Lessons learned

I mentioned in the last post that I would have more to say about Paridot. I arrived at the pasture with a couple things I wanted to get done. First, I wanted to do some grooming on Paridot. He is a longer haired llama and was sheared just before I got him so his coat has not grown in much. This is the perfect time to start brushing him and getting him used to me handling him more. Brushing will keep his coat under control as it grows out.

Well, that was my plan – not Paridot’s. As usual, I used some grain to lure him in. He is happy to come over and eat grain. I usually hold one pan up higher and distract the sheep with a lower held pan. Wilma complicated this by showing that sheep can stand on their hind legs to reach higher-held grain.

I looped his halter lead over his neck – a technique that Julie, who I bought him from, showed me and it has worked for me in the past.  However, I fumbled getting the halter on and he quickly figured out that he could stoop and wriggle his long neck right out of the lead rope. He walked away and no amount of grain would tempt him back.

"I'm on the far side of the pasture and not coming back today!"

Lesson One learned: I have one chance to get the halter on Paridot or forget it. I may try some cob with molasses as extra incentive!

So, no work with Paridot today. Moving on, I wanted to start getting the sheep used to using the sheep stand. This is a piece of equipment I bought from Shaul’s at Black Sheep Gathering in June. It will let me have the sheep elevated to make it easier to trim hooves, give injections and other care. First, I needed to get the sheep into my Shaul’s panels so that I could get a halter on one of them. Wilma and Sid willingly went in (with some grain), so I knew it would be one of them I worked with today.

Once the grain was gone, Sid decided  maybe he could use his hooves to free himself from the panels.

"I've seen Service Dogs do this so it must work....."

So, you’ll have to used your imagination a little here. I couldn’t get Wilma up a ramp to the stand and take pictures at the same time. However, I did get a shot of Sid exploring the ramp – like I said before, anything new in the area has to be checked out by curious sheep.

All went well with getting Wilma up the ramp and getting her head secured. There is a pail of grain on the other side of the closure to encourage the sheep to face that way and not worry about what is going on (kind of like Labs, food trumps everything else).

Then, when I was planning on checking her hooves, I suddenly realized that if she stepped away from me, she could step off the stand – with her head still trapped. This was not going to work this way today. Even though she was standing calmly, I quickly released her head. I was able to take a picture of her fleece.

Look at that crimp – makes me really look forward to Shearing Day coming up Nov. 13!

Wilma was also totally relaxed when I released her and just hopped down from the stand.

Lesson Two learned: Every new piece of equipment has a learning curve associated with it. In this case, I hadn’t thought through what would happen once I got the sheep up on the stand. I think I can solve this problem by moving the stand up against the wall of either the old goat shelter or the new soon-to-be-built sheep and llama structure. Stay tuned!

Mobi, my Border Collie, waited patiently (well, mostly) in his crate in the car during all of this. I will be very happy once he is ready to start working the sheep!

Mobi- not quite ready to work yet


Published in: on October 22, 2010 at 5:07 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love reading about your adventures and I look forward to more but I like talking to you best!

  2. I used to catch my llama by having the nose of the halter open in the bottom of a bucket and while he was eating the grain easing the strap over his head. Three hands are best for this. As you found out you have one chance to make that work.

  3. My llama is much too crafty to even think about eating grain out of a bucket that I am holding 😉 Llamas are an adventure!

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