Once upon a time, long, long ago, before I was "Judy Judy", I was Judy Shepherd. I grew up here in the mountains, but never had any sheep to shepherd! The time has come! The Royal Ranch is the proud home of a pair of breeding sheep and I plan to enjoy every minute of my shepherding duties. We have never had any kind of babies (other than human, of course) at our ranch, and it's very important to me to share this part of ranching with my kids. I strongly believe in spaying and neutering and you really have to have a large set up to breed llamas. So...after quite a bit of research, I have chosen to go back to my ancestry.
If you follow my blog on a regular basis (you really should!), then you know that we just added a rooster to our little piece of paradise, with hens on the way. Well, that's just not enough change and work for one weekend! On Sunday we got the call from the gal down the road where we got our sheep, and she said they were ready to go! I wasn't prepared for such short notice, but the family sure got excited. Poor Tom was over finally having a beer with the neighbor after I had been cracking the whip over the chicken coop. The kids ran over to get him while I got crates (which we never used, but needed in case of emergency) into the back of the truck. Tom came home, with a dirty look on his face I must say, and quietly hooked up my trailer for me.
Luckily their old home is just about five miles down the road, and for up here, that is right in our neighborhood. We got them loaded without a hitch. Paco, our ram was not too happy about being locked up and was ramming the pen that they were holding him in-made me a little nervous! I had never heard this though, that if you set a sheep up on his hind end, they freeze like a cat does when you hold their necks. The female, Esther, is a little older and a little wiser and with a little prompting loaded right up in the trailer. Paco took quite a little bit more prompting.
We got back to the ranch and really wanted to take a few minutes to plan how we would introduce them to the llamas, where they would stay in the meantime, etc. Our llama pen is about 1 acre and it is divided into three parts. We decided that the sheep could have one part, and everyone else (llamas and chickens) could have the rest. We put the llamas in the top pen until we could get the new arrivals settled. The actual unloading went very well, much better than it often does!
The sheep nervously started to explore and before we knew it they were in the middle pen, they had squeezed past one of the interior fences! Okay, we figure, they can just have that pen. Tom starts fixing where they got through, so they wouldn't get back out and suddenly I look up and the sheep had gone through the other side of the interior pen and were in with the llamas! The llamas were scared for their lives, as were the sheep. Chaos is breaking loose in the top pen and Tom is still fencing! I start screaming like a banshee to try to get the llamas to stop chasing the sheep and the sheep are bawling and the llamas screaming their danger call! Llamas are wonderful guard animals and will go after anything smaller than them, that they perceive as danger, and punch at it with their front legs, the poor sheep were able to run just that much faster, though. I was finally able to get in between the sparring groups long enough to put the llamas down in the bottom pen, seeing as how the sheep didn't want to be there.
Tom and I spend more time fixing fences and trying to settle everyone down, and head home to immediately turn into vegetables! It was a long night of worry, that Paco and Esther hadn't been eaten by something with no llamas to protect them. Before daylight I called to them, and sure enough they answered. It wasn't until daylight that I saw all ten llamas in the bottom corner of the pen. Gee, that's odd! Paco and Esther had slipped back through and were in the pen with the llamas. I realized that those sheep were going to go (within the pen) wherever they wanted too! I opened up all of the gates, and as of last evening the sheep and my hard working llamas were eating together! Animals never cease to amaze me!
The top picture is of Marcel, part of Two Eagles, Paco and Esther our new arrivals, and Thunder Boy, who, by the way, was one of the ones attacking the sheep the first day! The pic on the left is Thunder Boy, Apache and Two Eagles with their new found charges; and the one on the right is Apache with Esther and Paco.
Have a miracle of a day!