Catching Sheep (part 2)

As we were eating our lunch, my Dad and sister turned up. My sister was home for a week before heading back down south to start her 3rd and final year of university, and wanted to see her nephew before she went. She had agreed to babysit for us and Dad very kindly offered to help us with the sheep. We headed out and after much pointing, discussion and use of string, we had a handling race and pens set up. Then we had to get all the dosing guns set up and calibrated, and we were ready to start. The job was to catch a sheep, put her in the weigh crate and record her ear tag number and weight. Then she needed 2 abortion vaccines, a worming drench and a fluke drench, with a green spot sprayed on the back of her head to show that she’d been done. We got a bit of a system going and things went fairly smoothly, with DH catching, me dosing and Dad recording and spray marking.

For any readers who don’t know my Dad, I’ll try and describe him for you. He is a tall, good-looking man in his 50’s. He is patient and kind, and always has a listening ear and will help you in any way he can. He doesn’t like sheep much, having done his share of sheep-wrestling about 20 years ago. He runs a business as an IT consultant, which is fairly sedentary and suits him just right as he’s not keen on physical exertion, but I believe he does sometimes have to crawl around under desks or mess about up ladders when installing computing systems for some of his clients. Even though he was out helping us he was still ‘on call’, and had several phone calls while he was with us. It was quite comical really, my Dad standing in the middle of a barn, wearing wellies and his gardening clothes, a notebook in one hand and his phone in the other, calmly informing his caller that he was out of the office and would have to look into whatever the issue was later, all with a lot of bleating and clanging of gates in the background. What his clients thought I do not know! The only problem is that he would wander off with the notebook or some other essential piece of equipment and we’d have to run after him to snatch it back. We greatly appreciated his help though, and we got regaled with plenty of ‘dad jokes’ and awful puns, which kept us entertained. I think DH may had to restrain himself from throwing something in his direction every now and then!

After 6 hours of gathering up sheep, we got them all sorted in 2.5 hours, which was much better progress. Unfortunately I had to go out milking so DH and Dad had to load the sheep up and take them to their new homes. Aunty had had a great time playing with Mr T, and when I went in to get changed for work they were busy playing with a drum. I didn’t get home from work until 7pm, and came home to find him out cold on the sofa, he was that worn out. DH suggested fish and chips for tea, so I went out for some and when I came back T was still asleep. We sat on the floor of the living room watching The Great British Bake Off, our bodies aching as we were both used to milking cows, which only really works the upper body, whereas sheep handling affects your legs and back quite a lot. I tried to wake T up to give him something to eat, but the poor little boy was so tired he sat up, looked confused, and fell asleep again bolt upright! It was an early night for all of us that night, but we were happy that we’d got all the sheep dosed and moved at long last. They are now split into two groups, one half a mile down the road, the other a 15 minute walk up the fields behind our house, so daily checks are so much easier now, and if anything was to go wrong and we needed to move or catch any sheep, it will be easy enough to run back home for equipment or a trailer.

The next big job will be sorting them all by size and breed ready for tupping (mating) season, but that won’t be until early November so we have time to let them settle and make our plans for that!

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