Our pasture cannot support our sheep. There's almost nothing there for them to eat. They have eaten the grass down to the dirt and without any rain, it can't keep up. We don't have any hope of the grass growing unless we keep the sheep off it. Which means moving them onto someone's pasture or fencing them up by the barn and paying for hay and grain.
So far, we've moved the rams to a fenced-in, filled-in pool in our friends' backyard. We've moved wire fence panels around our backyard for the ewes and lambs. And now we've tried moving them to pasture in the next town over.
Every day, on Joey's drive to work, he noticed an empty fenced pasture filled with overgrown grasses. He found out who it belonged to and asked if we could pay to keep some of our sheep there for awhile. Luckily, the guy who owned the pasture didn't want any money for the use of his pasture, so it seemed like a pretty good deal. Joey spent a couple nights last week walking around the fence and looking for weak spots or holes and yesterday, he bought some new fence posts and wire and worked in the hot sun for 4 hours, fixing the fence so we could bring the ewes over to stay for a few weeks.
We borrowed the neighbor's sheep trailer, loaded the 6 ewes, and drove them to the new pasture. Unfortunately, there was no way to get the trailer close to the pasture gate because of trees and toys in the guy's yard. And the sheep aren't halter-broke so we had to try to push each sheep individually towards the pasture gate. And when they didn't cooperate, Joey carried them. We were very afraid of them getting away from us, not only because they are flighty, but also because the pasture is next to the county highway and we didn't want the sheep running into the road.
After carrying two over, we could see that the barbed wire fencing was way too far apart for our small sheep. And a minute later, one ran right through the fence and bolted. After a couple of frantic minutes chasing it around the trailer, we finally got it back inside. Joey carried another ewe to the pasture, hoping that if they were all in together, they would stay put. At this point, we were drenched in sweat, exhausted, and starting to feel all the work had been in vain.
I know that Joey was frustrated from working on the fences all week and all that day, but I didn't want to risk the sheep getting out. I was pretty sure if one jumped out, they all would follow. He told me it was my call and I felt pretty terrible about making a decision because he had done so much work, but we decided to take them all home again.
So after many wasted hours of maneuvering sheep and trailers, we're back to square one again. And we're running out of options. Hay is expensive because it's been so dry. We have too many sheep on one acre. And we haven't made a single dollar of profit in the two years we've had them. The are beginning to feel like a very expensive, back-breaking, heart-breaking hobby. I guess this is farming. And we are figuring things out the hard way. It's not for the lighthearted and empty-walleted.
We might have to sell the lambs sooner than we thought.