If I Fits, I Sits

Mira’s having a clingy day today. She thinks if she sits next to me and keeps inching her way farther onto my legs slowly enough I won’t notice. It’s hard to miss a full-grown ewe (even a small Soay ewe who’s “only” 50 lbs) with very bony legs wiggling up onto my lap, but I humor her and pretend she’s managed to fool me.

1

“Mommy, it’s hot and the sun is bright and there’s flies, can I sit with you?”

Of course, baby!

2

“This is better, your shadow makes a nice shady place.”

3

“Are there any crunchies?”

No, I don’t have any crunchies.

4

“Not even one?”

Not even one. Sorry, baby.

5

“That’s ok, your lap makes a nice pillow, anyway. Keep petting my ears, please.”

6

“I’m glad I’m still the perfect size to sit in Mom’s lap!”

 

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More Napping

Somebody (Liam?) knocked another hole in the barn wall the other day, and Mira forgot she was supposed to be ignoring me while she was caught up in the giddy excitement surrounding such a marvelous event. On the one hand, I was happy to hear her calling to me eagerly in the morning again, but on the other I was less happy that she popped her head out of the barn to greet me through a window where no window is supposed to be.

The barn is repaired now, and Mira seems to have gotten over her snit for good. Until the next time I do that she doesn’t like, anyway. She’s reclaimed her right to my exclusive attention and insists that she be the one to nap next to me and my ill-advised footwear instead of Angel.

1

“Should I chew those shoes?”

Fortunately for me, she decided she was happy with the stick she had tucked up against the tree near her chin and left my feet alone.

2

“Naa, too hot. Too sleepy. I have a stick, that’s good enough.”

Those flip-flops are very old friends of Mira’s. She’s been chewing on them since she was a baby. Every time I’d sit down she’d yank them off my feet and play with them.

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*Chomp-chomp*

One would think I’d know better by now than to wear them around the sheep, but no matter how many times they get stolen or how often I get my feet stomped on, apparently it must always happen at least once more before I learn my lesson.

In my defense, muck boots are miserably uncomfortable to wear for very long when it’s hot.

3

“You can pet my ears, but don’t touch my stick!”

I thought she’d rather have it next to her where she could see it better, but apparently not. I should know better than to touch her sticks, I always end up getting myself in trouble.

Angel may have been chased away from napping by my legs, but she settled down nearby between me and the gate. She always tries to stay between me and the nearest exit. She still hasn’t managed to train me out of going through gates without taking her with me, much to her frustration.

4

“Don’t you try to sneak away behind my back!”

Duchess was also napping nearby, so I had all three generations sitting with me. But unlike her daughter and granddaughter, Duchess is a very sneaky sheep and hid behind the tall grass.

5

“Pay no attention to the sheep behind the grass curtain…”

I think it’s nice how those three stay together more often than not, even though Duchess didn’t raise Mira and Mira didn’t raise Angel. Mira and Angel still don’t like each other much, but they’ve bonded somewhat over liking poor, bothersome Flynn even less, so I guess that’s progress of a sort. I think they’re closer to frenemies now instead of arch enemies.

Also, Angel is a lot easier to live with in general since that one time Mira snapped and beat her up. It sounds terrible, but it’s true. She’s still very bossy and sometimes picks fights for no reason, but she’s better about picking her battles and not trying to fight to the death over every little thing.

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“Angel isn’t too¬†bad I guess, as long as you only pet me, and only sit next to me, and give me all the crunchies, and take pictures of just me and not her, and I don’t have to share a room with her at night…”

They get along much better when I’m not there for them to fight over.

Portraits on a Cloudy Day

I like foggy, cloudy mornings, when it’s not too cold or too hot yet. The more diffused light also makes good picture-taking weather. I always have trouble working around inconvenient shadows on sunny days.

Mira got a haircut Saturday, and she looks beautiful. I’m still in trouble with her for taking such liberties. She’s moved past the angry sulky tantrum stage, fortunately, and into the frigidly dignified cold shoulder stage. Today is the first day she’s deigned to look at me directly without head-down, ears-pinned-back, narrow-eyed glaring, so I think she’s starting to forgive me.

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“If you have crunchies I might come over there, but otherwise I’m going to stand way over here and ignore you.”

Her haircut is worth the temperamental fallout. She really is a beautiful ewe when she isn’t hidden by a raggedly fleece.

Her “standoffish” pose looks so much like a portrait pose, I decided to see if I could get everyone in the flock to pose for pictures while the light was so nice.

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“Take my picture, too!”

Angel was easy, once I could get her to back up enough for the camera to focus. The background is a little cluttered, what with the fence, and the water buckets, and Mira pointedly and dramatically ignoring me again, but oh well. Angel still has rather adolescent proportions, but she’s going to be a beautiful ewe as well when she grows up.

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Holly apparently favors the high school senior photo poses, leaning against a tree. Holly is very pretty too once she’s shed. I hope she manages it on her own this year; catching the polled ewes is not fun or easy.

4

Lady’s definitely going to need help with her fleece this year, but she’s still a very pretty girl. She’s a lot calmer lately, since Angel has (temporarily, I’m sure) put a hold on her plans to take over as flock queen. I’m glad she’s getting a break; my life is a lot easier when the boss ewe isn’t stressed out all the time.

5

Gorgeous Duchess, still fairest of them all even before she sheds her fleece. Unlike Lady, she has not being having a stress-free time lately. Flynn has recently reached the stage all ram lambs go through, where he’s hopelessly in love with her. Emphasis on “hopelessly.” Duchess is not impressed with him.

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He’s still optimistic about his chances though, because ram lambs are just like that. Actually, he’s not just flirting with Duchess, he’s flirting with just about everybody, except when he’s trying to persuade the other ewes to feed him.

He also gets knocked down a lot, usually by whoever he’s currently pestering. He doesn’t appear to have connected the cause and effect relationship there. Ram lambs are not always good at noticing cause and effect.

7

“Don’t you come at me with those shears again!”

Nina also got a haircut this week, so she’s joined Mira in avoiding me. Lana got her haircut a while ago now, and Liam is (correctly) suspicious that he’s next in line, so they’re steering clear of me as well. Unfortunately they express their displeasure by avoiding eye contact and hoping I go away instead of dramatic poses and glaring like Mira, so I couldn’t get good close ups of them. I like this one anyway, with Nina running ahead and Lana and Liam following together.

I don’t know what they have to complain about, it’s not like I shear them for the fun of it, and they must feel better once it’s done. Poor Liam is almost spherical, that can’t be comfortable to carry around everywhere.

8

“I can’t pose, I’m in the middle of breakfast!”

I couldn’t get Neo to look up at me, but that’s ok. He’s a good boy, he deserves to eat his breakfast without being harassed into posing.

9

“Where’s that lamb gone off to now??”

Small but mighty Nova. I think she’s actually starting to enjoy having an occasional break from Flynn when he runs off to pester someone else. She only goes off to collect him when someone gets annoyed enough to start knocking him down.

I was very pleased I got nice (or at least semi-decent) pictures of everyone in the ewe flock on the same day! That doesn’t usually happen. Of course my jeans were covered in muddy Angel-hoofprints by the time I went inside, but it was worth it.

 

Naptime

I decided to sit outside under one of the trees yesterday when I moved the girls back to the field. I hadn’t been planning to stay when I left the house, so I didn’t have a chair with me, so I just sat on the ground with my back to the tree trunk.

The Shetlands (plus Neo, the part time honorary Shetland) were very suspicious, but eventually decided I wasn’t planning anything nefarious.

“You’re not planning on giving anyone a haircut, are you?”

And Flynn was very excited because he thought maybe I wanted to play with him.

“Are you going to play with me?”

Tempting, but he mostly wants to play fight, and that game wouldn’t be fun anymore when he’s grown up.

Angel settled down by my legs and glared at my shoes, debating whether she needed to attack them or not.

“I must kill the shoes… but it’s so hot and I’m sleepy… but there’s shoes, I need to kill them…”

She eventually decided she could kill the shoes later, after she’d had a nap.

“It’s too hot to kill shoes, I’ll do it later.”

I was very grateful, since I was (not very sensibly) wearing flip-flops, and it’s painful when she kills my flip-flops while I’m still wearing them.

Flynn got tired and laid down by my tree to keep an eye on me, but dozed off on watch. Being a lamb is a lot of work.

“Zzz… I’m watching you… zzz…”

Angel couldn’t get comfortable and had to get up and lay back down facing the other way. More convenient that way, for keeping an eye on me and my shoes at the same time.

“No crunchies, check.”

“Shoes not making any suspicious moves, check.”

Flynn kept waking up and trying to keep an eye on me, but he was so tired he kept going to sleep sitting up.

“I’m totally awake… zzz…”

Mira, behind Flynn next to the fencepost, was not being her usual jealous self because she is mad at me. I keep trying to pull her old wool off, which is a terrible thing for me to do, so I’m being shunned until I learn better manners. She’ll only come if I have crunchies, and even then she glares while she’s eating them, just so I know she can’t be bribed that easily.

Angel decided I was looking the other way too much, so she got up and moved closer to my leg. That way she could easily thump me with her head if I tried to move or leave or pull her wool or otherwise disturb her nap.

“I’m happy and comfortable, so don’t you try to mess with my wool or leave or anything!”

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“I’m keeping an eye on you!”

“Yep, totally… watching… you…”

“zzzz…”

“zzz…”

I ended up staying outside for almost two hours before everybody started waking up and heading off to graze. Flynn and Angel started squabbling with each other again and I sneaked back to the house while they were distracted.

Sitting surrounded by napping sheep always makes me very sleepy. Even looking at the pictures makes me want a nap. They really are a sweet bunch of sheep, when they’re not causing mayhem. It was nice being outside with them for a while with no major conflicts or crises or destructive Splendid Games breaking out.

Resilience of Youth

Flynn decided yesterday that the occasion of his horn buds becoming just barely visible through the skin meant he was a 100% grown up ram now, and squeezed through the gate to play with his fellow grown up tough guys. When every one of the boys came running over to check out the new kid, Flynn very quickly decided he had made a big mistake and took off running, screaming at the top of his baby lungs.

Fortunately for him, the older boys were more curious than aggressive, but it was still a traumatizing experience to be chased all over the field by the whole pack of them. It took me several minutes to get him back over to the gate and the other boys away from the gate long enough for him to wiggle back through to his mama.

Drake and Ash made determined efforts to follow him, but only succeeded in getting their heads through. Fortunately they were able to get themselves back out with little trouble.

Having seen the error of his ways, little Flynn seemed determined he was going to be a good boy from now on and never leave his mother’s side ever again. This morning he was still staying right by her, which Nova was very pleased about. She’s getting tired of having to chase him down all the time.

1

“See how well behaved my little boy is!”

By the time we reached the house, Flynn had decided that the definition of a good boy was flexible enough to include playing in the rocks.

2

“I can still see my mama, so it’s ok to play over here!”

And sticking his face in the downspout to see if there’s anything interesting in there.

3

“Hellooo in there!”

“What are you doing? Hurry up, we’re falling behind on breakfast!”

And by the time I made it on the porch to the back door, all pretense of being a good boy had gone out the window and he’d decided to pick a fight with Angel by running up and butting her in the head.

4

“I’m the toughest!”

“No, I’M the toughest!!”

A decision he very quickly came to regret.

5

“Ok, ok, you’re the toughest!”

“You bet I am!”

And off he went, running back to Nova with Angel in hot pursuit, freshly determined to always be a good boy and stay close to his mother forever and ever from now on.

6

“Maamaa! Heeelp!”

“Come back here and fight me like a ewe, you little brat!”

Nova promptly put a stop to that fight and chased Angel away. Nobody picks on Nova’s baby, even if he did start the fight himself.

Angel ran up on the porch steps to complain to me about the Unfairness of Absolutely Everything. She is definitely Mira’s daughter.

7

“Mommy, Nova butted me and it’s not fair! Flynn keeps trying to say he’s the boss, but he’s only a baby! He can’t be the boss! I’M the boss! Mommy! I need crunchies and petting and sympathy!”

Thanks to Angel’s own antics I am mostly immune by now to complaints about bossy lambs picking fights above their weight class, so I left them to their squabbling and their breakfast and came inside for my own breakfast.

I have no illusions that Flynn will be any more discouraged by this latest setback than he was by the debacle of last night, but he might as well get used to being chased back to his mother. It’ll be quite a while yet before his barely-visible little horn buds get big enough to impress anybody.

Sunny Day

I’ve been a bit under the weather, so I can’t do anything strenuous (like shearing) for a while, but I’ve been enjoying sitting outside in a camp chair with the sheep enjoying the sun.

I’ve also started updating the gallery page for the first time in two years. Oops. Angel almost succeeded in taking over the world, and she wasn’t even in the gallery yet! Some of the pictures are still very outdated, but at least everyone’s on there now.

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“Do you have crunchy treats?”

Angel came flying over as soon as I set my chair down. I didn’t have crunchies for her, but I did roo her a little bit. She’s being surprisingly good about letting me pull her old fleece off as it loosens. All that’s left now is her hindquarters and a mohawk down her spine.

2

“Nooo, my mommy! My lap! My crunchies!”

Mira had to come droop over my lap mournfully in protest, sticking her face much too close for the camera to focus on. And occasionally thwack Angel away before running back to droop some more.

3

“What are you guys doing?”

Flynn watched the sparring with far too much interest for my liking. They’re going to give him ideas with all their antics.

Angel eventually wandered off when she got tired of letting me pull on her wool, so Mira could relax and doze by me for a while. Mira’s wool is loose too, but she won’t let me pull it off. The only place it’s come off is under her ears where she likes me to scratch her.

4

“This sun feels good.”

Then she wandered off to inspect the fence planks on the back patio. After all, fence planks might loosely be considered sticks, so she thought maybe she ought to try to kill them.

5

“How am I supposed to kill these sticks? They’re too big to drag around!”

Eventually she gave up on that and decided to kick the rocks out of the landscaping again.

6

“Every time I get these rocks just right, they come and put them back in a pile! Why are they always ruining my work?”

Nina decided I’d been paying attention to the bottle babies too long, and photobombed my attempt to document Mira’s landscaping efforts. The camera can’t refocus that quickly, so I end up with blurry sheep heads every time someone decides to photobomb. Which is often.

7

“Hi! Do you have crunchies for me?”

Hi, Nina. Nina needs her annual haircut badly. I need to get better soon, before the shaggy ones start getting heat stressed.

Flynn was also very interested in what Nina was doing.

8

“What Splendid Game is Nina playing?”

I got a few good shots of him before I was photobombed again, this time by Angel. She thought maybe I spontaneously acquired crunchies since the last time she checked.

9

“I’m so sad and hungry, I want crunchy treats!”

She was trying very hard to copy Mira’s sad and droopy look, but it looks rather menacing on her, with those big horns waving in my face.

I stayed out for a while longer, until the sun started bothering me. Mira, Angel, and Nova all stood around the basement door yelling for me to come back for a while, but they were getting hot too. They all went back to their field to sleep in the shade, and I came in to take tylenol and take a nap on the couch.

A Well-Deserved Vacation

Barney hurt his leg somehow last night, so I moved him over with the girls (and away from the Duke & Sons Brigade) so he could rest better. Liam and Jeb sneaked though the gate while I was moving Barney, and I decided they might as well have a vacation, too. Those poor Shetlands put up with a lot.

Duke also attempted to follow with his army of mini-mes, but I shut the gate in his face. He was very offended. I explained the concept of “defeating the purpose,” but I don’t think he understood what I meant by that. Then I tried to explain “you make too many Dukelings when you get out,” but he didn’t understand that one, either. He’s still up by the gate pouting, but I have no sympathy.

Lana, Nina, and Neo all ran to greet the incoming Shetlands, while the Soays hung back and looked spooked. Changes from routine are spooky. I only had my cell phone, since I hadn’t expected anything unusual to happen, but I was just glad I had any camera at all.

Since Flynn doesn’t have much routine yet to disrupt, and he likes meeting new people, he ran right up to the big Shetland boys. He was pretty sure they came for the sole purpose of playing with him.

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“Hi! Anybody want to play with me?”

Much to the despair of his mother, who has relaxed a great deal in her over-protectiveness but would still rather he stop trying to play with strange sheep over ten times his size.

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“Do you see how ridiculous that boy is? I tell him over and over, ‘Don’t talk to strangers, Flynn!’ but does he listen? No he does not.”

Nina and Jeb got into a brief, friendly bout of shoving, just to get reacquainted, which spooked little Flynn into sprinting back to his mother.

 

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“Moooommy! I don’t think I want to play with these guys anymore!”

Which in turn brought Helicopter Mom Nova stomping back to put the fear of herself into the bullies.

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“Alright, which one of you horrible people scared my baby?”

No one was stupid brave enough to confess. Fortunately for their continuing health, Nova was distracted from her warpath when Flynn decided to get over his fright by running off to terrorize play with Angel. Following Angel is Flynn’s favorite game, because Angel jumps way up in the air and runs really fast when he chases her. Everyone else just looks at him in varying degrees of patient tolerance and nudges him back towards his mom when he tries to play.

Nova looked distinctly annoyed as she walked by to go chase him down again. My sympathy is limited, considering I told her not to have another lamb in the first place.

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“Keeping up with that lamb is wearing me out! I’m going to stuff him in that hollow tree and never let him out!”

Eventually in all the milling around, Liam finally found Lana. I wasn’t sure he’d recognize her with her haircut, but he did.

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“Hey look! It’s my girlfriend, Lana!”

Neo wasn’t terribly happy about that reunion. He’d gotten used to being the only wether in the field, and thought he should still be Lana’s boyfriend. Lana was a bit alarmed by all the attention.

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“What am I supposed to do with TWO boyfriends?”

Unfortunately for Neo, Lana seems to like Liam best. She follows him around, while Nina and Neo follow her around. Neo does have my sympathy, since he is a sweet boy and doesn’t really deserve to get dumped, but Liam and Lana have always been inseparable when they’re in the same field, so I’m not surprised it turned out that way.

Nova, (back from chasing down and retrieving her adventurous son once again,) looks at me and rolls her eyes at the drama, which is a bit hypocritical of her, really.

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“Why do those Shetlands have to be so dramatic?”

It’s no wonder easygoing Neo prefers to hang out with the Shetlands. He and Liam settled their differences with a minimum of pushing, and now everyone’s happy again.

Except Angel, who is keeping a suspicious eye on Flynn in case he decides he wants to play again. She says lambs are really super annoying and they shouldn’t be allowed to pick on the grown-ups, which is really very hypocritical of her. My sympathy for Angel is also limited.

No one’s fighting with any desire to injure, and Barney’s found a nice pile of waste hay to sleep on and rest his leg, so as far as I’m concerned things are good.

Big Steps

Angel is getting used to the baby, (now named Flynn) but still prefers to keep her distance. Mira senses weakness in her Bitter Rival, and has been getting the upper hand in their eternal rivalry lately in a big way. It’s hard to insist you’re the boss when you’re scared of a tiny little lamb who doesn’t even have any horns yet.

I’m not too sad to see her taken down a peg, she was turning into quite a bully.

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“Wait for me! Save me! People keep hitting me back when I butt them and it’s awful!”

Little Flynn is gaining in confidence, and the gate doesn’t even faze him anymore.

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“I walked through this gate all by myself!”

He’s so proud of himself.

4

“I’m so proud of you, baby!”

“Aww, Mama, don’t lick me in front of the big kids!”

Yesterday the big challenge was learning to climb up on the back patio. This is a very important skill, because it allows them to bug me for crunchies for an extra dozen feet or so on the way to the back door.

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“Wow, this is a high thing to climb!”

With Auntie Duchess and Mama Nova on either side to help, he managed it eventually.

6

“I made it!”

Once Flynn made it up onto the patio, Nova almost immediately decided he was too close to the house and wanted him to come back down. Too convenient for lamb-snatchers, playing next to the back door.

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“Come back here!”

“Why? Everyone else is playing up here!”

And then the next challenge began: getting back down.

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“Come on, this way!”

“But it’s so high! How do I get down?”

Eventually he got down by flinging himself off as far forward as possible. Then Nova shooed him around to the far more acceptable activity of playing in the landscaping.

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“See? This is a Splendid Game where we tear up the landscape cloth and move all the rocks around! Much safer, no lamb-snatchers here!”

And Angel follows behind, keeping a watchful eye on the scary lamb.

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“Don’t you try anything, ScaryLittleSheep!”

Poor Angel. She’s having a rough time, though not as rough a time as poor Lana, who got a haircut today. She’s being camera shy today, but maybe I’ll get a shot of her tomorrow.

Meet and Greet

I let Nova back out with the ewe flock today. It took approximately 45 seconds for Angel to pick a fight with Nova. The baby wasn’t sure what to make of this new activity.

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“I’M the BOSS!”

“Whoa, what’s going on??”

I was a bit worried Angel would attack the baby, but as soon as she noticed him behind Nova she freaked out and took off running in the opposite direction. Apparently an irrational terror of newborns is hereditary; Mira reacted to newborn Angel exactly the same way.

Pardon the shaky footage, Angel was pawing at my leg.

Baby wasn’t sure he really wanted to go in the yard. His tree cave didn’t seem so bad in hindsight. He was very curious about the gate. That gate had never ever been open before, and he wasn’t sure how that happened. He pushed it with his forehead a few times, just to make sure the gate knew he was keeping an eye on its shenanigans. Then Nova decided to come demand crunchies from me and he had to come with her.

3

“Hi! What’s the big deal about you?”

He came right up and sniffed my hand, while Angel hid behind me and pawed at my back to signify her displeasure. I should only pay attention to her, not to terrifying baby lambs.

4

“Do you have any milk?”

I tried to move the camera down to take a picture from a lower angle, but when I took the camera strap off my neck the little guy jumped up in the air and ran around behind his mother. Apparently he didn’t realize the camera was removable. ShepherdPerson isn’t supposed to have detachable parts like that, he says.

With him hiding behind his mom, Angel felt safe enough to peek around me and yell at him for being so scary.

5

“You stay away, ScarySmallSheep! All the crunchies are mine! I’m the boss!”

Once she was sure he was gone, she ran off to bolster her dented confidence by starting round 426 of her war with Mira.

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“Don’t think I’m not the boss, just because I got scared of the ScarySmallSheep!”

Eventually everyone settled down to graze, with a wide gap between Nova and the others. Baby was disappointed that the yard trees had no lamb-caves in them, but at least he still has his mom to climb on.

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“I think I like this new place, Mama!”

Lambs and wildflowers make a perfect spring picture.

Compromise

Yesterday afternoon brought the first difference of opinion I’ve noticed between Nova and her latest offspring. I had just walked out to check on them, so I only had my cell phone camera, but I still got some fairly good pictures.

“Stop staring at my baby!”

Nova is very nervous about her baby. He is, she says, the most wonderful baby ever born, and therefore everyone who sees him must be out to steal him.

“Get in this hollow! Then I can lay in front and no one will see you!”

“It’s too squishy, I can’t see anything from in there!”

This lamb is proving less cooperative than Drake about hiding in the hollow tree, much to Nova’s annoyance. He wants to look at things, and he can’t see much from inside a hole with his mother laying across the entrance.

“See, I’ll lay right under your chin, then you can see me and I can see everything!”

Nova was anxious, but relatively happy with this arrangement.

“Time for a game of Climb On Mom!”

Nova was not so happy, but tolerant of that. Being climbed on is a fact of life for a lamb’s mother, and by now I imagine she’s used to it, this being her fifth lamb and all.

“I’m going to sleep over here now!”

“Wait, I can’t see you over there!”

Nova grumbled at him to get back over where she could see him, Watcher came running to see what she was grumbling about, Nova panicked when she saw Watcher running towards her baby, and promptly shuffled him off to the other side of the tree.

“You leave my baby alone!”

That side of the tree is significantly more hollow, so the baby could still get a good view of what was going on.

“I’m a sneaky spy-sheep!”

He is a cute little nosy thing. Eventually he decided the much larger hollow on the far side of the tree was big enough not to cramp his style too much, and consented to take a nap in it, while Nova guarded the entrance.

“Aah, this tree-cave is more my size!”

Cedar and Chestnut used to sleep in that hollow when they were babies, the two of them being too big to fit in the smaller hole she used to hide Drake in. This little guy looks a bit lonely in that big space with no twin to snuggle with, but he seems happy. Nova would rather he stay in the small cave, but is satisfied with this one as long as I back off when she starts getting more wild-eyed.

Today it is too rainy for pictures, and Nova has abandoned the rather leaky tree entirely in favor of the hoop house. From what I can see with binoculars through the rain, Baby seems to be happy exploring this large blue cave, while his mother stands and glares at the evil sky water. It’s all very well for Baby, his food can come under cover with him, but Nova’s food is outside getting wet.

Sometime in the next few days I’ll have to reintroduce the two of them to the rest of the flock, but Nova’s going to need to relax some first, or she might have a heart attack.