The sheep are wandering into the clover field more and more often and even settling down in there to chew the cud. Unfortunately their wool is getting full of dried seeds from some grasses and they are really matted around the neck. It's almost impossible to pull the seeds out, and there is no way I can comb 21 sheep.
(We have booked two slots at the abattoir for the end of October)
Well, eventually the sheep found their own way into the clover field.
What's amazing is that instead of scoffing clover all day, Elisa appears to be "managing" mealtimes taking them in there for a while and then moving them back out again. When they've had their fill of clover they always go back to chew in the main field (or in their shed if it's pouring with rain) so that seems to be where they feel safe.
Peter opened up a new gate for them so they don't have to walk through the stream on the far side of the field. He also put up a road block to stop them venturing into the arable fields (where R is harvesting). But otherwise they are free to wander... they always stick together though. We close the gates at night though and, in the morning, as soon as they see Peter they bleat like crazy until he opens the gate.
Peter has been letting the sheep go through the gate and graze in the overgrown patch between the sauna and the Rosendal oatfields. There is a stream and the lake in between so they can't wander far. The neighbour wandered over to see where all "his" sheep had gone!
At dinner time they all rushed back over to the neighbour's field for their meal. They seem pretty good at finding their way around.
Soon we will move them into the small field next to the polytunnel which we planted with clover and a few other yummy things. All in all the big field is holding out really well and seems to be enough to support 20 sheep.
There was a lot of noise coming from down by the lake at a time of day when the girls are usually relaxing, chewing in the shade. So I wandered down and I found two ewes on the wrong side of the fence in an area which is usually underwater and is full of reeds, willow, alder and birch. I have no idea how they got there though it is possible that they walked around the fence in the lake as the water level is so low. Alternatively they could have climbed up the fence to reach overhanging willow branches and then crashed down on top of it. Then again, maybe they crawled underneath but, as far as I know, only two of them have mastered that technique. Of the two who had escaped, one is a very large skittish ewe and I know for sure that I will not be able to catch her and/or lift her back over the fence.
The smaller escapee was easier to catch and I lifted her back. Then I called Peter who was at work, at lunch.
P thought that I could leave the ewe and she would find her own way back but I didn't think she would figure out the itinerary so we decided to cut the fence. I walked back to the garage to look for cutters and also grabbed a free-standing fencing panel. When I got back down the lake, another ewe had found her way out.
I cut the fence next to one of the posts and rolled back the fencing to create an opening. I then attached the fence panel making temporary hinges out of rope. Luckily it was a perfect fit. While chasing the sheep I noticed that they always ran along the fence never venturing far away from the others (who are all watching with great curiosity, as only sheep do). So I pushed the gate out at right angles to the fence and then using a long stick I coaxed them along the fence and they slipped neatly back into the field. Well, that was easier than expected!
When I arrived this evening the sheep were all on the big field and they were racing around having little stampedes which Elisa seems to initiate. It's quite frightening when they all rush over the pile of rocks. It seems like they are having fun, and there is no reason why they would be stressed. It has been raining today, possibly a storm, in fact there must've been a strong wind as I found the big inner tube that used to be on the beach right up against the sheep fence near the gate: it had blown across the whole field!
After their stampedes they were jostling each other, head butting and jumping on each other. We didn't have any of these displays of hierarchy last year but this lot are definitely more spirited (at last they are when it cools down in the evening). They are really putting on weight now and they all have lovely thick, shaggy wool.
Our "beach" on the lake is now officially unfit for sunbathing: we have squatters. Twenty-one "beach-bum" sheep. Oh, if only we had a webcam down there because we can't really see what they are up to from the cabin. I have seen footprints (and poop) on the sun-loungers and various items have been moved... In the middle of the day they all sit in the shade behind the canoe and the kayak, occasionally wandering down to the lake to drink. They barely move when Zelda goes down to go for a swim. At this rate they won't keep up with the grass growing in the field... not good! Back to work!!!
In the evening they have got used to wandering up to the gate to wait for fresh birch leaves which we cut down from the forest. They go crazy for fresh birch and will climb over each other to get the best. Here is #211 saying, "Can I have some more, please?"
We think they are starting to look nice and round, they are a good size and they all appear to be healthy and their feet are good. They are quite active, often racing from our field over to the neighbours when they see they have visitors. Very social. But I think they would be happier with a bit more rain and some cooler temperatures (I know I would be). The midday max has been over 30C for as long as we can remember (about 2-3 weeks).