It is a trip to think that the year of the Sheep/Ram/Goat is more than halfway over!
Chinese New Year is celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The winter solstice always falls on December 21st. This year the next new moon is on January 10th 2016, and the second new moon is on February 8th 2016.
For us this year was defiantly a year of sheep. We took on this new project without realizing this coincidence. Our introduction to keeping sheep began with a fair bit of drama and sorrow when Rusty died within 3 days of bringing him home.
I spent the next couple weeks with a six week old lamb (Lulu) at my heals/on the couch.
We managed to find Lulu a buddy and our tinyflock was created.
Last time the vet was here she commented about how she “wouldn’t wish bottle babies on anyone” and I have to agree. Talk about demanding and that’s when they are sober! I am very grateful that Lulu and Daisy don’t drink all day anymore and even more appreciative that they get along so well.
Taking care of two (now) large animals has been so different than every other experience in animal husbandry we have had. It has been a rewarding challenge and A LOT of fence moving.
Fall has offered us a break in the constant battle to keep them out of the gardens. They seem to leave the mature tall crops alone (for the most part) and so they spend many hours each day roaming the yard and woods.
One of the things you have to watch with all sheep is their tendency to ‘bloat.’ Brought on by the rapid intake of immature, highly nutritious green legumes (alfalfa or clovers.) This is usually a situation created when flocks are turned out to pasture. We have no pasture on the homestead; even so, we limit their free grazing time and give them pellets and hay to round out their diets. They will eat all day if you let them and bloat can cause death very quickly.
Due to the rather traumatic beginning of our keeping sheep we are always very worried about what they eat. As time has gone on they have sampled pretty much everything on the property and suffered no ill effects (fingers crossed, knock on wood.)
We have had a couple scares. Like when I would come home from work, well past dark and find them on the deck- trying to get in the house, fat and round from hours of unchecked grazing. Often times the method of escape left no evidence, then we realized that Daisy was getting on her knees close to the ground, nosing her head under the fence and then just KEPT ON PUSHING, leaning her now substantial weight on one point till she oozed out to the other side and FREEDOM!
It was pretty funny to watch.
They are such interesting animals.
I have come to truly believe that say ‘people are like sheep’ is beyond disrespectful to the sheep. They are strong, patient, willful animals. Ours are very affectionate, I suppose it could have something to do with them being bottle reared. They are very smart and endlessly curious. Their fascination with the camera made it hard for me to get any good pictures of their sweet faces.
They are about as obedient as the dogs and when motivated by grain (or as I like to call them “shut-up pellets;”) far surpass the two youngest canines in this regard.
They are strikingly beautiful creatures. It is such a trip to look out in to the yard and see these beasts, hanging around.
Lulu’s eyes are transcendent.
With their horizontal pupil and brown to green pigmentation they are some of the prettiest eyes I have ever seen. Daisy’s doe eyes are not far behind and her eye lashes go for days…
Lulu and Daisy have earned their keep and the back lawn has hardly seen the lawn mower all summer.
I gave Lulu a mow hawk so I could have some wool for a project and she could be Mr. T for Halloween.
“I pity the fool” who gets in the way of this sheep and her food.
And we have two new reasons not to leave the screen door open.
As if we needed anymore of those. This is actually how I tell they are done grazing and up to no good, back to the paddock with you!
Thank you for reading and be well!