Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pearl the Baby Escaped

The other day the sheep had too much grass to finish up eating in the morning and so i decided to keep them in the same paddock through mid-day; i would rotate them (i.e. move them to a new paddock) between my regular job.... doesn't take too long usually anyway and they are next to the road, which means it is nice and easy to go back and forth should i forget something or need some tools/supplies -- which pretty much, no strike, i almost always do (i.e. actually i think so far it's been every time that i forget something and have to go back to the barn).

In any case, that was the plan... a nice small break from a busy day at work. So, i go down ,start setting up the netting for the new paddock right next to the existing paddock. But to do so, as i have previously done, i have to kind of move over the existing netting so that the 2 don't touch each other and i do not lose precious grass for the sheep.

(For those of you who might not be as familiar with electric fences, an electric net is a net made of plastic, poly-wire, and very small conductive metal filaments, which carry electricity, if connected to an energizer, throughout the netting. There are also plastic stakes which are set into the ground so that the net can stand on its own.)

OK, lessons aside, i was saying that here i was doing the usual thing of setting a new net adjacent to the old one and picking up some of the stakes from the old one to make room for the new stakes... and then: as i lifted the net maybe 12" from the ground, being VERY conservative, and snap! Pearl is out... went under the net within seconds and is now looking around and eating every leaf she can.

Meantime ,the other 2 are like... ooh sweet how did she get out, let's go join her since we have no more decent chow in here... especially Pearl's mother Mara who is such a stubborn driven sheep when she's hungry -- well that would be all the time since she's always hungry.

All this happening in about 2 minutes... now Pearl has figured out that she's all alone out there and her flock is inside the fence... that's not looking good: she has food, but no flock, and now she has me trying to get her, gently, but intently, by the horns and to send her back. So what's next? Before guessing, remember Pearl is young and inexperienced... Anyway, she runs top speed into the old netting; straight on into 3' of netting, not even trying to jump it!

Thank God, the energizer was off and no electricity flowing because within the same 2 minutes i just mentioned, Pearl is completely caught and tangled in the fence: horns, legs, etc. She's falls to the ground and is struggling and gets herself even more tangled. Meantime, while i go over trying to free her up without scaring her even more, the other 2 are looking at a net down to the ground and easily passable. But fortunately the leader of the pack, oops flock and Pearl's mother, Mara is a bit worry about her daughter and hesitates. Because you must know where Mara, goes everybody follows. Now, Mara is essentially weaning Pearl and has placed much of her energy lately into getting food and more food, but mother instinct must have called on strong and that hesitation gave me just enough seconds to grapple and free her baby and get the net back up.... all sheep in and all fences working! Phew...

The end of the story: for 3 days Pearl was petrified of me; somehow i was responsible for sending her into the netting. However, being her mother's daughter, that did not last because i am the one who provides food, new leaf, and yeah candy too in the shape of grains once in a while! She does do her own thing now though when i rotate them and set up new paddocks! A moment in a day on Stark Hollow Farm.