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