Once again the grass is starting to show the slightest tinge of green, so I decided to let the sheep out of their pen for a few hours of wandering.
Just like in springs past, they loved it. My older ewes didn't think twice about their change in situation. The River Oaks ewes and the two ewe lambs were a little disbelieving of the sudden freedom. They spent a little more time sniffing about.
Shachah, our livestock guardian dog, was startled to notice the sheep wander up to the house. He barked a few times, and I told him 'thank you' for the notification of loose sheep. Apparently, he was willing to accept the new situation as long as I was fully aware of the matter. I more or less followed the flock around, picking up sticks and tossing them into the brush pile as I went.
Yearling Esyllt really tested Shachah's patience. She insisted on walking right up to him and investigating his face at close range. Shachah barked a warning and she didn't even hesitate to move in closer on him. He bared his teeth and she sniffed his ears. He growled and she stepped forward. I thought for sure he would knock her down at least... if not actually bite her just a little. But he never did. He was disgruntled and upset with her lack of respect, but he also seemed to understand that she was simply curious and not threatening.
I have a theory that ewe lambs are quite prissy and naughty because they expect their mommies to come thundering in if anyone threatens them. At least the ewe lambs of dominant ewes seem to do this. The other yearling, Carys, approached Shachah later and his warning barked worked on her. She gave him about 5 feet of space. Could it be that Carys didn't have as much nerve since her mother was sold last summer and she has been on her own since then?
All the older ewes either completely ignored Shachah or sniffed at him as they passed by and he didn't even mind them. And to his credit, Shachah also moved with the flock. He wasn't always close to them, but he made sure the flock was always in sight. It was really neat to watch him work!
If my schedule allows, I will let the ewes out for a few hours every day until there is enough grass in any one place to set up the electronet and keep them fed. While the grass is still sparce, though, they will continue to get their regular ration of hay.