hanging behind.

This driveway looked too good - off they went up it much to the neighbor's surprise.

The dogs rounded them back down the hill and they were off on the road again.

It was straight shot for awhile. We met a giant truck. The sheep just moved on by. Hope he wasn't in a hurry!

Down, down, down the hill we went. Here's the hairpin turn. The sheep and dogs were flying and all the kids were struggling to keep up. Never mind the grown-ups.

There was beginning to be a traffic pile-up. Oh well, you never know what you will run into around here.

Below the hairpin turn, the land flattens out to gorgeous green pastures and hayland. As predicted, the sheep thought it was too good to be true. At least it gave the traffic behind us a chance to pass by.

That's The Farmer trying to move the flock off the field. Surely there is a dog right there behind all those sheep.

We got them off the field, Eeyore the Donkey in tow.

Another lovely green field that was too good to pass up. That's this winter's haylage for the dairy cows down the hill in the big white marshmallows.

Boys will be boys - the bales were irresitable for a bit of jumping.

We were getting close but they just didn't want to go in the gate. Into the woods they went. After a few moments with some gentle prodding they turned back around.

Finally, they were where they are to spend the next couple weeks or so until the grass is done.

And here's the little team of helpers who had a great time.

What a fun way to spend a Sunday fall afternoon.


marlaine said...

What a great sheep adventure! I think this story and your photos would make a great children's book - perhaps with some knitting patterns thrown in for good measure?

Thanks for brightening up my Monday morning!

Elizabeth said...

Please add me to your "willing to work moving sheep" list!

theroadtohobbiton said...

What a great story - and a great way for kids to spend a Sunday afternoon! They will remember that forever - much better than video games!!! Wish I lived nearby and was your friend!! :-)

Sara said...

What a great post! Love the pictures and the story. I'd volunteer anytime if I was closer. Sounds like a great day for kids and adults.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your blog so much - I started reading to learn about your knitting. Now I read it to hear the farm/sheep/lamb stories. Wish we lived closer - I would love to visit your farm!!!

Kar said...

Sounds like your little work out was fun. I think it would have been a blast to be there to help. Now my girls want some sheep of their own. :)


Michele in Maine said...

What a great day, and a great story! You should definitely consider a children's book!

Mereknits said...

How Fun!!! What a great experience for those kids.

PghCathy said...

What a great way to spend the day. I'm tired out just from reading about this endeavor! I see a kid's book, too. Surely you could zip one out in your 'spare time'!LOL!!!!

Wool Enough said...

I agree with the others. Your sheep moving adventures definitely need to be a kids book. You'll have all the city children wanting to move to the country.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to read about and see your photos.
Good going kids!

Allison said...

Kristin, thanks for sharing! Good god, it was quite an endeavor!

Heather L. said...

What a fun post! Thanks for taking all the pictures!

Deborah said...

What a great post! I bet everyone slept well that night. It looks like a lot of work and coordination are involved and I'm glad you have friends and neighbors so willing to help!