If you let your sheep free range on a small farm, chances are chaos will follow.
The other day, the band of roving sheep that I call my flock, decided to visit the poultry area. The chickens. ducks and rabbits have their habitats inside an electric mesh fence. When I let the ducks and chickens free range, they nicely stay within the boundaries of the fence. That’s the plan and I appreciate them living within the fence line. It’s less messy this way.
The sheep, on the other hand, can not seem to contain themselves within a soft boundary. They need a sturdy fence and not enough space between the boards to crawl under. So far, all of my efforts to give the sheep larger areas to forage and graze have resulted in sheep escaping and going where ever they please. Using a livestock netting fence resulted in Brin sticking her head through the mesh and then taking off,trailing the fence behind her. The three board fence surrounding the old cattle area has too much space between the boards. When I return, I find a couple of sheep, particularly Ike, who have ducked underneath the boards. This can be remedied with time and materials but I haven’t had time so far. So, now I often just let the sheep out and shepherd them for a while, as they wander around grazing and foraging for tasty treats.
This is how Millie became stuck on briars in a ravine recently and how this time the sheep noticed something in the poultry area that they just had to go investigate.
Because if one sheep goes visiting chances are the whole whole flock will follow.
So there we were. I am not even sure any more which woolly mammoth started the escapade. I think it was Brin followed by Ike and Joey and Bella and Annie, and Millie, Patch and Basil. All I knew was in a matter of seconds the ducks were flapping, the chickens scurrying for cover and the rabbits thumping their feet. Chaos again. Needless to say, the ducks and chickens were not expecting company and had not baked a cake. They were less than welcoming. Ducks do not enjoy visitors anyway and barely tolerate sharing a free range yard with the chickens. This was unacceptable in their book. The only thing worse in the duck’s mind would be the pigs coming to visit.
As if things were not bad enough, Annie quickly realized that the ducks had left the door open to their pen and house and she went right in. She proceeded to taste test the duck food.
Because if you have sheep in a poultry area, they will eat the poultry feed!
I chased her out but the next time I looked back, she was in the duck house with three friends eating the duck food.
Apparently, jumping over a fence to get into the poultry yard is a piece of cake but jumping out of the poultry yard is not possible. I had to take a portion of the fence down, herd the eight rogue sheep into a group and invite them to exit the poultry area. Finally they did, I put the fence back up quickly and went to see what the next adventure would be for the day.
Thanks for reading my story. I love to share the day to day life from our farm. If you want to read more from me, check out other tales on the website and also Backyard Poultry Magazine on line.