Sheep Handling Yards - Making Progress

We are making steady progress on our sheep yards and handling area; the last of the railroad posts are tamped, the bugle is started and another gate is hung.

We needed to check on our fly struck lambs again, which meant bringing the flock to the yard to corral them somewhere. Eager to try out our new working area we brought the ewes and lambs there. We don’t have the working race yet but we wanted to see how they would flow through the alleyway.

Until now the ewes entered a small pen at the front of the building and went directly into it. Now they enter the front pen and flow alongside the building, curving around to enter at the back, thus traveling back the direction they came from, thinking they are exiting again.

Front pen, alleyway on right starting at the building
When the front of the flock approached the front pen they balked right there and we thought we were hooped. Turns out there were three guardian dogs stopped, sniffing all the new scents of building material and dogs that have been back there with us lately.

Having guard dogs who always travel with them our sheep will often be lead by a guardian dog and follow them willingly. When a dog in the lead stops, so do the sheep and it can be difficult to convince the sheep to move a different direction from the dog. I got ahead of the flock and called the dogs further along at which point the sheep began to pour down the alleyway. It was a most pretty sight.

Alleyway
We were easily able to hold the entire flock in the alley way and small back holding pen. Then, because the alleyway is narrow enough, we could walk at the back of the group, catching the lambs we needed to as the group crowded forward, and letting others slip through on our side where they stayed put behind us. It worked pretty slick for not having a working race or small pen, and we were done in a couple hours. The next time the flock is in we should have the bugle finished and the working and draft race to test out.
End of alleyway, bugle on left (with gate closed), exit to two holding pens straight away
We only had one lamb in trouble from flies and a handful that we retreated to make sure they stayed well. A vast improvement on the number we had to catch and treat the first time. Enough proof for us that fly strike is best prevented altogether but if you do have it, best to get on it early.

After doing the lambs we walked the flock back to pasture and moved them to a new piece of grass. By then it was late afternoon.

The last couple weeks have been steady with building, working sheep, treating lambs and company.  After we were done with the lambs and moving sheep, we felt like getting away for a few hours.  We made an uncommon and spontaneous decision to drop everything for the day, fed the stock dogs early, put them up in their runs, and took off the for evening. We went to the city for a fancy supper and ended up staying for a movie.  It was heaven to switch gears and turn off for awhile.

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