Road to Forgiveness

Apple has forgiven me enough to resume his usual habit of licking my jeans, much to my relief. I’m adding the fact that I was relieved to have him licking my jeans again to my collection of evidence that sheep have mind-control powers. “I was brainwashed by my sheep” should be a valid explanation for strange behavior in ShepherdPeople.

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“Yum, denim!”

My jeans are his favorite, but he also likes to lick his brother’s face and the cement pad under the barn walls, among many other things. If you try to shoo him off with a stick, he will completely ignore your attempts at shooing and start trying to lick the stick. I love Apple, but he is a very weird sheep. Fortunately he is both very cute and Princess’ grandson, both factors which make me tolerate his nonsense with much less complaining than I would otherwise.

Drake is also Princess’ grandson, but I am starting to get very annoyed by his obsessive avoidance of my camera. I’ve had animals that love to pose, and animals that love to photobomb pictures of anyone else (*cough-Mira-cough*) but I’ve never had a consciously camera-shy animal before.

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“Aah! A camera! Hide me!”

That was going to be a lovely shot of his face looking at me over Griffin’s back, but he jerked his head down right as I pushed the shutter button. It would have been a nice shot of Liam, if I’d managed to get his whole face in the frame. Oh well, animal photography is frequently disappointing.

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“I’m going to be king of this hill!”

By sneaking up from behind, I did manage to catch Drake getting up to mischief under the careful tutelage of Mira and Apple, hoop house climbers extraordinaire. Also Nina, who as far as I know has never climbed a hoop house, but seemed intrigued by the whole idea.

Then something off to the side startled the sheep and they all spooked away, leaving Drake briefly with no one to hide behind, and I managed to snap a picture before Drake could turn his head away.

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“Aw man, she caught me!”

Not a particularly good picture, but I felt a great sense of triumph for getting his face in a picture at all. His unerring ability to turn away or get behind someone else just in time to avoid being photographed is also going in the “sheep are telepaths” file.

Once I’d gotten the elusive picture of Drake, I decided to head back into the house. My jeans were starting to get rather damp.

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*Lick-lick-lick*

The other three Dukelings have been mostly hanging around the fence by Duke, wanting back out with the rest of the big boys. They’re pretty much recovered, so they’ll be getting their way soon. Duke, the Dukelings (except maybe Apple), and my jeans will probably be very happy about that.

Unforgiven

I am still getting glared at from all directions. My crimes are great. They may never ever forgive me for at least for another week.

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“I’m keeping an eye on you!”

You do that, Chestnut. I’m not planning anything else dastardly for the near future.

Even Apple hasn’t been obsessively chewing on me. That’s a pretty big grudge, for Apple.

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“Me and my brother are mad at you, ShepherdPerson!”

The Dukelings are feeling better except for being grumpy. They’re still walking funny, but they’re walking funny at almost normal speed. The baby boys are still taking it slow, though. Nova keeps walking all the way to the trees then realizing she left Drake behind.

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“Hey, where’d my baby go?”

The three lambs are sticking close together. I don’t know why Angel would be hanging out with the boys, unless it’s just sympathy.

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“I’m hiding behind Angel so ScaryShepherdPerson doesn’t grab me!”

Drake’s ability to avoid being photographed is approaching the ridiculous. Eventually I’m going to lose my patience and chase him all over the field with the camera until I get a clear shot.

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“Where are my Dukelings? I want my Dukelings back!”

Don’t worry Duke, you’ll get your little minions back, just as soon as they stop walking funny.

No Good, Very Bad Day

The boys, both the two rams from this year and the four Dukelings, finally had their long-delayed appointment with the vet. I think my vet and her assistant are going to need a chiropractor after wethering six tiny guys in one day. I know I could use one.

Mira and Angel refused to go out in the field with everyone else, so we had to work with Mira playing supervisor and “helping” by sticking her nose in everything, and Angel running around yelling at all of us for not paying attention to her. Bottle babies are always so underfoot. It’s a good thing they’re so lovable.

I cleaned up the area where the vet worked pretty well according to me, but according to the sheep it’s a blood-drenched crime scene to be avoided at all costs. Possibly including white chalk outlines. They all scooted out of the barn single file this morning walking as close to the edge of the aisle as possible and staring at the “crime scene” suspiciously.

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“Something very bad happened right there, we can sense it!”

The boys stayed in the lane for 24 hours after they were wethered, but today I let them out with the girls until they recover. They don’t need to have to keep up with Duke and the big wethers in their current… compromised state.

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“Mama!”

Although apparently Griffin at least wasn’t too compromised for important things like nursing. Griffin and Drake are both old enough to wean, but the boys and their mothers have both made it clear that no one asked me for my opinion on the proper weaning of lambs. Since there’s now no chance of the boys causing any unplanned pregnancies, I guess there’s no harm in letting them sort it out at their own pace.

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“Mira, will you be my girlfriend?”

All the Dukelings plus Griffin immediately started trying to flirt with Mira, which. Well. You have to give them points for resilience, if nothing else, to be thinking about flirting again that soon after such a Very Bad Day. She wasn’t in heat, so she ran off pretty quickly and they weren’t quite up to chasing after her.

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“Daaad, it was terrible!”

Duke misses his Dukelings, and I think they miss him, too. He was at the fence looking for them, and they all made a wobbly, toddling beeline for the fence to complain to him while everyone else headed for the trees at the far end of the field.

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“Don’t walk so fast, Mama!”

Some sheep made faster progress towards the trees than others.

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“You are the worst ShepherdPerson EVER!”

Grumpy Griffin and his angry little face. In this case I think he has complete justification for grumpiness. He has no way of knowing his choices were to be wethered or to be exiled to the ram pen.

Drake was even grumpier, and Nova was keeping him hidden behind her while glaring at me accusingly. I couldn’t get a picture of anything except his tail today.

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“Don’t you try to touch any of MY babies!”

Lady was also trying to keep all of her children close, even though all three of them are big and grown up now. She really didn’t need to worry anyway, since Holly is a ewe and Neo and Will already had their Very Bad Days. Fortunately none of the boys this year were as dramatic as Will Scarlet was. Nobody is as dramatic as Will Scarlet.

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“I have been faithfully waiting here all these years for you to come back…”

No one except sad Echo whose ears went unpetted for far too long while I was up at the barn. Fortunately, neglected ears are an easy problem to fix.

Getting back into the boys’ good graces is going to be a harder task. I think I’d better stock up on crunchies.

Mother Love

I try to update the blog at least once a week, but I somehow missed last week. Oh well. I suppose that means nothing terribly noteworthy must have happened.

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“zzz…”

The boys were all dozing right up against the barn doors, as usual. I reminded myself for approximately the 375th day in a row that I really need to call the vet about getting the Dukelings wethered so they can go in the barn safely. Drake and Griffin now, too. The boys are starting to pile up, and they’re all getting too big for their hypothetical britches. Apple was chasing poor Jeb all over the field last night trying to pick a fight. Apple, Stop That!

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“Charge!”

They all came thundering down to the fence when they saw me, even though they know they don’t get crunchies in the morning. Hope springs eternal.

Mira was deeply torn about whether she should run off with her friends for breakfast or stay with me. She actually does get one or two crunchies in the morning every now and then, just because she’s my baby and I spoil her. I didn’t have any this morning, though. If I have crunchies she always stays with me, if I don’t she dithers and usually compromises by grazing about halfway between me and the rest of the flock. I don’t know how she knows if I have treats on me or not, but she always does.

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“What should I do?”

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“Why can’t you just stay out here all the time, like all the other mommies?”

Poor Mira, she has such an uncooperative mommy. Of course nowadays it’s not only the crunchies she has to worry about. She also has to keep a close eye on her Bitter Rival, and give her a swift bump if it looks like I’m paying too much attention to Mira the Second Angel.

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“I think we should always get morning crunchies! Especially us little lambies who are still growing!”

Little Angel may be a bit spoiled and bad about jumping up on people, but she is such a pretty girl you can’t scold her. Just like her mother and grandmother. I imagine she’ll have a lot of fanboys when she grows up, also like her mother and grandmother.

Drake was the first to start flirting with Mira this morning. That ended the same way as always. Mira butted him, they got in a fight, Nova came flying over to protect her precious little boy, they got in a fight, and in the end Mira and Nova ended up mad at each other for no good reason while Drake went back to grazing and forgot the whole thing happened.

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“Don’t you come near my baby, Mira!”

“Your baby is a menace!”

“Hmm, this grass sure is good! I wonder what Mama and Mira are mad about?”

And then he ran off to try flirting with Duchess, who was deeply unimpressed by his attentions. The ego of a ram lamb is eternally resilient.

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“Hey, Duchess!”

“Leave me alone, I’m trying to eat breakfast!”

“Nova, your baby’s being a menace again!”

Nova pointedly does not see any objectionable behavior her little prince might be up to. Not that Duchess has too much right to complain, since her baby has equally bad manners, which she is equally blind to.

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“Will you be my girlfriend, Mira?”

“No.”

“Please?”

“No. Go away.”

Nova is definitely judging Griffin there. Nova is quite firmly of the opinion that Griffin is a pest. No lamb of hers would ever act like that, she’s sure. Her four sons are all perfect gentlemen who never cause trouble. (Johnny, Apple, Ash, Drake… nope, no colorful characters there at all!)

I’ve decided that lambs have a supernatural power which compels their mothers (surrogate or not) to spoil them and let them get away with everything no matter how naughty they are. It’s the only possible explanation.

Bagel Bandits

I slept in today, so I carried my bagel out with me to the barn instead of eating it in the house.

Eating a bagel without sharing did not meet with the approval of Miss Angel.

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“Gimme! I want that!”

I offered her a small bite torn off of my bagel, but she quickly determined that it wasn’t crunchy, made a face, and spit it out.

Eating a bagel and offering a bite to Angel did not meet with the approval of Miss Mira.

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“MINE! Not Angel’s! I want that!”

Mira also got a small bite of bagel, which she also made a face at and spit out because it wasn’t crunchy…

… and then she and Angel both came back and demanded again that I share my bagel. Which they’d already tried. And spit out. Kids…

I wasn’t willing to give up any more of my bagel if they weren’t going to eat it, so I finished it myself by the time I got to the yard gate.

Echo was very Betrayed and Disappointed that I ate the whole thing and didn’t share my bagel with him. I can’t stand his Betrayed and Disappointed face. It’s just so sad.

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“You didn’t give me any bagel! I don’t understand, I love bagels! I’ve never had one, but I know I’d love them! And you didn’t share with me! I just don’t understand why you would do that…”

So I sat on the grass and petted his ears and held his paw for a while, until he got over his slump. Echo loves having his paws held. (As long as you’re not trying to trim his toenails. Toenail trimming is mean and results in the Betrayed and Disappointed face.)

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“Well, since you held my paw I suppose I forgive you.”

Normally I think Watcher would have also been upset about the lack of bagel-sharing, but he was busy being the official Farm Alarm and yelling at a deer that dared to pass by our field, so he didn’t notice that I was eating.

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“Did you see that deer run? I sure told HIM off! Let’s play ball!”

I threw his ball twice, then that got boring and he decided to play fight with Echo. About seventy-five percent of the time play fighting with Echo involves Watcher spinning in mad circles snarling and snapping while Echo just stands there half-heartedly sniping at Watcher when he gets too close.

The other twenty-five percent of the time Echo usually wins. Echo is over fifteen pounds heavier than Watcher. Watcher is lucky he’s usually laid back and lazy.

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“Fight me!”

“Do I have to?”

And off we all went back to the house, Watcher spinning along in front of us, and Echo sort of half chasing him.

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“Ah-ha! I knew I could get you to play!”

“This game is too much work! Why can’t I just stay in the house and eat bagels?”

Poor Watcher. He works (and plays) so hard, and nobody has enough energy to keep up. If anybody around here needs the extra carbs of a bagel it’s him.

Home Invasion

I didn’t get the porch gate closed in time today, so I had Angel running around the porch yelling through the windows at me. I hid in the dining room and recorded her through the window. Pardon the shaky footage, my zoom is wobbly and I kept accidentally bumping the camera into the glass.

Mira eventually popped in just to make sure I didn’t come out and give Angel attention behind her back, then they both went around the corner where I couldn’t see them anymore. I tried calling them back, but I think they had decided to stake out my bedroom window or something, because they didn’t come until after I’d stopped recording.

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“Stop pointing that camera through the window and come give me crunchies, Mommy!”

There’s a reason the sheep are usually locked off of the porch.

Spoiled

I noticed I hadn’t taken any good pictures of the ram lambs lately, so today I tried to focus on getting close-ups of them. Drake refused to cooperate, but I did get a pretty nice one of Griffin, who is still Mr Angry Eyebrows when photographed straight on. The angry eyebrow markings are starting to be overshadowed by his horns, though. The growth rate of a ram’s horns always amazes me; it doesn’t seem like it should be physically possible for them to grow that fast.

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“I need big horns so I can impress the girls! I’m trying to get a girlfriend, but they just keep butting me away!”

I like this picture. It has Griffin and Duchess in the foreground, Lady with all three of her babies in the background, and Nova swooping in from the side to retrieve her wayward son just for added interest.

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“Can we have crunchies for breakfast?”

I like this picture, too. The Shetlands always seem so peaceful and picturesque, standing in that green grass.

As I was taking this picture I felt a tugging on my back pocket, and discovered Mira trying to steal my cell phone while I was distracted.

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“Hey, why aren’t you paying attention to me?”

So then I had to stop and make a fuss over Mira of course, and then Angel ran up and needed to be fussed over, too. Then Mira got jealous and started trying to run Angel off, and it was all very dramatic.

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“You’re MY mommy! You’re only supposed to pet ME!”

Fortunately my mother was with me this morning, and since she’s Angel’s “real” mom, Angel was happy to run back to her when Mira started getting pushy.

Once everyone migrated to the yard, I gave them some mineral mix, which is even more wonderful than crunchies. Feeding them minerals is not one of my favorite chores. They’re so crazy about it I always end up getting mugged, as documented by my mother’s cell phone camera.

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“Mine, Mine, MINE!”

Most of the salt was already in the tray, but of course the salt in the scoop is better. Liam and Nova pigged out while everyone else was hypnotized by the scoop.

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“You guys keep after ShepherdPerson, leave the tray to us!”

If Neo the sweet cinnamon roll is jumping up on me, I’m willing to consider that there may be actual drugs in that mix.

Soon enough, the salt in the tray is gone and Liam and Nova join the rest.

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“We want more!”

Angel, despite having gotten her salt hand-fed to her, decided to check out the tray just in case.

Mira gives little Griffin the stink-eye. He’s been fanboying over her a lot lately, so she’s annoyed by his general existence at this point, even without delicious mineral mix to fight over.

As always, the feeding frenzy ends with me running for the basement doors to escape the woolly piranhas, with muddy hoof-marks all over my clothes.

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“Nooo, come back with the salt!”

There were a lot more sheep than just Mira and Angel yelling at me through the basement doors today. Greedy sheep, anyone would think they were mistreated.

Fortunately it’s usually only the bottle babies that think to run around to the back porch and continue their yelling. Neither Angel nor Mira particularly wanted to share the porch steps, but that’s the harsh reality of not being the only bottle baby on the farm.

“Hey, what are you doing on my stairs?”

“These are MY stairs! I was here first!”

Sometimes I feel sorry for Mira, but then I remember that she wouldn’t have to compete with a younger rival if she’d raised Angel herself. Then I feel less sorry for her.

But only a tiny, tiny, bit less. Because Mira’s still my baby and I’m a pushover for sad Miss Miracle eyes.

Never Happy

When it’s sunny, like it was a few days ago, the sheep head out single-file to graze in the morning. They all tend to run out ahead of me in their quest for breakfast, except the bottle babies who tend to sick close just in case I decide to give them crunchies.

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“Breakfast time!”

The Shetlands were out in front that day, which is a bit unusual, but I suppose Liam might have just been especially eager to get to graze. Liam isn’t deliberately pushy, but he’s so big nobody usually gets in his way. Except Griffin and Drake, but they’re ram lambs and therefore have no sense of scale. (Or sense in general, to be honest.)

Despite their initial enthusiasm, it doesn’t take very long before the sun starts bothering them and everyone comes back to huddle in the shade and complain about the weather.

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“Grumble-grumble, it’s too hooooot. I don’t like it.”

Well, almost everyone.

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“Crunchiiieeees! They’re in this pocket here, where my hoof is!”

Angel’s been picking up Mira’s manners, unfortunately. If anything, I think she might be a tiny bit more demanding, which is a bit scary to think about.

In contrast to the sunny days, on rainy days like this morning the single-file march to breakfast is droopy and grumpy, and tends to drag along behind me instead of charging ahead.

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“Grumble-grumble. Everything’s wet. I don’t like it. Make it stop.”

Little Angel somehow ended up out in front today, which was pretty funny. Even she wasn’t sure how that happened. I couldn’t get the whole procession in one shot, but everyone (including me) was grumping along half wishing they’d stayed in bed.

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“Grumble-grumble. Grazing in the rain is not a Splendid Game.”

The single-file march only lasts to the gate. Once through, they wander off to graze. The Shetlands usually only go a short distance, while the Soays venture forth as far as possible before everyone settles down to focus on breakfast.

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“Grumble-grumble, breakfast is all wet. I’m getting wet. Why do those Soays want to go all the way out there when there’s grass right here?”

Well, almost everyone.

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“Crunchiiiees! Everything’s wet! I’m hungry, I need crunchies!”

She was very confused by my rain coat’s lack of pockets. ShepherdPeople are supposed to be naturally equipped with lots of pockets full of crunchies and cell phones and other fun things for sheep to steal.

She was also highly unhappy that I didn’t bring her into the house with me. She yelled at me through the basement door until she heard me going up the steps, then she ran around to the porch gate to yell at me some more.

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“Hey! You forgot me!”

Why do they have to be so cute? It’s so hard to ignore a crying lambie. Of course once she hits a certain volume I’m just as glad she’s doing her yelling outside.

Last time I checked everyone had taken the edge off their hunger and then retreated back to huddle under the hoop houses and complain about the weather.

8.jpg“HEEEEEY! Did you hear me? I said YOU FORGOT MEEE!”

Well, almost everyone.

 

 

Rainstorm

We had heavy rain most of the day Friday. The sheep had much to say about this, all of it negative. Angel was particularly vocal, since she hasn’t been stuck outside in a heavy rain before. She had her choice of three different shelters to get under, but still.

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“It was terrible! How am I supposed to eat grass like a big girl with water falling on me out of the sky?!”

Being an outside sheep instead of a house sheep is a very trying experience.

The sheep are still convinced that there is no grass at all anywhere and their only food source is the trees.

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“Quick, everybody to the trees!”

Unfortunately they’ve already pretty well stripped the trees as high as they can reach.

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“Now what are we going to do?”

Griffin is flirting with Lady, who is deeply unimpressed. Usually it’s Duchess who gets all the fanboys, but since Griffin is her baby he has to devote his attention to the other girls.

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“I need crunchies, I had a traumatic experience!”

Crunchies are a remedy to cure all ills. Angel has become quite a fan of crunchies since she decided she didn’t want her bottle anymore. Mira has very firm objections to that, and makes determined but usually unsuccessful attempts to chase her away. They end up playing ring-around-the-rosie around my legs.

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“Ahem, why are you giving that little squirt my crunchies? I’M your baby, so I believe all the crunchies are MINE!”

While the bottle babies squabble at each other, the rest of the flock devotes their attention to eating the (apparently substandard) grass and looking wistfully at all the leaves they can’t reach.

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“Sigh, all those yummy leaves…”

The dogs keep careful watch from the other side of the fence, waiting to escort me back to the house. Usually they also end up playing ring-around-the-rosie around my legs. Those games make it very difficult to walk.

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“When do we get our crunchies?”

Echo isn’t a fan of getting wet, either. It’s hard to get him to go out in the yard at all when it’s raining. He is a fan of crunchies, though.

The animals may not have liked it, but we needed the rain. It’s made everything green again, so I was glad to see it.

Saturday Morning

I like Saturday mornings, when I can let the sheep out and visit a little bit instead of rushing off to work. Unfortunately I keep forgetting to charge the batteries in my real camera so all I’ve gotten lately are phone pictures, which are always zoomed in too far for some reason and are usually focused oddly.

“Crunchies?”

Holly gave me a bit of a scare last night wobbling around twitching her head, but it turned out she just got something in her eye. The wobbling was from trying to navigate with one eye closed and keep her “blind” side to Lady.

Today she’s still a bit squinty but the eye is clear and she’s acting better. Unless something changes I’m going to chalk it up to Lady’s family always wildly overreacting to minor injuries.

“Crunchies?”

I want to have words with whoever introduced Angel to climbing on me trying to stick her nose in my pockets. I wonder who on earth that could have been, hmmm…

“Does she have to hang around with us?”

If Mira’s accepted Angel enough to teach her bad habits I guess that’s good enough for me. She seems resigned to having Angel around her, so that’s an improvement over the days when she wouldn’t stop attacking the poor baby trying to drive her away from “her” humans.

“Mira knows lots of Splendid Games, and she wants to come live in the house, too! Can we come back in the house, please?”

Nope. Sorry. One way ticket.

They really wouldn’t like it in the house anymore, since there isn’t any food for them. They just think they want in. What they really want is for me (and my mom, who’s more Angel’s mom than I am) to move out with them, but I’m not on board with that plan.

“Breakfast!!”

My nice, serene early-morning landscape looks decidedly less serene with Neo and Mira trying to reach the tree leaves instead of eating the grass.

The Shetlands are off in their own little Sane Sheep Club. Nina was hanging out with them this morning, even though in her mind she’s Obviously A Soay. I guess she has dual citizenship or something.

“I gots a tasty leaf, ShepherdPerson!”

Griffin still has angry eyebrows but he’s grown into them well enough they’re not as noticeable. He’s turning into a very determined flirt (Duchess is his mom, so that’s no surprise) instead of a grumpy sleepy-head. Although he does still take a lot of naps.

“I gotta practice for my rematch with the Dukelings!”

The sheep won’t eat those purple stalky weeds, so I’m assuming they’re probably poisonous or something, but the thick stalks are ideal for sharpening horns, apparently. The purple rubs off on their horns and gives them a nice bloody look so they can scare ShepherdPerson, which is always fun.

The big boys were in this field most of the spring and they’ve rubbed most of the purple off by now, but there are enough stalks left for Drake to practice on.

“Why am I stuck watching the babies? I poked my eye, I might be dying, I shouldn’t have to babysit!”

Holly got left to watch the lambs and didn’t seem too happy about it. Too bad for her, it’s the inevitable duty of the yearlings to watch the babies when their mothers need a break. Nobody likes babysitting the ram lambs when they’re big enough to be bothersome but not old enough to have any sense.

For my flock, it’s a relatively peaceful morning. It’s a pity I can’t sit out with them and read without curious sheep trying to eat my book or stick their noses in my tea. I bet that would be nice.