The Great Escape(s)

It’s been an eventful week, even if I don’t have any pictures to prove it. I keep forgetting to take my cell phone with me when I go out to the sheep, so this is a rather text-heavy post.

On Thursday of last week the sheep got out into the middle pasture again and absolutely would. not. come. back. Having another ram with ewes right on the other side of the fence proved to be more provocation than Duke could handle, and he tried to jump the fence. Unfortunately for him, he somehow got one of his massive horns stuck through the cattle panel and wrapped around a T-post… about three and half feet off the ground.

I don’t know how long he was stuck like that since Watcher was still pretty out of it and didn’t sound the alarm, but when I went out he was standing on the tips of his hind hooves and bracing his forelegs against the fence to take the weight off his horn. It took me ages to figure out how to get him out, since the diameter of the T-post was larger than the space between his horn tip and his jaw. I really should have taken a picture; it shouldn’t have been logistically possible for him to get stuck that way in the first place, but he managed it. And I did manage to get him out, eventually.

Friday, he decided to go for the more direct approach. Instead of going over the fence, he bashed through it and proceeded to try to kill Liam. And Barney too, just for good measure. For some reason he’s never acted aggressively towards Neo, at least not that I’ve seen. I’d like to attribute that to paternal affection, but I suspect it’s partially because (unlike Liam) he’s wethered and partially because (unlike Barney) he’s just too little to seem like a threat.

I don’t know how long that went on either, because Watcher still didn’t sound the alarm. It took two people and a lot of chasing and arm-waving to get Duke back in his own pen. Oddly enough, after that it was pretty easy to get Princess’s group back up to their clubhouse away from Duke.

That evening Watcher sounded the alarm because Duke was scratching himself on the fence. Thank you Watcher.

Things were relatively peaceful for a while after that, except that Nova kept looking over at her aunties and crying, which kept setting Watcher off. I also started feeding the sheep hay, since the pastures are looking pretty ragged.

Then yesterday, Duke decided to be cunning and sneaky, and bypass both the cattle panels and the OuchyZappyFence. His group has free access to both the ram pen and the old horse pen, so he bashed out through the old horse pen and then tried to bash in through the back of Princess’s field. The Duchess and Lady took advantage of the newly-created hole and set off to explore the hay field where there are Not Supposed to Be Any Sheeps. I wasn’t home for that one, but I’m told it was a lot of fun getting him and the girls back in.

If Duke could write, I’m pretty sure he’d have a map like this in his files somewhere:

Escape

Escape one in red- Unsuccessful. Also embarrassing. Make better allowances for horns. Escape two in blue- Escape was successful, but was interrupted before termination of rival could be completed. Escape three in green- Gate forced successfully, but unable to penetrate woven wire fence.

He spent the rest of yesterday and a good bit of this morning trying to bash the horse pen gate again, but so far it’s still holding. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the boys when breeding season is over. In the summer it was fine to keep Duke and Barney in the old horse pen, but they can’t stay there through the winter. I suppose I’ll figure it out at the last minute. That seems to be the usual pattern.

Meanwhile, the sheep are enjoying getting some hay. I’m not giving them a lot since they’re still eating a lot of grass, but it’s enough to make up for the not-so-great pastures.
image

“Wait your turn, boys. This is a maitriarchy, the girls eat first!”
I’m sure there’s some good sheepy reason why, despite having three hay feeders with identical hay, they all insist on eating from the same rack at the same time. They eventually make their way through all three racks, one at a time. It makes for a lot of pushing and shoving and stepping on each other, but I suppose that must be the way they like it.

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