Saturday, December 28, 2013

the black sheep


Born to be scratched
This time of year the girls are so laid back and docile. Pregnancy seems to calm any nervous edge and they all want to come in for extra love and scratching. 90 or more percent of my ewes are not bottle fed but are dam raised. I actually tend to keep my contact with them at a minimum for the first few days after they're born, so I don't disturb that sweet mom and lamb bond. Sometimes nature is just best being left alone. So my bond with the lambs starts much later in their lives and so that bond is earned by trust rather than by luring them with a milk bottle. And I don't know if you've ever tried to make a sheep do anything but if you have, you already know that it probably didn't work out so well :) So making them be friendly or like being handled will mostly just frustrate you. The guys around here could probably write their own post about that!

I've actually found that with patience, the girls in their own time, come around just fine. But it does take a lot of patience. I take advantage of this time of year though when they're feeling lazy and extra affectionate, to spend as much time with them each day as possible. The girls will follow each other and even the most leery and skiddish of the flock eventually give in and come on in for a cheek scratch. Some seem to be just curious about the whole cheek scratching thing until they experience it, then they're believers! They love smelling my face, nibbling my hair and will stomp at my jacket with their hooves - like how come this isn't wool like mine. Ha. (I'm REALLY baaaad at sheep humor - told ya :) )
hmm...that chin scratching is looking kinda nice
fine..I'll try it out
They love following me around the field too. They will follow me anywhere I lead them and won't stop until I do and then it's right to my side and under my hands. Leading them seems to play an important role in the shepherd-sheep bond. They're loyal loves and it shows me too that loyal is what they want to be.
what is this thing and why isn't it scratching our cheeks
I've entertained the thought of getting a herding dog many times but honestly, so far I've not felt like we've needed one. The girls come when I call and will follow me into the barns and outside of fencing and into new paddocks and strange places. Our flock is still small enough that I can form or already have formed bonds with each of them. They all have names - the ID tags are for the guys, since the woollies all look like white sheep to them.

People are different and so are the needs. No judgment here. I'm often the black sheep in many ways and sometimes it suits me here on the farm too. But my woollies..well they like black sheep and so I fit in just fine with them :)