Raising Sheep

In case anyone is interested, the lambs in the last post were Denzel (black lamb)  and Dmetri (CVM). I choose names alphabetically, which makes my life easier. I don’t have to pick a new theme every year, but I still have enough leeway to name babies appropriatly. And it makes it easier for me to tell what an animal was born. I have animals that came in already named, so there are a few that have names that don’t fit, but for the most part I know that anyone who’s name starts with a D was born in 2004. I’m up the H’s now, so my lambs this year are Harriett, Hermione, Hannah, Heidi, Hasna (the ewe lambs), Halsey, Heller, Horatio, Hugh, & Hubble (the ram lambs).

Raising sheep is a lot like raising children. You need to be really strict about certain behaviors. We don’t let the lambs do anything at 20 pounds that we are not willing to tolerate when they weigh 200. This is especially true of the rams. I enjoy being able to walk into my ram pen without fearing for my life, and any ram that is not willing to live with the fact that I am the boss doesn’t get to stick around no matter how beautiful he is. They can just be too dangerous. Even my daughter knows to deck the little boys if they start giving her attitude. A lamb that swings his head at you to get you to move out of the way when you are pouring grain is just steps away from hitting you for real. Not ok in my book. At about 18 months we have to re-educate a few of them. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m nuts, since I am not above chasing a teenage ram around his pen cuz he gave me an attitude. I yell, slap, stomp my feet, all sorts of things to reestablish the fact that I am queen of all I see. I try to catch them when they just start thinking they could take me. There’s a certain look they get, or they lower their head and back up a step. I’ve learned to read them pretty well, and we don’t have too many problems. My first ram was a real pain, and the kids couldn’t go in the pen at all, and I only went in if I had a stout stick (and used it on him more than once)

This doesn’t mean my animals are afraid of me. When I walk in the pen most of them cluster around to see if I brought any goodies. I can walk up to most of them and hand out nose pats or scratches, and even the most timid will come up to say hi when I sit on the edge of the water tub. I believe that, as with children, the beasties just want to know who the boss is and what the rules are. If you won’t step up, someone else does. Once the pecking order is established, there really are very few problems. The animals all know who’s at the top of the class and where they stand, and to them it is very comforting. They know who they can push around, and who they need to give ground to. When I bring in a new adult there is some tussling while that animal figures out their place in order, and then everything settles back down again. I’ve just rigged things so I am always at the top of the pile. And I think this holds true for most populations, human or animal.

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