Sheep Break Out

Constance slipped past the gate through the five-strand wire fence to get into the back pasture.  You can see Suzy trying to follow her through the fence on the left.

It was not how I planned my morning.  When Jon and I got home last night, we closed the side pasture where the sheep had been grazing while we were away. They ate the grass down so now we’ll let it grow up again.

This morning I gave the sheep hay but they followed me to the back pasture and before I could even open the gate Constance slipped through the five-wire fence.  Suzy started to follow her, but once I had the gate open she decided that was easier.

While the sheep grazed I went back to the barn to muck it out, visiting a bit with the donkeys who were still eating hay.

About ten minutes later I thought about how easily Constance slipped through the fence and went to check on the sheep in the back pasture.  Asher, Issachar and Socks were on top of the hill by the pine tree, but the rest of the sheep were nowhere in sight.

So I walked the fence line and saw that the mesh fencing I’d put up a couple of years ago in front of the five-wire was down.  And there were the rest of the sheep on the other side of the fence on our neighbor’s property enjoying their very green grass.

These are the same neighbors who freed Kim when she got stuck in the fencing a few weeks ago, so I knew they’d understand if they looked out their window and saw the sheep grazing.

I looked down at Fate who was looking up at me eagerly and thought about Red.  Without a dog who could get the sheep back, it was up to me.

So I stepped over the fence onto my neighbor’s property and called to the sheep.  To my surprise, they came running.

They followed me to the fence, but once I went over it again, they turned back to that green grass.That’s when I knew I needed grain.

I called Jon who was in the house and told him that the sheep were out.  He was getting dressed and said he was on his way out.

I went back to the barn and filled a bucket with grain.  I shook the bucket and called “here sheep, here sheep” as I walked back towards them.  Once I got to the fence in the back, still shaking the bucket, the sheep came running.

Again they all stopped at the fence, looking at me, but not coming any further.

So I backed up, and when I did, I  got my feet tangled in the mesh fencing that was laying on the ground.  But by the time I got my boots untangled,   Biddy and Kim had come through the fence and were sticking their heads in the bucket of grain.

Now there were five of the eleven sheep on our side of the fence.

I knew the sheep on our neighbor’s property weren’t going anywhere.  There was too much good grass.  So I shook that bucket of grain, and the five sheep followed me back to the barnyard.

As soon as I got the five sheep into the barnyard and closed the gate,  they started calling to the sheep who were not there with them.

Then, the six runaway sheep started calling back.

Sheep are smart enough to know there is safety in numbers.  They don’t like to be separated.  As long as they can see each other, even if there is a fence in between them, they feel safe.  But that had changed for the six sheep who were now on unfamiliar ground and separated from the rest of the flock.

Within minutes, I heard, then saw the rest of the sheep come running.  I opened the gate just enough to let them through.

That was when Jon showed up.  He kept an eye on the sheep while I went to the barn and brought back some temporary fencing and baling string to shore up the fence that Constance originally got through.

So instead of spending the day, putting up pictures from our trip and working on my Calendar Cat Quilt, I’ll be spending it putting up some new fencing.

I also have potholders to put up for sale in my Etsy Shop, but that will have to wait too.

This is the only time of year the sheep show any interest in breaking out of the pastures.

This afternoon I’ll open the north pasture for the sheep to graze for a couple of hours.  From now on we’ll be doing rotational grazing.  The sheep will graze a couple of hours twice a day in each pasture.

Since the sheep have tasted the spring grass, they’re not interested in hay anymore.

But they do have nice round bellies from five days of continuous grazing while we were away. So it’s not that they don’t have enough to eat,  they just want more.

And I can’t blame them.  I had my share of lobster when we were away and if it was as easy as slipping through a fence to get some more, I’d be doing it too.

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