Sunday morning dawned with clearing skies and sunshine. A wonderful respite from our dreary fall rain. My friend Cindy invited me over to help with vaccinating over 500 ewes at Ronnie Smith's farm.
The day for Ronnie and his workers started well before Cindy and I arrived.
All of these sheep (click for larger view) were gather from the fields and...
...stuffed into this paddock next to the sheep barn. It may not look like it in this picture, but there are approximately 500 ewes in this paddock.
The object of the day was to push groups of ewes from this paddock into the lower part of the barn, where they are held and shoved up a ramp into a chute in the upper part of the barn - tightly packed to minimize movement - vaccinated, the released to wander back out into the fields.
Our first job of the day was to help Cindy refill syringes (I didn't get any pictures of that because my hands were occupied trying not to vaccinate myself). After a little bit Cindy sent us down to the lower part of the barn to help push the sheep up into the chutes.
Lots of sheep awaiting their turn.
Ronnie & his faithful dog standing in the chute checking to see how long before the next batch needed to be pushed up the ramp.
Right before they would finish with the batch he would have Beth and me start pushing the sheep from the far end where he and Pedro would force them up the ramp to the chute.
Beth enjoyed this part.
The sheep were a wee bit cheeky and did not hesitate to challenge Beth.
She wasn't quite sure how to approach sheep that did not move when she stared at them.
One ewe in particular was being a resistant pain. She even dared to walk up to Beth and sniff her face. Beth bared her teeth at her. She then decided to test Beth and WHAM turfed her. Beth bounced back up and went at her. I grabbed her leash and pulled her back. After talking to Cindy I learned that I should not have corrected Beth's reaction, rather let her take a piece of the ewe's hide off. Lesson learned...
Looking at the next picture, I can understand why you never put your dog in a down this type of a situation. Kinda puts them at a disadvantage eh?
Cindy is showing Pedro how to set the syringe to measure the correct dose of vaccine. (see Ronnie in the background peeking).
Pedro and Cindy had a good system going.
He was Johnny on the spot refilling the syringes. Not like me who was being too 'nursey' and muttering things about 'aseptic technique' and 'cross contamination' which led to my banishment. Things like that just don't apply in vaccinating sheep.
Cindy stabbed over 500 ewes. I don't know about you, but my arm would have fallen off.
Brill, (formerly Kiddo) was assisting too.
They made good time. All the sheep were vaccinated before 10 am.
As they got down to the end the ewes were released, ready to stuff more into the chute.
From where I was in the lower part of the barn I could see the freshly vaccinated sheep running for the pasture.
Time for the next batch
As we pushed from below the sheep would begin up the ramp, then turn the corner down the chute. Where Cindy would begin poking them in the butts with a crook - packing them tightly into the chute.
When the chute was full, they would close the door and we would wait for the next batch.
As needed we would head into the paddock to push more sheep into the barn.
We didn't do much other than stand there and play 'road block'. When working with a flock of sheep this large they can spill away from pressure (unsure of how to explain this properly), not neccesarily going where you want them too
Think of a large rock in a stream. The water pours down the stream around the rock. The same thing can happen with a person or a dog when moving a huge flock of sheep. If you push in one spot they can simply spill around you like a rock in a stream. Instead of going where you want them too (in the barn) they go the other direction...*sigh*.
Oft times it takes more than one dog. Or in this case Ronnie and his dog and one inept person with her dog.
In case you were wondering *raises hand* I was the inept person. I don't think my ineptitude had anything to do with the camera I had stuck to my face. Do you?
On more than one occasion I heard "WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING".
Then Ronnie would turn and look at me, standing in the wrong place...shake his head. My cue to move....
Once the barn was refilled the process would continue.
Upteen gazillion times.
Soon all the sheep were back where they started from, happily grazing in the pasture.
In the shadow Mount Rainier
Tired, but happy border collie