What’s the Opposite of the Darwin Award?

Duke managed to find a 6″ weak point of the fence right by the barn, and even more impressive, cram his big shaggy bulk through what I could have sworn was too small a gap for him to fit through. It involved climbing halfway up the fence and turning his head backwards so the tips of his horns wouldn’t get caught in the panels. I am reluctantly impressed with his ingenuity. I am less impressed that he bred at least two of the ewes, so now I have the “to-Lutalyse-or-not-to-Lutalyse” quandry to decide in the next few days. I really wasn’t planning on any lambs this year. I have never met an animal so determined to ensure the continuation of his genetic line in my life.

Fixing the weak point in the fence is a bit involved, so until it’s fixed the girls have to stay in the back field (containing the weak spot) and Duke has to stay in the front fields which does not have any weak points that I’m aware of. yet. I’m not too happy about this, because I like having the girls closer to the house, but it beats ending up with every ewe in the flock bred because Duke won’t stay where I put him.

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“Off we go!”

The flock was mostly happy to follow Lady off across the big new field, although Mira dawdled behind a bit, and Angel wouldn’t leave my side at all for a long time. She’s never been in the back field before, and it was a bit scary for her.

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“Don’t leave me out here! It’s scary! I’m hungry! Give me treats and put everything back the way it was!”

I suspect that maybe Angel is starting to pretend she’s scared so I’ll dote on her, the same way her mother always pretends to be sick. Or at least play up how scared she is. She’s always clinging to my leg and crying while I’m outside, but if I’m not there she runs around, picks constant fights with Griffin, and seems to get along fine.

While Angel was busy being melodramatic, her grandsire, Duke, was being even more melodramatic running up and down the fenceline calling for the girls.

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“Why won’t she let me make any more lambs?”

Wonders Duke, while five of his twelve lambs and grandlambs wander by in the background. Every Soay or half-Soay on the farm is descended from Duke except for Lady, Duchess, Prince Bran, and Griffin. Enough is enough, Duke.

The Dukelings were too busy to bother about the girls; they had too much exploring and climbing to do. The girls’ field has a fallen tree mountain for them to play on. It is a Splendid Game to climb up on the tallest part of the stump. It’s an even more Splendid Game to knock each other off.

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“I bet I can climb the highest!”

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“Watch me get up on the stump!”

Cedar and Bran abandoned the game in favor of eating dead leaves, but the others played for quite a while. One or another of the Dukelings did manage to get up on top of the stump a few times, but someone else always knocked him off of his lofty perch before I could get a picture.

I have to admit, Duke does make awfully cute babies, even if they are troublemakers. He already has a dozen, maybe another one or two won’t hurt…

… somebody remind me I said that next year if I end up with six lambs running around causing havoc.

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Competition

Today the sheep got mineral mix, which means much pushing and shoving and climbing on each other to reach. Way too much activity for first thing in the morning when the sun isn’t even properly up yet.

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“Out of my way!”

Poor Duke is so upset by his lack of access to the girls he wouldn’t even take a break to eat mineral mix. Minerals are the best thing ever; it has to be a pretty serious obsession for him to completely ignore minerals.

In his absence, it wasn’t long before the four Dukelings completely monopolized the feeder, while the four much larger Shetlands and crossbreds fretted anxiously behind them. Those little Dukelings are formidable.

Conspicuously absent from the skirmish on the girls’ side are Angel and Mira. Bottle babies do not compete with the masses for their treats, they get fed separately, like the royalty they are.

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“Everything left in the scoop is mine!”

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“I get fed by hand while Mira’s busy with the scoop, because I’m little and all those other sheep are scary!”

Once all the salt is gone, everyone starts thinking about breakfast. Or flirting. This time of year, mainly flirting. Drake and Griffin are convinced that they are big, macho rams, and Will Scarlet is not happy at all about it. Will Scarlet, like his namesake, is very much a ladies’ man, and he’s used to having all the girls’ attention to himself.

Not that Will is actually all that macho himself, really. He’s a determined flirt, but he’s not very big or impressive looking, and unless he’s running off romantic rivals he’s not particularly aggressive either, towards me or the other sheep. He’s my unofficial yardstick for behavior in the wethers. As long as you’re less aggressive/annoying than Will, you can stay with the girls. Worse than Will, and you get exiled to the ram pen.

I used to think all wethers should be like Neo to stay with the girls, but if I insisted everyone behave that well I’d end up having to toss some of the girls out, too, which would defeat the purpose.

Sadly for Will, there are two baby rams and only one of him, so he’s running himself ragged trying to keep them away from the girls.

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“No flirting with Holly, Drake!”

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“Hey! Griffin! I see you flirting, you stop that!”

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“No flirting!”

“Spoilsport!”

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“He’s just jealous of my rugged ramliness!”

Griffin is a handsome little guy, I have to give him that. I would have seriously considered keeping him intact if his mother and sister hadn’t had such problem-filled reproductive histories. Even if I had considered it, I probably would have changed my mind when he turned into such a pushy little punk. He’s coming very close to failing the “Less annoying than Will” test and having to move over with the boys.

The dogs were very happy when I came back from the barn, and started squabbling over who got to show me the very special stick they’d found while I was gone.

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“It’s my stick!”

“Noooo, my stick!”

Echo isn’t usually much for playing, but he does like a good game of tug-of-war, mainly I think because he always wins.

Watcher was heartbroken over the loss of his very special stick. He loves to show me all the things he finds so I can admire him and his exceptional prowess at treasure-finding. Pretty much anything can count as treasure as far as Watcher’s concerned. Once when he was truly desperate he brought me an unusually long blade of grass, though he did look a little embarrassed about that one.

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“It was the most special stick ever and Echo took it and now I don’t have anything to show you!”

Poor, poor Watcher. Echo wasn’t much better off. He’d gotten the stick, but wasn’t sure what to do with it once he had it. He mostly only cares about being petted, and he’s not sure what a stick has to do with being petted. He just knows that Watcher gets petted more when he has something in his mouth. Therefore, if Watcher has something in his mouth Echo must take it, and hope somehow this translates into being petted more.

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“Do I get petted now, because I have the stick? Do I trade the stick for pets? Or do I need to fall down dramatically first?”

Falling down dramatically is his favorite tactic. He gets the most petting for the least work that way. Second favorite is leaning against my legs when I’m trying to walk until I give up and sit on the ground so he can flop across my lap.

I petted Echo’s ears for him, and Watcher snatched the stick back while Echo was distracted, so he got to show it to me and I got to admire and pet him, too.

Then I escaped back into the house for tea and breakfast, with a plea that everyone outside control their competitive natures and postpone any further shenanigans at least until it’s light enough for decent pictures.

New Toys

Yesterday I had a new toy to play with; thecrazysheeplady kindly loaned me one of her fancy cameras to use until I get mine repaired or replaced. It has many intimidating looking buttons and settings, and I am very proud it only took me a little over fifteen minutes to figure out how the shutter button works.

The sheep were actually (mostly) behaving themselves for once, so it was a good day to go outside and play around figuring out how to focus and zoom and things like that without having to thwart shenanigans at the same time. It’s going to take some practice to get used to juggling so many settings manually. It takes much better pictures than the camera I was using before, even with my inept handling, so I’ll keep practicing.

The moment the sheep saw me coming they abandoned their napping and ran to the gate, thinking I was going to let them into the yard. They were not happy when I came in instead of letting them out.

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“What do you mean, you’re not letting us out??”

This camera is good bit bigger and louder than my old one, so it was regarded with deep suspicion.

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“What is this StrangeClickyThing?”

Mira, of course, was not at all intimidated. She thought the camera would be lovely to chew up. I told her no. She drooped over my lap dramatically, and when I told her no again she threw a tantrum at me and stomped off to sulk.

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“You are such a mean mommy and you never let me do anything I want to do or have any fun at all. Boo, Mommy!”

Since the camera didn’t attack Mira, Lady and Griffin had to come and investigate, too. They were also open to the possibility that it might be tasty. Holly came with Lady, but was still highly suspicious and wouldn’t come out from behind her mama.

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“Is the NewClickyThing tasty? Or scary?”

Lady has some sort of branch stuck in her wool, but she ran off in a panic when I tried to pull it out. At least it doesn’t look like one of those thorn branches that work their way deeper instead of eventually falling out.

Once all the fuss was over, the two mama sheep sat with me by the fence, where we could all relax, doze and have a chat while keeping an eye on our babies playing around the round bale.

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“Be careful, babies!”

That would have been a much better picture if Nova had been in focus. Oh well.

Drake and Griffin were enthusiastically trying to play king of the hill on the round bale. Round bales are an excellent invention, according to Drake and Griffin. In addition to being an excellent playground, you can also eat them! A Splendid Game on all accounts. They’re too short to actually make it to the top, but they have a lot of fun trying.

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“I bet I can reach higher up than you!”

Notice the deep hole eaten out of the bale at the very highest point they can reach. They’re all causing quite an erosion problem with all that climbing.

Angel is less enthusiastic. She eats hay, but she doesn’t like it very much yet. The bottle babies I’ve had here always seem to be a little bit slower at learning to eat hay than the others.

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“Why can’t we just live on crunchies until spring, instead of this DryPricklyStuff?”

That is a good question, Angel.

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“Because all the crunchies are mine, that’s why!”

Mira was determined to pout behind the hay bale and give me the cold shoulder until I apologized for being so mean and let her have her way, but she had to peek out every now and then to see if I was sorry yet and to make sure I wasn’t giving Angel any crunchies.

Eventually everyone but the two bottle babies wandered off to graze, though they did perk up hopefully when I started back to the house.

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“Now can we come in the yard?”

I barely got out the gate ahead of the charge.

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“You are a terrible ShepherdPerson and we are all going to starve.”

I’m still getting a lot of pictures that are overexposed, or aren’t in focus, or some other problem, but I think I’m getting better at it. Editing the pictures to reduce the image size enough that wordpress doesn’t fuss at me, but not so much that the pictures look grainy is going to be another trial and error process.

Now I just have to work on getting myself back into Mira’s good books.

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“It’s going to take a lot of crunchies. And I still want to chew on that camera. And I want to play in the yard. And no more giving Angel attention or crunchies. And I don’t like staying in the barn at bedtime, either.”

On the other hand, maybe it would be easier to just get used to her being grumpy with me. She always gets over it eventually, just in time to be freshly outraged the next time something doesn’t go her way. She is very spoiled, but she is too cute and sweet not to spoil. And her “Do you notice how much I’m ignoring you?” cold shoulder routine when she’s angry is very entertaining.

I let her look over my arm at the viewfinder screen to “help” me take some pictures this morning. They turned out too dark, because it is a very gloomy morning, but it seemed to mollify her hurt feelings a little anyway. Bottle babies are always very eager to “help”, especially when there are new toys involved.

Really, I’m Not Laughing

Yesterday I thought that I would write a post confirming that Griffin is a menace and a sheep of mass destruction and definitely responsible for bashing my poor barn. This was going to be the photographic evidence:

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We replaced those tarps less than a month ago. He decided window installation was a Splendid Game and did all of this in one day.

While he is still definitely on the hook for the hoop house since I caught him in the act, and he is indeed a menace and a sheep of mass destruction, I must admit that I don’t think he bashed the barn wall anymore. Mostly because he wasn’t in the stall where this happened last night:

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I made a very long, impassioned speech about how greatly I would appreciate it if they would kindly cease knocking the barn down, but Nova and Drake had squeezed out through the hole and were being chased all over the field by Duke and the Dukelings, so no one had attention to spare to appreciate my eloquence. Including me. I think most of it was just me repeating “Guys. What. What is this? Why? What are you trying to do to me. What. Guys. Why?” in a dazed tone while running around trying to get everyone sorted back out.

Fortunately Nova wasn’t in heat, so I think I’m safe on that front, but in the process of getting Nova and Drake back, I ended up with Duke in the barn aisle, where he unfortunately discovered that Lady was in heat.

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“We’re in love now!”

I ended up having to wave my arms around and scream before Duke would leave, and even then he just gave me a sideways look and sidled out like he was pretty sure I’d lost my mind and he was only letting me have my way out of pity. I’m not saying he’s wrong, but it’s really bad for the ego to be humored by a sheep.

So, since Griffin couldn’t have been my window (door?) installer this time, and since I don’t think Drake is physically capable of knocking a board completely off the barn, I’ve come to the shocking conclusion that it must have been Liam after all.

Liam is generally an even-tempered guy, but does get violently jealous if anyone else flirts with Lana. So my new hypothesis is that Duke was making flirty noises from outside the barn and Liam tried to fight him through the wall and the wall lost.

Barney and Jeb shot through the gate and ended up with the girls when I was rescuing Nova and Drake, and I thought that would be fine, but Barney and Liam almost instantly came to blows over Lana. Liam won, and Barney ended up fleeing for his life.

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“We wouldn’t have any problems if people would just leave me and my girlfriend alone!”

In the course of Barney’s panicked fleeing strategic retreat, he noticed Lady and decided to try flirting with her instead. Given that Barney is really too big to flirt with Lady safely (and Duke’s head was about to explode over having his girl stolen by Barney of all people) I ended up with Barney and Jeb in the field and all the other girls in the yard to put a buffer between them and Duke.

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“Why is everybody so mean to me all the time?”

Poor Barney. For some reason nobody ever believes me when I say that he’s one of the sweetest sheep I have. Very (understandably) grumpy, and an absolute nightmare to shear, but very sweet and funny and easy to work with. Unless you have shears in your hand.

Angel does not understand what on earth is going on with everyone lately. She’s old enough that she should be at least a little hormonal herself, but she isn’t. I think she’s going to be a late bloomer like her mother and not hit puberty until next year. That happens sometimes with Soays. I’m not complaining, she can wait as long as she likes.

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“Everybody out here is crazy except me!”

I mostly agree with her, except she still has that weird obsession with attacking my feet, so I do take minor issue with the “except her” bit.IMAG4887

“Take that, foot! And that!”

I think maybe there’s locoweed on the property and I just haven’t found it yet.

Not Funny… Ok Maybe A Little…

I don’t know what kind of wild party the sheep threw in the barn last night, but it was apparently the sort of party where holes get knocked into the walls.

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That board is only being held up by the baseboard. I hope that party was fun.

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“You can’t blame us for this!”

This is true, the board had to be knocked off from the inside, so Duke and his row of Dukelings are off the hook for this one.

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“Hiiii, ShepherdPerson!”

Hi, Apple.

The Dukelings may not have been the ones who knocked the board loose, but they were having great fun taking full advantage of the new “window” to peek through. Sheep love windows, even when the barn is empty and there’s really nothing much to see.

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“My turn!”

It was a mathematical inevitability that four Dukelings trying to peek through a “window” that only had room for one on each side of the board at a time led to a truly impressive battle over window-peeking rights.

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“I SAID it’s MY turn to look!”

The four of them tend to gang up whenever they’re fighting with one of the bigger boys, but when they’re fighting each other it always devolves pretty quickly into “don’t you hit my brother!” with each set of twins squabbling angrily at the other set and forgetting whatever it was they were originally fighting about.

The video is a bit blurry (yay old camera!), but I like it anyway. The boys still have problems with their aim and end up both falling down more often than not. Cedar didn’t like Apple and Ash picking on Chestnut, and was lining up for a pretty impressive charge against Apple before Duke got irritated and charged in from left field to break it up. And poor little Chestnut is still the runt, but did his best anyway at backing Cedar up.

I’m not sure who to blame for installing the window in the first place. The only suspects sheep who slept in that stall last night were the Shetlands, Will, Nova, and the two ram lambs from this year.

The Shetlands obviously would never do such a thing, unless they’re much better actors than I think they are.

Will has been known to collide spectacularly with walls, both intentionally and not, but Mira’s decided they’re in the ‘off-again’ stage of their on-again, off-again relationship and I’m fairly confident Will’s still moping too much to try to break through a wall that didn’t have her on the other side.

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“I’m a strong, independent ewe that don’t need no boyfriend!”

Will thinks it’s very cruel of her to put such an obviously insurmountable barrier between them. The poor boy has never had a very firm grasp on the concept of going around to the gate.

Nova would quite probably break down a wall if she thought it was in her way, but she isn’t in heat and didn’t have any real rivals on either side of that particular wall, so my money is on Drake and Griffin as the culprits. They’ve been trying to pick fights with everyone in sight for weeks trying to prove their baby masculinity, and both Will and Liam were giving them very annoyed glares when I let them out this morning.

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“The wall had it coming!”

I think it’s equally plausible that they have aim as bad as the Dukelings and hit the wall by accident, or that they hit the wall on purpose trying to pick a fight with the big(ger) boys on the other side. Griffin and Drake are both BB’s sons, and Drake is also Duke’s grandson through Nova. Any violence against fences and walls would not surprise me.

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“Don’t you say mean things about my baby!”

Not that I would dare level any accusations against the two of them while their overprotective mothers hover nearby. Nor would I dare to suggest that two ram lambs nearly as tall as their mothers might not need such dedicated levels of overprotective hovering. I like having my kneecaps relatively intact.

I also like having my barn walls relatively intact, but I suppose I can’t have everything.

Even Funnier

The sheep had a traumatic experience yesterday. The person who came to let them out in the morning was an Evil Imposter who looked exactly like their normal ShepherdPerson except she was wearing a poncho of all things! All that loose, flapping fabric! I think the whole flock may need therapy now.

The poncho-wearing impostor was terrifying, and they were in no way overreacting when they all went sprinting out of the barn as fast as their hooves could carry them, jumping three to four feet in the air as they went by. Except Angel, who stood about 10 feet away staring at me my evil doppleganger in horror and screaming at the top of her lungs. And Mira, who knew it was me and wasn’t fazed by the poncho, but freaked out anyway because she couldn’t figure out what everyone else was freaking out about.

I wasn’t expecting such a dramatic mass exodus, and I was a bit distracted at the time by the crack of a large number of sheep breaking the sound barrier on their way out (or possibly it was the crack of Will Scarlet misjudging his evasive maneuvers in the rush and crashing into a wall mid-leap, it was definitely one or the other) so they were all gone by the time I got my camera out.

I’d only grabbed the poncho in the first place because it was conveniently near the door when I realized it was cold outside. I remembered to wear my brown barn coat this morning, which made the sheep much happier. The barn coat is always tremendously popular, because it has many wonderful pockets that often contain treats, and it doesn’t change my shape much or flap ominously when I move, so they don’t question my identity when I’m wearing it. Once they’d sniffed at it a bit, they were able to set off towards breakfast at their usual subsonic pace.

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“Whew, I’m glad we have the real ShepherdPerson back, and not that scary poncho-wearing impostor!”

Angel was born after warm weather had arrived this year, so she’d never seen the coat before. She was too excited about the many pockets to follow everyone else off to graze. The coat has four outer pockets, which combined with my jeans means eight pockets to be inspected!

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“There was a ScaryFlappyPerson here yesterday! I need crunchies to recover!”

I haven’t dressed up for Halloween in years, but at least I know as long as I have a large poncho I have a suitably scary costume ready if I end up needing one for some reason.

Very Funny

The other day the sheep somehow managed to get through not one, but two gates, (one of which I may have left open accidentally and one that was definitely closed and latched) and had a grand old time chewing their way through the treeline along the farm road.

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“Woo-hoo! Freedom!”

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“This stuff tastes way better than the stuff in our field! So many leaves!

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“Why aren’t we always allowed to graze out here in the road?”

I was inexcusably out of crunchies for bribing sheep that day, but fortunately for me salt mix also makes an excellent bribe. On the other hand, using salt as a bribe usually leads to me being mobbed and coming away with a large number of little hoofprints on my jeans, which is why I generally prefer to use crunchies.

When I got back to the house I had an email from Amazon recommending an 11 pound bulk pack of Chex based on my recent shopping history, which was strange because I have never bought crunchies online. I’m starting to think this is why the sheep are always trying to steal my smartphone out of my pocket, they’re using it to do some online shopping.

Unfortunately for them, being nearly trampled by the escapees made me more inclined to bulk order gate latches, not treats.

The next morning when I let the sheep out of the barn, Lady, instead of leading the flock out to graze the way she’s supposed to, led all of them straight to the road gate and stood there waiting expectantly for me to let them out.

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“You may open the gate now, we’re ready to go!”

I had a good laugh at their very funny joke, and shooed them off to their own field. Some took more shooing than others.

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“All those leeeaves!”

Drake was deeply disappointed about missing out on more leaves.

If they absolutely had to get through a gate, I’m glad it was the gate to the road and not the gate to the boys. Mira cycled this week, and we won’t have time next spring to raise any more unwanted lambs.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“I’m not waiting around here if you’re not giving us treats or letting us out in the road! I’m going to go off with my boyfriend Will!”

Will is hopelessly smitten and hasn’t left her side in days. I approve of him as a boyfriend, they’ve been friends since they were tiny babies playing King of the Hill in the old clubhouse.

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Aww, look at what cute babies they were!

Of course, the major reason I like Will for her boyfriend is that he’s wethered, so he can’t do any worse than annoy her slightly with his devoted hovering and glare jealously at any rivals who try to come near her.

I got another email this morning, this time suggesting the special 12-pack of the 18-oz “family size” boxes of Chex. I’m really going to have to stop letting them play with my phone.

Happy Birthday, Watcher!

Yesterday was Watcher’s fourth birthday, and I didn’t even mention him! Shame on me! I dug an older camera out of a drawer so I could take halfway decent pictures of him today to make up for it.

This camera is better than my cell phone, but “halfway decent” is about all I can say for it, but fortunately I think my regular camera can be fixed. It’s a dark and dreary day today, so the pictures probably would have come out dark and dreary no matter what camera I used.

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“That frisbee is going to make a break for it any second, I know it!”

We actually managed a fairly long uninterrupted game of fetch this morning, since it’s been raining off and on and Echo was sticking to the porch for fear of getting wet. Usually I can only throw the frisbee two or three times before Echo gets jealous.

I admired Watcher’s frisbee-catching prowess for a while, but then the sheep in the barn started getting loudly cranky about the delay in being let out for breakfast.

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“Oh no, my sheep are crying! What’s wrong with my sheep?”

Playing frisbee is his favorite game, but it takes a back seat to his “real” job of being the Farm Alarm, so we had to pause the game while I went to check on Watcher’s sheep for him.

They were all fine, just hungry and impatient, and annoyed to discover that everything is wet today. I am thrilled to finally get some rain, but the sheep not so much.

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“Breakfast is wet!”

At least Liam is back to being his usual friendly self.

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“I don’t like being wet!”

And Neo, of course, is always friendly.

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“You need to give us extra crunchies, to make up for the rain!”

Duchess, flawlessly demonstrating where Mira and Angel inherited their irresistible begging faces.

Not that Mira was using hers, today. She must have hit her saturation point on coddling yesterday, because today instead of leaning against my leg demanding attention, she gave me a very irritated head toss when I tried to pet her and ran off. She insisted she had far more important things to do than deal with me and my attachment issues.

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“Not now, Mom, I’m busy! Why do you have to be so clingy, I’m not a baby anymore!

Sigh. Kids. There’s gratitude for you. Parenthood is so rewarding.

In her defense, the rain had knocked a lot of leaves off of the trees, and she was eager to get her share. Leaves are a delicacy, and there probably won’t be many more windfalls of edible leaves before winter.

Once all of his sheep were taken care of and relatively happy, Watcher was ready to play frisbee again on the way back to the house.

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“That frisbee’s going to make a break for it any second, I know it!”

Happy birthday, Watcher! It’s nice to know you’re always vigilant, keeping an eye on everybody outside.

Malingering

Liam did in fact manage to get the twine off his foot by himself with no harm done, so that was a relief. He and Lana have almost forgiven me for following them all over the field that day.

Mira’s face is healing up pretty well, though I’m still not sure what the injury was in the first place. She’s reached new heights of spoiled-ness from me doting on her while she didn’t feel good, and I have a feeling she’s not going to accept going back to a normal level of spoiled.

She caught me trying to pet Angel through the fence while I was walking the dogs, and she had to come flying all the way across the field to put a stop to that outrage.

“Mommy Mommy Mommy!”

“Don’t pet her! Wait for me! I’m coming!”

“I have a boo-boo! You’re only supposed to pet ME!”

Obviously she is still a fragile little flower who desperately needs coddling. It’s sometimes hard to tell when I need to actually worry about her, because she actually does get sick when she’s very upset, but she’s also clever enough to act like she’s sick every time she wants extra attention. In this case I’m pretty sure she’s fine now and just milking it, but I had to pet her and coo over her for several minutes before she stopped being upset anyway.

Then Echo got upset because I’d already played with the sheep that morning and it was HIS turn now. He collapsed dramatically across my lap where I was sitting by the fence, weakly batting at me with his paw until I petted and cooed over him, too.

Somebody needs to tell these animals that there are other ways of getting my attention besides melodramatic languishing.

Slow Speed Chase

Liam got a piece of baling twine stuck to his foot this morning. It was just stuck between his toes, not wrapped around his foot, but I thought it’d still be better if I got it off of him. Unfortunately he thought maybe I was going to do something unpleasant to him and wouldn’t let me catch him.

When a Soay is avoiding being caught, it involves manic bursts of speed, sudden changes in direction, and occasional wild-eyed attempts to turn and fight off their pursuers. Chasing Liam, on the other hand, involves him shooting me mildly reproachful looks over his shoulder as he shuffles away at exactly the speed necessary to stay out of reach and not a bit faster.

Both ways are equally effective. Liam may be sedate, especially compared to the Soays, but even a sedate sheep is faster than a ShepherdPerson. Faster than this ShepherdPerson, anyway.

Of course, if possible he’d rather hide behind his flockmates and avoid even that much exertion. I wish I could have gotten pictures with my real camera, but it’s stopped working almost completely. So instead I’m stuck with grainy cell phone photos that I can’t crop or edit unless I feel like adding instagram filters.

“Nothing to see here, nope, these are not the sheep you’re looking for…”

Hiding behind flockmates doesn’t work so well when you’re both glowingly white and bigger than they are, so he gave up on hiding and off he shuffled. I was hoping to walk up to him instead of running him down, so he stayed ahead of me without even having to break into a trot.

imag4812a“Is she still after us?”

Lana stuck with her beloved Liam, even in face of relentless pursuit. Or maybe she thought I was after her, too. She’s a good sheep, but she’s still not sure if she trusts me.

imag4817a

“Let’s lose her in the tunnel!”

imag4818a

“Oh no, she found us again!”

Liam is not a genius about evasive strategies, probably because he doesn’t get chased very often, by me or by other sheep, so he doesn’t get much practice.

The rest of the flock suddenly noticed I’d wandered off with Lana and Liam, and decided to chase us down in case I was sneaking them extra crunchies or something.

“Wait for us!”

These are the moments when I think of old westerns, when the cowhand extra is about to get trampled by the herd of running cows.

“Stampede!”

Fortunately I don’t usually get knocked down and trampled, just climbed on and thoroughly pawed at and searched. Once they’d nosed through all my pockets and figured out I didn’t have any crunchies, I was boring again and they all wandered off to graze.

“Crunchies?”

Nina stuck around to “play chase” with us, but evidently didn’t quite understand the game, because she kept turning around and coming back to ask if I was sure I didn’t have any crunchies.

Eventually I got tired and Liam and Lana were starting to get upset, so I gave up and came in the house for breakfast. I’ll try again in a bit, but more than likely he’ll have managed to get the twine off his foot himself by the time I go back out.