JOY Work

This entry was sent in by Sandra Allensworth on 15 April 2020.  Its title:


I had occasion recently to be standing in a corral of bleating goats, engaged in a conversation regarding sheep. Dorper sheep, in particular. These are gaining popularity because this breed of African sheep require little care, don’t need docking or shearing and appear to be parasite resistant.

The idea of easy care and the prospect of a profitable animal piqued my interest. I went home and searched the internet, viewing many U-Tube videos regarding handling, pasture, prices etc.

Then I went to bed and lay awake thinking about all that I had learned. This train of thought led to my memory of the time I had to herd some errant sheep.

A man from whom I frequently I purchased cattle and horses, offered to sell me five sheep, to see if I liked them well enough to switch to them instead of cattle. I paid him and took the sheep home. I penned them, to give them a chance to get used to their new location. I worked six days a week and so was away from the house during the day.

After a few days, I came home one evening and the sheep were gone. They  had broken out. I drove around in ever widening circles until I spotted them, grazing in a field about a mile or so from my house. Because I knew that this was bigger than me, on foot, I went to get help from my friend, Doroteo. My horse was on the river several miles away. Doroteo boarded his son’s roping horses and thought they would be sufficient to the task.

Doroteo gave me the paint. He was young and newly broke. His training had been for roping. For those not familiar with this training, the horse is taught to stop quick and go fast, in order to get the rider close enough that he can drop a rope on the calf. He really doesn’t have any other speed. He was  not a pleasure horse, nor a horse for herding or hauling. He was a specialist.

After locating an empty pen, we unloaded the horses and formulated a plan to recover the errant sheep. The sheep began moving in the general direction of the pen. I was fighting my horse’s head. He  wanted to run. Of course! He wanted to get me close enough to rope the sheep. He was getting very excited.  I kept turning him in circles, trying to get his mind off of what he thought was the task at hand.

Doroteo called out to me, “What is that noise?” I called back, “He’s chomping on the bit.” I had long heard that expression and understood what it meant, but I guess I never took it literally.

The sheep kept scattering and with our roping horses, we were just spooking the sheep. We certainly didn’t want to undo the training that his son had put in on those horses. Finally Doroteo said, “Let’s close the pasture gate and wait until tomorrow. We knew that if we left them alone, they would soon bed down, as it was getting dark. My friend promised that while I went to work the next day, he would get more help to pen them.

Doroteo asked me, on the ride back to the house, “What do you want me to do with them when we get them penned?” “Take them back to Wayne and tell him I want my money back!”

And that is why I am not sure that I want to try sheep again. I have sheep proof fencing, but?

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