Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Counting sheep....

This is the place we call The Shearing Pens because years and years ago, this is where all the sheep were worked and sheared.  Since then, it continues to be the place where we work the sheep.  We no longer shear here, but we always work and sort and load sheep in these corrals which were built especially for sheep.

Today, the order of the day was to cull ewes, sort the wether lambs from the ewe lambs, and then choose the best of the ewe lambs to keep as replacements for the coming year.  We also docked the long-tails that were born to the yearling ewes late in the spring. 

The grasshoppers were pretty thick down here.  It looks like all these hoppers were climbing up the alley to see if they could help us push up the sheep.


These ewes were marked  as culls.  We use a special spray paint that eventually washes out of wool, but allows us to mark ewes clearly so we can sort them out of the alley when it's time to sell them.  They were culled for a number of reasons:   not raising lambs or for being unmotherly or because they had physical problems that are undesirable for raising lambs.
Every pen of sheep that is worked down the alley is counted out and tallied in the book.  We need to know how many breeding ewes we have, how many ewe lambs and wether lambs there are, and how many culls and replacement ewes we have.  The count is important because when the sheep are brought in to be sold, we need to know that we have them all.   We need to know that the herd is together or if some have strayed through a hole in the fence into the neighbor's pastures.  Each one must be accounted for.  Whenever we work sheep like this, I think of the Proverb that says, "Know well the condition of your flocks and pay attention to your herds..."  (Proverbs 27:23-27) 

Sue gets the Best Dog of the Day award!  She worked so hard and put forth so much effort and didn't even get into much trouble while doing her favorite thing -- working sheep.  We couldn't get the job done without our dogs.  We have two border collies and one corgi and they are all pretty good stock dogs.  The corgi is the youngest and has the most to learn, but she did better this time out.

There's nothing like the picture of turning out the herd to pasture after a hot summer day's work.  They are so glad to go back out to green grass and water, and we are satisfied in knowing how they are faring out there on the range. 
"He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul."   ~Psalm 23

9 comments:

  1. A lot of work...that is a bunch of grass hoppers..bet they are so glad to get let out to the pasture, you too! :D

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  2. Oh, I love the sheep faces. As I've mentioned before, I'm amazed at the organization and the systems you have worked out. The last picture is especially wonderful. I bet everyone is tired and ready for a good night's sleep.

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  3. Gosh -- there's so much to know with your sheep! What is a wether sheep? I love the picture of Sue on the fence!

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  4. What alot of work! Just last week I took a photo of sheep grazing in the pasture and quoted Psalm 23 with Jill who was with me...such a great reminder of God's care for us.
    Are the grasshoppers going to be a problem for the crops? (reminds me of the Little House books)
    Thanks for the peek,
    Joanne

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  5. Thimbleanna,
    A wether is a castrated male sheep. The "steer" of the sheep. They are always butchered for meat.
    Sue is quite a hand.

    Joanne,
    We've been blessed not to have much of a battle with the hoppers. They are coming on strong now as we are close to the end of our haying season, so we have most of the hay up. Still, we hate to see hoppers because they might be abundant next year.

    Jody

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  6. I always enjoy seeing pictures of where you live and the sheep are just the cutest animals! They have such a innocent look about them.

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  7. I check you site every now and again and love your descriptions of your farm, life and love for Jesus! I am a suburb dweller of Milwaukee, WI and love the country picts and learning about your sheep, tractors and other such things I'll never get a chance at. Thank you.

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  8. I feel like I've had an education! Wonderful pictures; I especially like seeing the landscape where you are. And like Pom Pom, I love the sheep's faces. They look so calm and bemused.

    frances

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  9. Wow, that is a lot of work. I think the shearing pens are really cool, I could see having some evening party there !!! Clarice

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