View Full Version : A simple incident that gave much pleasure.

9th May 2014, 18:23
Driving home from Perelada to Vilamaniscle today, we rounded a corner and found the road completely blocked by a stationary flock of sheep. A large flock. Another car had stopped coming the other way; the sheep were as usual confused and lost. And not a human in sight.

Suddenly two large sheepdogs appeared, cut the flock into packets, ordered them in line, and persuaded them to go down a track on our left. Some sheep bolted up a bank - a dog went after them and got them back. In maybe twenty seconds the road was completely empty of sheep. And one of the dogs, as he moved the last sheep off the road, turned to us with a grin on his face, clearly pleased with his work.

And still not a human being in sight. Lovely incident.


9th May 2014, 18:45
The Westmorland Gazette in England runs a Spot The Dog contest where they edit out the sheepdog and you have to guess where it is. Rumour has it some dogs have had winning entries - but the editors claim they never allow the dog in the actual picture to enter that week. ;)


9th May 2014, 18:46
Get it on video next time.

9th May 2014, 18:47
Extreme Sheep LED Art - YouTube

9th May 2014, 19:18
'A large flock'

I can see your predicament OFSO...spoilt for choice!:E

9th May 2014, 19:36
A most strange occurrence happened as I read the OP's words and looked at the photo. Either one has just had a large dose of deja-vu OR a similar/same post was made perhaps within the last 2 years :confused::eek:


9th May 2014, 19:41

Great story.

Re "as he moved the last sheep off the road, turned to us with a grin on his face, clearly pleased with his work."

I have a Kelpie, my second one and was talking with my GF yesterday when she said wouldn't it be good if they could talk to you.

I said they can, you just need to know the expressions on the face and
the different woofs.

Just this evening, mine went "woof" once in the total darkness,
letting me know she wanted to go out. But if someone comes up
the driveway, it is a bark or more than one loud bark.

Anyway, great story and they are great dogs !

John Hill
9th May 2014, 21:18
Sometimes it is best to just open the thermos flask and wait while they go by, 6000 in this small flock.


Of course dogs can talk otherwise how could the sheep know what the dog needed them to do? Indidently, as you know, pigs do it better or did you not watch Babe?

9th May 2014, 21:22

I know a lot of farmers wish more drivers would do that sort of thing.

John Hill
9th May 2014, 21:28
One of our farms was five miles from another with a busy road to connect them. The dogs were very good at getting the sheep to walk up the grass verge but it was very dangerous for the dogs and some got hit by cars.

9th May 2014, 21:32
Haven't seen any hit but I have seen a few farmers get damn angry at drivers who don't stop or slow down.

Most of the times I have been stationary myself and stunned when
people push past you to drive on.

In fact, some farmers are amazed you actually stop !!!

9th May 2014, 21:39
drivers who don't stop or slow down

Terrible. As you may gather from my OP, I take great delight in watching the shepherds, their dogs and the sheep, and always stop. Usually get a cheery wave from the shepherd (often seen sitting in the shade of a tree here, while the dogs do the work).

9th May 2014, 21:42
Yes, I like to watch as well.

I have also had to move a few flocks of sheep.

I think the biggest was 1000 sheep or just over across a huge paddock but all went well. You only need to identify the leaders and get them in the right direction and then follow up the rear, pick up the stragglers.

9th May 2014, 22:39
I think the biggest was 1000 sheep or just over across a huge paddock but all went well. You only need to identify the leaders and get them in the right direction and then follow up the rear, pick up the stragglers.

You mean they follow each other like er sheep..................

9th May 2014, 22:41

A good flock with a good leader or couple of leaders,
yes, it is awesome.

10th May 2014, 02:38
A good flock with a good leader

I just knew someone would bring UKIP into this thread...


10th May 2014, 03:00
Not surprising most of the posters have been from NZ. Have a few sheep there, do you?

Driving a typical country road in Wales one day, I came around a blind corner to find two sheep in the middle of the road. I stopped and we looked at each other......... then they acknowledged they had been naughty and bolted back up into their field.

10th May 2014, 04:37
Need a few clues as to how you get them to go past single file. Especially when attempting to count them late at night. :p

10th May 2014, 04:44

Choke Point.

A farmer showed me - that same flock of 1000, late in the day after drenching all of them, he showed me how to count them by creating a choke point. And he got it right which amazed me.

10th May 2014, 05:11
Counting sheep ... reminds me of that old joke:-

A blonde woman was really tired of being made fun of, so she dyed her hair brown. She decided to take a drive in the country where she saw a farmer and a flock of sheep and thought, “Those sheep are cute!" She got out and walked over to the farmer and said, "If I can guess how many sheep you have, can I take one home?" The farmer, being a bit of a gambler himself, said she could have a try. She looked at the flock for a few seconds and guessed, "157." The farmer was amazed - she was right! So the blonde picked one out and got back into her car. Farmer walked up to her and said. "If I can guess the real colour of your hair can I have my sheepdog back?

John Hill
10th May 2014, 07:47
We used to count sheep using a handful of small stones, or when things got really flash, a push button tally counter.

You dont count every sheep as they are moving too fast for that, just pick out groups of, say, 20 and either transfer a stone from one hand to the other of click the counter. A surprisingly accurate method after a bit of practice.

10th May 2014, 07:55
Choke Point.

Criminal types those sheep! Always hanging around in gangs, menacing highways, addicted to grass, beating up sundry voles... They are baad mothers...!

You are right, know your sheep choke holds otherwise they will be having ewe... (oh I note you said choke point, clearly a typo)...;)


10th May 2014, 11:30
Sheep flock movements up roads are not as common in the West of Oz as they used to be - because our total sheep numbers have declined drastically over the last couple of decades due to a drier climate and a bigger accent on cropping.

However, it used to be quite a regular occurrence here, when I lived in the SE Wheatbelt, to come across sizeable flocks being moved along roads regularly. This usually came about because of the need to move sheep from distant paddocks to shearing sheds - or to move them out of paddocks in late Autumn (Fall) that were planned to be cropped.

However, many farmers were pretty casual about flock movement planning, and rarely posted roadside signs warning of flock movement ahead. This is mandatory today.
I nearly got caught early one morning, heading out to work in the old Holden ute (well, it was nearly new, then) around about 1967, I think it was.
The brother and I lived in a rented farmhouse about 10 miles (16kms) out of a small country town and we did contract work with earthmoving equipment on local farms.
I was about 18, and I was doing my normal 85mph (137kmh - no speed limits, then!) to the worksite on a distant farm, when I crested a rise in the main road where there was a slight S-bend.
As I crested the rise and swung slightly left around the curve, I was suddenly greeted - with no more than about 200 metres warning - by the sight of a flock of about 500 sheep, totally blocking the highway!! :eek:

It was a local farmer I knew, who was moving his flock up the highway in the early morning. He'd only just got the flock out of his driveway and onto the road!
I hit the brakes in total panic, as only a young bloke can do. I considered myself a fairly good driver (as we all do at 18) - but I was out of my depth!
The ute skidded to a screeching sideways halt with all four wheels totally locked up, with only about 3 metres separating the ute and the sheep!!

Talk about a "brown corduroy trousers" moment! The farmer rushed up, all apologetic, and I was virtually speechless, partly due to shock, I guess.
After a few minutes, both our shattered nerves returned to somewhere approaching normal, and I let the sheep get past me, and I continued my drive to work - with a greatly increased awareness of road conditions, and potential hazards!!

Many years later (it would have been about the late 1970's) another farmer client was moving some very valuable young ewes in a flock along a highway - and he was just approaching an uphill curve, when a fully loaded stock truck (a tandem drive Kenworth and 4 deck, 3 axle semi-trailer) rounded the curve at over 100kmh - and promptly plowed into the flock, and killed 345 of them!!

It was a total disaster for the farmer as the young ewes were worth exceptionally good money at that time, and it cut a big hole in his breeding flock, as well.

Windy Militant
10th May 2014, 12:07
A slight drift away and back from Sheep. About 1987-88 I used to travel past a dairy farm which everyday around 09:00 would let the cows out after milking.
They then used to stroll down the road to which ever fields they were to be turned into that day. This if you were lucky be the gate directly opposite the farm or if not the one about five hundred yards along the road.
This didn't worry me as I was getting paid to sit in the van and follow the ladies as it were. One day I trundled up behind an obviously important person in a large new Peugeot who was, it would seem in rather a hurry, as instead of allowing the cows to go at their own speed decided to hurry them along. Well that's when he made his great mistake. One of the cows was lagging behind the rest so what does Mr impatient do drives right up behind Ermintrude and blow his horn. At this point Ermintrude did what cows do when they are startled she stopped dead and deposited a large pat on his bonnet and then just to reinforce the fact that she didn't like being rushed she sat down. As you can imagine having a large Friesian cow do that will really spoil you day! I and the rest of the sniggering drivers drove past as he was standing looking rather disconsolate at the mess.
We used to have lots of sheep getting into the garden at home as one of our local farmers used to herd them along the road with his Fiat panda. Which is fine until you come to an opening in the hedge. Whereupon his son and dog would then hurtle around trying to get them back on the road.
They must have liked our place because one day while welding under my car I suddenly had some one stand on my legs. When I crawled out from under I was surrounded by about twenty of the blighters.

10th May 2014, 12:14
Cows, particularly with calves, are not to be trifled with. As I sit typing this I can see the local herd who have commandeered the bridge over the stream at the bottom of the hill. God help those (especially with dogs) who think they can simply cross the bridge unopposed...


10th May 2014, 12:38

With calves or not they don't stand a chance against a good Australian Cattle Dog. When moving cattle on the small farm I used to have they would often get bunched up moving through the gate due to the leaders being unsure of the new paddock which often led to the calves getting separated from their mothers. Then the mothers would try to move back to find the calves.

I would just send the dog into the mob. She would go in at ankle height, I kid you not the dog ran stretched out so that she was no higher than the ankles of the cattle. She went for the leaders nipping at their heels and it was like having thrown a grenade into the pack. The leaders would sprint forward and the rest would follow with the calves now running for their mothers. The dog would come back at my call with a look on her face that said.."that was fun, what's next?"

The Kelpie was also good at driving cattle once they were moving but he wouldn't go into a mob the way the Cattle Dog did. Very intelligent animals both of them and they loved to work with limitless energy, especially the Kelpie. My former father-in-law was off the land and told me of having to tie their Kelpies up to stop them working themselves to death on hot days.

10th May 2014, 12:46
With calves or not they don't stand a chance against a good Australian Cattle Dog

No, I take your point. The local herd rarely has to deal with dogs bred to the task. Their adversaries are generally local walkers and their pampered pooches... One or two of the local hounds took to harrying the bovine bunch but the threat of summary execution by the local farmer put a quick stop to that by their owners...


10th May 2014, 13:02
Used to work on two dairy farms at weekends as relief to the regular 'assistant'. Found the easiest way to keep the cattle under control was to release the leader and a couple of others, then only release the rest at short intervals, just enough for them to form a single file down the road. Worked most times! "Never use dogs with a milking herd", that is what I was taught and was aghast when I got to Australia and saw herds of no more than 50 to 100 milking cattle being chased around by dogs! So unnecessary, cattle know the routine and can sort themselves out, given the chance.

Windy Militant
10th May 2014, 13:11
She would go in at ankle height

That's why Corgis are low slung. There was one at the farm up the hill from my brothers place that used to hurry up the stragglers by hanging on their tails. :}

John Hill
10th May 2014, 21:29
I often see dairy herds around here comprised of some hundreds of Holstein-Friesians and two or three Jerseys. Presumably the Jersey cows are there to teach the others all things that a dairy cow must know.

10th May 2014, 21:37


Sheep know the routine, if you can get the leaders out front and going where you want.

John Hill
10th May 2014, 22:15
Sheep know the routine, if you can get the leaders out front and going where you want.

Yeabut, those leader sheep will get miles ahead especially if being driven on the road. So you have to send a dog, or a boy on a bike, up the front to keep order but that is dangerous (cars hit dog or boy on bike).

If there is no control on the leaders they will take time out to raid someone's vegetable garden while the farmer is a mile behind trying to push the stragglers along.

I guess they invented stock trucks for a reason.:hmm:

10th May 2014, 22:22
Yes, valid point.

Didn't move sheep on roads much.

10th May 2014, 22:26
I still get a tear or two when remembering New Zealand's probably most famous sheep ever, Shrek (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13690668).

At least he didn't end up in some middle-Eastern slaugther-house...?! :(


Just like Shrek someday, I look forward to being gone, but not completely forgotten.

Nervous SLF
10th May 2014, 22:31
I guess they invented stock trucks for a reason.:hmm:

Ah that could explain why in the old days in the UK at voting time the local political parties used to send cars around
to take people ( sheeple ) to the voting booths :ok:

10th May 2014, 22:36

Had never heard of Shrek.

A mate who hunts rabbits on a property came across 2 - 3 sheep like that,
that had missed the clippers for a few years and did not look good at all.
Told the farmer where they were and he got them within 6 months.

Couldn't imagine what is must be like with 3 or more years growth
and being rained on.

John Hill
11th May 2014, 01:33
Shrek was lucky in the environment where he lived but elsewhere if sheep miss shearing they run the risk of a truly horrible death from fly strike.

11th May 2014, 02:07
Also, because of the cave he was obviously able to stay out of the wet weather. I think the one's my mate found were also in rocky areas near Bendigo so plenty of cover.

27kg of wool would end up like 40 - 60kg if wet ?
I wonder if he could have carried that.

John Hill
11th May 2014, 05:39
I doubt his fleece would absorb much water unless he actually fell into a lake etc.

11th May 2014, 08:29
I found this article on herding in France...

Overview of Herding in France - Herding on the Web (http://www.herdingontheweb.com/french-herding.htm)

The shepherds here move the flocks around to different fields every few days once the grazing has been exhausted, and portable electric fences are erected to confine them, as fixed fences are practically unknown. Farmers are happy to let them graze in their orchards as the sheep so a good job of stripping away all the weeds and grass. Border collies are mostly used for herding, while the big white Pyrenean breeds are used to guard the sheep from predators.

There were some at the back of the house last spring....

http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee201/sitigeltfel/CIMG0015_zps253634f5.jpg (http://s231.photobucket.com/user/sitigeltfel/media/CIMG0015_zps253634f5.jpg.html)

...but we haven't seen any yet this year, possibly because a lot of the orchards have been cut down and burned to allow planting of fresh trees.

11th May 2014, 10:00
500N - The fleece on a sheep repels rainwater via the lanolin content. Lanolin is the greasy oil (actually sheep sebum) that makes up between 10-20% of the weight of a fleece. Freshly shorn wool has to be scoured in a special wool-scouring plant to remove the lanolin, before the wool can be used for textiles. Rainwater rarely penetrates any more than about 25-40mm on a full-wool sheep.

If a sheep falls in a lake or a pond (dam), yes, the fleece will then absorb a moderate amount of water due to total submersion. However, the % of water absorption is not as much in this case, as it is when the wool has been scoured and converted to textiles. I've dragged plenty of full-wool waterlogged sheep from dams, they aren't held back much by the wet fleece, and they dry out surprisingly rapidly with body heat.

The greater problem with a heavy fleece is insulation. If you make sheep with full wool fleeces, run for any distance in hot weather, they will often collapse from exhaustion caused by their body overheating, as the wool acts as an insulator, and won't release the heat generated by their exertion.