Sheep/Goat Herding: My Experience

Armed with a backpack full of necessities – lunch, sunscreen, water, a hat, sunglasses, a book – and a wooden stick with a blue plastic bag tied to the end, I set off into the never ending steppe with an army of sheep and goats (around 150 of them, although I never managed to complete a headcount. The problem with livestock is that they’re very much alive and things that don’t stay in one place for more than 5 seconds are a lot harder to count.)

At first they run, you run too, later in the day they just want to find some kind of shade to sit under/in and chill, which works out well for everyone.

I was breezing this whole herding task UNTIL…the vegetable patch incident!!!
Which saw me diving through barbed wire, exhaustedly shouting CHA! CHA! as I ran in circles around the 10-15 goats that were greedily feasting on some-(hopefully unsuspecting)-body’s vegetable patch.

From there it pretty much downhill…I had gone from watching YouTube videos of baby goats to babysitting goats. It was the absolute dream UNTIL I could not remember for the life of me what the gated back entrance to the ranch looked like or even what colour the gate was for that matter. I found myself running around the herd in circles like an actual sheepdog, having a tantrum because they wouldn’t go where I wanted them to go. I clambered up and peered over neighbouring fences desperately trying to trigger some kind of mental map of the route home.

Finally at 5.45pm the afternoon shifter came to relieve me of the nightmare that began as a sweet dream.

I am still get overly excited upon seeing a herd of goats – but don’t quick just at the chance to be their sole carers for the day anymore!!

Note: The key is to get them to the river as then there’s only one side to control. 

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