Postcard: Drafting Sheep in New Zealand

By Sarah Bray

Published on October 26, 2012

It was stupid of me to wear open-toed shoes when I visited Cape Campbell Farm, a windy, mountainous property on the Pacific coast of New Zealand's South Island. More stupid, perhaps, to volunteer to sort, or draft, the farm's sheep, a tough, semi-wild breed that came up to my waist, but Rob Peter, the farm's owner, had made it look so easy. I found myself standing next to a narrow channel of sheep with my hands on different gates, ready to direct them into distinct pens. They were marked with colored chalk—"Orange to your left, blue to your right, unmarked straight ahead," Rob explained. "And careful of your fingers; they've got very hard heads and will be running very fast." Then he unpinned the sheep and set the dogs barking. Large, scared, jumpy animals that they are, the sheep stumbled over each other, scrambling to get out through the narrow passage, as I tried and failed to keep up. At least my toes didn't get trampled! —Sarah Bray

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