Little Miss loves the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Indeed, her favourite doll is named Mary after her favourite nursery rhyme. So the recent happenings have got her so excited. She finally has sheep! Just like Mary!!
Last week, two of the neighbours sheep got into our front paddock. We didn’t mind as we’d arranged through the real estate agent for him to agist his sheep in our paddock. We wanted to focus on building our house on our property, rather than maintaining the paddock on a property we don’t own. So we were happy to continue the existing arrangement our landlord had with the farmer next door. We figured that they had water and more feed in our paddock than they had in their own, and that we’d let him know when we saw him (the phone number we had for him didn’t work). But then last night, three more sheep were placed in the paddock that our driveway runs through. I say ‘placed’ because we didn’t put them there and we don’t know where they came from.
Concerned that these three new sheep would go out onto the road, my husband set about closing the front gate. Except that someone had already shut our front gate. Hmm, so someone must’ve found them on the road and assumed they were ours. I must say, I did have lots of fun watching my husband trying to ‘herd’ the sheep up the driveway and get close enough to them to see if they had any tags. Lots of fun. Doubled over in laughter fun.
Now, not knowing how to tell who owned them, or what we should be doing about them, I reached out on the Facebook mummy network (shortly after moving I joined a couple of Facebook mothers groups for mums in the Canberra region). It wasn’t long before I got some replies from some other, more knowing, rural mums. I was advised not to put the sheep in the same paddock as the other sheep incase they were from different farmers (because one lot might have lice or something – wouldn’t want to be responsible for passing that on); make sure they have water; check is they have ID tags (Although this was proving to be quite difficult. Sheep are deceptively quick.); drop by the surrounding farms and ask if they were their sheep… Lots of good ideas. And of course there was the cheeky suggestion that five sheep would easily equate to a years worth of food in the freezer.
So today, hubby set off to the farms surrounding us.
The farmer on our left doesn’t actually live on that land, so we went to the next house along. Unfortunately nobody was home. But just as my husband was about to leave, a ute came down the driveway with two young blokes inside. Real farmers. They turned out to be the farmer next door’s nephews. Adam and Ferret (but we’re hoping Ferret is just his nickname). They were a little suspicious of my husband at first, but soon realised he was just on their property to find out about the sheep. They happily offered to come over and take a look. They showed my husband how to catch the sheep, put them on the ground and check the tag. Turns out that if you want to catch a sheep, you just grab them, any part of them. Don’t be delicate. Just grab. Catching sheep didn’t turn out to be as elusive for them as it was for us. Nope not their sheep. But the two in the front paddock were most definitely their uncle’s sheep. A quick call to their mum ensured a message got passed on to their uncle. He’d come by and put the sheep back in his paddock.
Next property – farm on the right. Not home. Property behind? Not home. Property across the road. Lovely couple, similar age to us with children a similar age to ours. Husband was mighty impressed that he has his own plane. And to think last week my husband was happy with a ride on lawn mower.I think the bar has just been raised. He also readily offered to come take a look, although he only had Dorper Sheep and we knew these weren’t Dorpers (I’d been researching which sheep we should buy a few months back, so I’ve come to know the main breeds. We also get a lot of practice spotting different sheep. Kind of like bird watching, but sheep and cattle…). Alas, not his sheep. Nobody recognised the tags either.
Being Sunday, we are leaving the whole how to contact the National Livestock Identification System until tomorrow. We figure that their offices wouldn’t be open on a Sunday anyway. You don’t actually register individual sheep like you would a dog (registering several hundred/thousand sheep would just be ridiculous), but when you buy the ID tags you register your details. So hopefully, if we give them the ID tag details, they can put us in contact with the owner. In the meantime, we’ve given them water and there is enough grass for a couple of days. If the farmer to our left picks up his sheep, we can move these three to the front paddock and they’d have enough food and water for weeks (a pretty good option for them considering the drought has meant many farmers in our area are having to buy supplementary grain). However this does raise questions… What happens if we can’t find the owners? What happens if the farmers don’t hurry to get their sheep (not very helpful having the on our driveway area when we have a very keen 50kg dog who would love to chase them)… What happens if the sheep become injured while on our property?