This was the day to take the lambs to the butcher. They were supposed to be there early, so I wanted everything to go smoothly in the morning. In order to make that happen, yesterday I spend a couple hours making a chute/loading ramp thing out of old pallets and pieces of plywood. Through trial and error I got the ramp positioned at an angle that the sheep would willingly walk up it.
I sorted out the sheep that were going on the trailer, getting my ankle trampled badly in the process. Ignoring the swollen ankle, I spent some time with my good dog Hank training the sheep to load in the trailer until they would eagerly hop in there, and I rewarded them with a little grain each time. Like I said, this took me a couple hours in all.
So this morning when Master and I rolled out of bed at 6:30 and began to hook up the trailer (pre-breakfast and pre-coffee, mind you) I figured that would be the hard part. Our trailer hitch is a bugger and a half. I don't know what they were thinking with this design, but surely there has to be an easier way to attach a trailer to a hitch than this. Did I mention that it was -12F this morning? Oh yes. Lovely day. At least it wasn't snowing.
The hooking up of the trailer wasn't going well. It was nearly on, but not quite seated right, so Master said I needed to load up the sheep, then he'd drag it a few feet and then it would settle on better once the trailer was broken out of the ice and was more manouverable.
I took Hank to the barn, brought the sheep over and they walked right into the trailer with Hank herding them just like we'd taught them. Yay! Victory, right? Oh no.
The car could not pull the trailer out of it's frozen position. This was one of the many times I wished for a four wheel drive truck instead of a minivan. We threw some gravel under the tires, but still no luck. The trailer was just too heavy with all those sheep, and the ground was too slick. So Master said unload the sheep, then we'll move it forward and re load them. I knew it wasn't going to be as easy without the ramp and set up that I had built, but I unloaded the sheep anyway. About that time my toes were really starting to hurt from the cold.
Then I tried to shut the trailer gate and CRACK the piece of wood that it was attached to split straight down the middle. I just about cried. Master told me to go get him some tools and warm up in the house a little while he fixed the trailer gate. After I got the tools and warmed up I went back out to hand him screws and things.
He fixed the gate, got the hitch attached with much pulling and prying and lifting, then managed to get the whole thing moving down the driveway. Now we just had to put the sheep back in.
The ramp was now too steep, without the snow bank I had prepared to flatten out the angle, and there was no chute to funnel them up the ramp, so they wanted nothing to do with it. In fact, they looked at it and you could see in their little dopey sheepy faces "That's just not possible, lady, we are not mountain goats!" The only other choice was to grab them one by one and lift them in. So that is what we did. Hank contained them in a corner while Master and I bodily hauled each sheep up and set it in the trailer. Some of those buggers are fat and heavy too!
This worked ok until we got down to only two lambs left- of course they were the two flightiest ones because that is how these things work. First they dodged away under the barn and Hank brought them back. Then they dodged away into a shed and we cornered one and grabbed it. Master put it on the trailer while I worked the gate. The last lamb was no where in sight now. I sent Hank one direction to look, but he knew better and ran off in the other direction- quickly coming back with the missing sheep. We cornered it, grabbed it and got it in the trailer.
So, they were finally on their way, only two and a half hours after they were supposed to be gone. Luckily the butcher was very understanding of our disasters and didn't give us any grief.
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