I headed South on my walk this morning, and stopped at my favourite weathered grey stone to sit for a spell. The dogs rustle in the grass, exploring with eagerness, as they do when they have not been to a spot in a little while. I was engrossed in the view when they alerted me to some action taking place behind me.
Peering over my right shoulder, I see a stream of white woolies cresting a hill, flowing into a hollow and disappearing out of sight. These are not grazing sheep, these are sheep on the move.
Without enough electric juice passing through the wires of the fence, there are a band of ewes who regularly take to crawling through it to graze the greener grasses perpetually located on the other side. Occasionally this renegade band can get the whole flock excited about moving and ewes pour to the fence line. I wait to see if that’s the deal this morning. The ewes reach the corner of the paddock, and confused that there is no big move, they curl inward, staying put.
The renegades slip through the fence.
I decide to alter the route home, and lead the dogs in the direction of the flock. The dogs have seen the flowing sheep in the distance and as soon as we step in that direction they amp up a notch. I’m not too sure I’ll keep five stock dogs with me while we push the ewes back, but then, if we give those ewes a surprise incentive to get back where they belong, it probably won’t hurt.
Like dogs, sheep become very familiar with routine. They will not be expecting my early morning, back door approach with five dogs.
It works like a charm.
I take the dogs across the next cross fence. Cajun has done this job so many times he performs it in his sleep, (I’ve seen him). He’s eager to go ahead, and when he does, I just let him be. The most outward ewe lifts her head, spots Cajun, lifts her head higher, spots me with four more dogs, and promptly tucks tail and flees back to the flock, alerting all others on her way.
I feel alive and satisfied as we walk home for breakfast and to start the work day.