Our Featured image (above) shows Mo - seemingly unaware of two lambs behind her (bless)!
The sheep in Shropshire don't give up too easily
Herding began well on Saturday, when we took Carew and Kay to Shropshire to gather sheep for shearing, but unfortunately the ewes and their lambs were determined not to be gathered easily. Splitting into two or even three groups, some fled from the dog at high speed while others opted for attack.
The task was a big one for Carew to manage alone, so I decided to let Kay go around the fields and bunch the sheep up, saving Carew's energy for the challenging task of herding the ewes and their lambs into the yard. Unfortunately Kay's not as fit as she was, and she soon showed signs of fatigue. The sheep bolted to a field at the foot of the hillside with Kay unable to stop them.
I put Kay back into the car and Carew brought the ewes and their lambs back out of the field with no problem at all, but then the crafty leading sheep bolted back up the steep hill and were out of sight before the rest of the flock were through the gate. By the time Carew was in a position to do anything about it, the leaders had gone through an old overgrown hedge and into the next field.
At this point we were struggling. With shearers patiently waiting for the sheep I was sending Carew and Kay this way and that. The sheep were dodging through the overgrown hedge and back again, sometimes running for all they were worth and sometimes challenging the dogs. It was descending into chaos. The picture below shows an aggressive sheep threatening Carew.
Carew's wonderful at standing her ground when she's under threat, but Kay's not so keen to face an aggressive ewe so she was picking and choosing which ones she wanted to move. At one point I called Carew back to me and Kay decided to come too - straight through the flock (above).
Kay and Carew managed to get the sheep back into a fairly orderly bunch, but getting them into the pen was a different matter. Luckily Will and Ruth had Mo, Carew's half-sister, with them and, although Mo has a curious way of working, her backwards and forwards action was a great help in moving the stubborn flock.
By this time both Kay and Carew were very tired and, even with Mo's help, the sheep proved very awkward. It took three dogs and three adults, together with a lot of shouting and waving of arms, to push the ewes and lambs into the stock handling pen.
We've always been very fond of Mo (a daughter of Mel and Glen). It's a long time since Mo left here so it was particularly pleasing to see her working alongside Kay and Carew.
Once the sheep were safely inside the sorting pens the sheep shearing got underway. The dogs were only occasionally needed to help push sheep up the ramp and onto the shearing trailer.
In the picture above, Will and his son Mikey are shearing whilst Ruth wraps the fleeces, stores them in the wool bags (and does the thousand and one other jobs that need doing at shearing time).