The last two days have been very hectic in preparation for the sheep going into the barn for the winter. You’d think, “We have a barn, so we’re good” but we had yet to complete the electricity, the end panels, the floor and a few other small details. My parents came and helped tremendously. They are a model of how to cooperate and plan a multi-task effort. Mom applied rabbit-fence to the large gaps on the bottom of the large cattle panels while Dad and Matt worked on installing the electricity and affixing the cattle panels to the barn walls. I was even able to help a little despite my broken foot by moving some hay around for bedding and helping Mom.
With a little cleanup, today was the day to move the sheep into the barn. We figured they’d be really pleased with the opportunity since they stood out in the sleet all last night. But as Matt led the flock up the hill to their new winter quarters, two of the Border Leicesters decided that they’d rather be outside after all and led a few of their more gullible friends along as well. Oh well, we’ll try again! But the more we gathered the sheep and tried to get them in the barn, the more sheep began to refuse to cooperate. With only two people, only one of whom could walk, we could get most of the sheep in but couldn’t close the gate behind them, allowing several to escape every time we tried to pen them. We tried every configuration of gates and moving at different speeds and leading them in different directions to lure them, but finally we had to concede that we had 20 sheep in the barn and 16 on the lawn and there wasn’t going to be much we could do to make ground.
Matt was angry and frustrated and I was frozen and crabby. I began to feed the lawn-sheep little bits of grain to intrigue them to stay where they were. This was easier said than done, as the grain-lovers were all in the barn and the grain-skeptics in the yard were mostly avoiding me. While impatience made our situation worse when we were trying to force the sheep into the barn, patience and the fine art of pretending not to pay attention to the sheep eating the grain I was providing allowed me to hold the sheep in one place. Meanwhile, Matt gathered reams of Electronet fence and hauled it up the hill again and again to enclose the sheep. He is having some nerve pain, so schlepping fence around was about as comfortable for him as standing on one foot for two hours trying to be nonchalant about the timid sheep was for me. But within half an hour, he had set the fence up around us. He was hot and exhausted, and I was frozen and had lost feeling in my toes. But we got all of the sheep contained.
When we got inside, Matt asked me to prepare the mutton chops we had in the fridge. He felt he needed to eat sheep after an afternoon like this. I cooked the chops and they almost made up for how sore and exhausted we are. A brandy and pear tart I also made made up the difference.
Tomorrow, we have a couple of friends joining us to move the rest of the sheep into the barn. We should be able to do without moving the sheep outside of fencing. Hopefully, it will be a smoother process than today was.