It’s possible. Really, it is. It’s not even all that different from training a dog, except they’re prey animals, so you can’t be too scary. (Don’t ask about how well-trained my dog is, he’s a freak of nature and he’s too dumb to know his own name.)
So the man I buy hay from called on Sunday and said he was baling that day and if we would come pick them up in the field, they would be even less money than the crazy low price he gave me last year. And since we’ve been having so much rain, there’s not much good hay available and what there is is astronomically priced. Anyway. Of course we ran out to pick up the first of the 2 loads I need to get us through the winter. And when we got back and I went to move sheep and close gates so I could drive the truck into the pasture, I found one of my favourites with her face all torn up. I’ll spare you that grizzly photo, but I had to do a quick change of plans whereby other people (namely children) went to get the rest of the hay while I waited for the on-call vet to come sew her face back together. She is all back in one piece now and doing really well, with swelling coming down a lot already. But she needs a few doses of antibiotics, because she just does.
Which brings us to the training bit. So far, the extent of my sheep training has consisted of “wear this halter and follow me when I tug on the leash” (so we can take sheep to school to visit) and “when I am running, chase me and you’ll get a treat” (because them chasing me is much easier than me chasing them). Well, Ophelia (the aforementioned stitched up sheep) isn’t really into having antibiotics. Mostly because they are delivered intramuscularly and she thinks that’s rude. So here comes my brilliant idea to use the sheep scale I bought last fall as a chute to contain her while I inject her.
Well, nobody was too interested in getting into that scary box until I brought out the grain scoop. Luckily for me, Ophelia was the first one to squeeze in and I was able to medicate her without any of the others up in my business. Then it came time for the others to try to make their way through, and the promise of a bit of grain at the end caused a miniature stampede. Now, I only have the 5 ewes, and they’re not enormous. But then, neither is my scale (which, I suppose, was originally a hog scale). 4 of the 5 managed to suck in their guts and fight their way through the chute, but poor Blue just couldn’t manage it. Poor girl had to wait for me to drag the scale out of the way and open the gate for her. She was unusually vocal about her displeasure. She’s usually the quietest of the lot.
So training is going about how I expected. But it will make my life a good deal easier if they will catch themselves when they need vaccinations or medications.