Last year, we purchased a field around 3.25 acres in size. We planted about an acre or so of natural woodland and a blackthorn hedge down one side.
The rest remains as orchard and meadow. Now that we have 11 sheep, our original field is a little small and so the grass was getting shorter and shorter, and shorter.
We had to act. We put in a new stock fence. The existing one was just a couple of strips of barbed wire, OK for cows but easy for sheep to get past. We mowed the meadow so as to get young, sweet grass growing and we cleared away all the hawthorn hedge trimmings. We cleaned up the water trough which looked as though it had been stagnant for centuries. We also installed an electric fence to protect the young hedge (they do like a bit of bark, our sheep) and tested that it worked (ouch – it does!) We also spread 5 tons of hard core under the gate as it was high off the ground and we want to keep the sheep in and dogs out (except our own, of course).
Then, yesterday evening, we gathered them and sprayed them to protect them from fly strike. Then we attempted to herd them again, but this time they were less keen to be gathered. Nevertheless, we eventually rounded them up and loaded the first batch of 5 into the trailer. This took a bit longer than it should have as they are nippy and strong and somewhat reluctant to go into the trailer.
Now, the field may only be 3 or 4 hundred yards away so you’d think it might be easier just to walk them along the road. Well, with three roads, two gates and a playing field entrance to pass not forgetting our questionable herding abilities, the trailer seemed the easier option.
We took the first 5 up to the new field and let them out. Normally, when split, there’s a lot of bleating goes on. But our 5 trotted out of the trailer, took one look around and almost skipped into the field. 5 heads were down investigated all this new grass. Not a single ‘meh’ to be heard!
So, we nipped back for the other 6. We set up the trailer, funnelled them into the race and they trotted up into the trailer without any intervention. It was as though they already knew where they were going and couldn’t wait. Perhaps the others had sent a sheepmail, not as silly as it sounds because I have read many stories about animals communicating at a distance.
We drove them the short journey to the field. They, too, were delighted with their new pasture and all 11 settled in really quickly. They are really happy and this makes us happy.