Posted by: 347bennetrd | April 12, 2010


straggle 1. v.i. Stray from the main body, fail to remain compact, get dispersed, proceed in scattered irregular order; hence ~ER n .

Not sure that this definition from The Concise Oxford Dictionary 1976 conveys the meaning I am intending, but my last two days have been intimately involved with stragglers.  Sheep that fall back from the main mob and loiter about at the back like recalcitrant students are called stragglers (this fits in with our dictionary explanation), but so are any of the neighbours sheep that sneak through fences and break away from their own mob.

Last week we brought down the ewes from out the back (about 4300 in total) and there were heaps of stragglers.  I brought them up into the shearing shed pens and sorted them out.  There are two ways to do this;
1. by a plastic tag that is inserted into the ear (like calf tagging) and often with the name of the farm on it;
2. by their ear mark.  This is done at tailing time where a nick is taken out of the ear.  Each farm has its own ear mark.  Ours is one nick taken from the middle front of the ear – left ear for wethers (castrated male) and right ear for ewes.  Some of our neighbours include two nicks from front, one from tip, tip and front or tip and back.

Once all sorted out we loaded some into the crate on the back of the truck and took them round to the neighbour, a couple went into a paddock to live the life of riley and another group I had to run up the hill and pop through a gate in the boundary fence.

There were also rumours of a rogue group of straggler lambs hanging out on Oven Hill, so Blue and I cruised over in the sun (what beautiful autumn weather we’re having at the moment).  It was on Saturday so I took my time, checked out a new potential picnic spot next to the creek (not bad at all) and then went and opened up all the gates except for the last one into the neighbouring property.  Blue and I did some scouting, wandering down one ridge, along a gully, up the next rise and generally scoping out the situation.  Some careful positioning and “hey! hey!” to encourage the various groups to join up, a good scan with the binoculars to check ear marks and be sure none of ours were mixed in and then I sent Blue off to gather the 12 up and take them towards the gates.

An hour or so later we made it!  After some communication difficulties between Jo and Blue, some naughty ones popping through the fence where they shouldn’t, some judicious following round and finally we farewelled them through the last gate and back to their motherland. Yay!!

And the final stragglers incident…  Last week I was taking a mob of sheep up the hill and through pure carelessness, left two behind.  I was informed of this fact so turned back to go and get them.  Initially they trotted along nicely – I was taking them up the lane so there wasn’t anywhere to go but up.  But as we rounded the corner at the cattle yards, a pack of dogs tied up at the fence turned them back and then the fun started!   Bronc jumped off and barked indiscriminately in any old direction (not helpful).  One guy came over and helped me out with one of the ewes, joining her up to the main mob and I was left to my own devices to catch the other one and bring her along by sitting her on my bike.

Blue and I followed her down the lane (the wrong direction), he trying valiantly but ineffectually to get her to turn around, and I running after trying to catch her.  I’m not sure if any of you have ever tried to catch a ewe (my previous experience had only extended to lambs) but there are two factors;
a.  they are surprisingly fast and nimble;
b.  if you do manage to catch one, they are surprisingly strong.

And by surprisingly strong, I mean very strong.  Even with my fingers clawed into her wool the old so-and-so still dragged me along the road, my boots uselessly trying to find purchase before slipping and letting go.  Doh.  We got her into a corner and another failed attempt ensued.  By this time my feet were dragging and choice, not-for-public-consumption phrases were falling out of my mouth.  Finally she slowed sufficiently (ie sat down) for me to be able to grab her.  Only now we were miles away from the bike.  Tears of frustration were not far away, let me tell you.

One arm under her head and holding hard, the other grabbing her tail stump and trying to encourage her to go in the desired direction we slowly made it to the bike.  Only by this time I was so exhausted I couldn’t lift her 70kg weight onto the bike.  Booooooo 😦  !!!  So I let her go….   Went and got the trailer, wedged her into another corner, dragged her round and into the little trailer.  What a saga.



  1. You’re missing an r from your title!!

  2. Oh Jo, I so needed a giggle and this one did it. I so sympathise but I have also really enjoyed the entertainment. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: