The Innocence of Youth

Flynn is getting to be a big boy now. Technically he’s old enough to wean, but I’m still a little nervous about putting him in with all those older boys by himself. He’s not a bit nervous, mostly I think because he’s forgotten that time he squeezed through the fence and got chased all over the field by his curious big brothers.

1

“Hi, Dad! Can I come play with you and the other boys?”

The boys are always so eager to move over with the rams, until I actually move them and they realize it means leaving their mothers behind. Then they’re not so happy about it, and there is much crying, until they get over it and run off to play Splendid Games with the other boys, most of which are variations on “Let’s slam our heads really hard against this!” or “Let’s climb on that and push each other off!”

2

“Is Flynn coming to play?”

That’s an awful lot of horns, Flynn. I think you better stay with your mother a little longer.

Speaking of mothers, I’m still not sure what’s going on with Duchess’ randomly appearing udder development. My money is on false pregnancy, but you never know with her. If anyone could get bred through the fence it’d be her.

3

“Shhh, I’m being very mysterious…”

Lady has no patience with Duchess’ drama. She firmly tells Duchess to be mysterious on her own time and stop blocking the road. The “road” is just a worn footpath (hoofpath?) in the middle of an open field; Lady could just go around her, but no. Butting Duchess in the rear to tell her to keep walking seems like a much better solution.

4

“Keep moving! I want breakfast and you’re holding up traffic!”

I don’t know why they prefer to walk single-file all the time, but they do. They have their little paths established for walking from one place to another, and they usually don’t stray from them until they actually start grazing. Usually they won’t even pass each other except in one or two places where there’s a “passing zone” worn into the grass.

Nova has pretty much weaned Flynn, though she still has moments of protectiveness. I think she knew I was thinking about moving him, because she was hovering a lot more this morning than has been usual lately.

5

“Stay with me, Baby. You’re too little to play with those hooligans in the ram pen!”

The most rowdy of those “hooligans” are her four other sons, but Nova’s not thinking about that. Flynn is the newest and therefore the best. She even thought about taking Angel to task for fighting with Flynn this morning, which she hasn’t done in weeks.

6

“Don’t hit my baby!”

“He’s annoying! And I’m the boss!”

Ultimately, she decided if Flynn wanted to pick fights with Angel he couldn’t really complain if he got knocked down, and went to say hi to her friend Watcher. They have a strange, long-standing tradition of licking each other’s heads through the fence going back to when they were both babies. It’s probably unsanitary, but there’s no point in trying to get them to stop, and I’m sure they’ve both done more unsanitary things than that, so I let them do what they want.

7

“Hi, DogFriend!”

“Hi, SheepFriend!”

Flynn and Angel, on the other hand are definitely Not Friends. At all. Not even a little bit. They have a tradition (though not a long one, given Flynn’s just barely three months old) of banging their heads together really hard, and not in the friendly, playful way. Angel seems to be growing out of her obnoxious adolescent stage of butting everything she sees, but Flynn is the exception. In her defense, he is a bit annoying with his persistent crush on her.

8

“He needs to go over with the boys Right Now! I’m the boss and I say so!”

But Flynn isn’t discouraged. I’m not sure it’s possible to discourage a ram lamb.

9

“She only hits me ’cause she likes me!”

Whatever you say, Flynn. I don’t know why you couldn’t pick nice, safe Duchess for your hopeless baby-crush like all the other ram lambs did, but if you like the warrior type Angel better I guess that’s your business.

He better enjoy all that baby-flirting while he can, because his days in the ewe pen are definitely numbered.

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Something You’d Like to Tell Me?

It was brought to my attention this week that Duchess has an udder.

“No she doesn’t,” I said, “She barely had an udder when she had Griffin, and she hasn’t been bred in two years. She can’t have an udder, you must have been looking at Nova.”

I was mistaken. Her udder is the same size as Nova’s, and Nova is just now starting to dry off from weaning Flynn. Ewes keep a little bit of an udder once they’ve lambed, but it seems too big to be left over from last year. I didn’t really pay attention to her udder once I knew she’d feed Griffin herself, so I don’t know if this is a new development or not. On the other hand, I’m positive she hasn’t been in with a ram, even accidentally, at any point this year. If she’s pregnant I don’t know how. I’m very confused about what’s going on with her.

1

“A girl has to have some secrets!”

Sigh. Duchess is such a beautiful girl, but she and and her descendants always do find ways to make my life interesting. I’ll have to keep an eye on her for a while, at least until I know if she’s getting bigger or smaller. After all, last time I thought for sure she wasn’t pregnant she had twins.

Not that I would ever complain about having her daughter, Miss Miracle, around to sit in my lap and talk to me.

3

“I’m your favorite, right Mommy?”

Or her granddaughter, the formidable Miss Angel. Angel is currently in a feud with the door to her little stall in the barn. We had to change it around so the opening is on the right instead of the left, and Angel hasn’t voluntarily walked through it since. Since she can’t stay either of the group stalls without picking fights, I’ve had to drag her into her own stall kicking and protesting every night. It’s getting a bit tiring. I’m ready for her to get mad about something else and forget about the door.

4

“You messed up my bedroom! You can’t go around CHANGING things without asking ME first! I’m the BOSS!”

I’m hoping Duchess’ udder is just left over from last year and she’s not pregnant. One Mira and one Angel are enough bottle babies for this farm. And one Griffin, though he’s very busy with important things over in the ram pen and hasn’t let me take his picture lately. For such a shy, timid girl, Duchess has some decidedly strong-willed individuals in her bloodline.

Sequence of Events

*Sorry if there’s a repeat notification for this post; WordPress moved it back to the draft folder for some reason right after I published it, so I had to publish it again to put it back.*

I should know better than to complain about not having anything interesting to take pictures of. The latest monsoon brought down two trees, both of which of course decided to land on the fence. Surprisingly, neither was the rotten, hollow lamb-cave tree. That tree is fine. Both of these trees looked perfectly healthy, although the broken part looks somewhat rotten on the inside now that they’ve fallen.

Ew.

Ugh. Smashed fence is not good.

The sudden bounty of leaves almost short-circuited the sheep’s brains.

“Oh my goodness, I’ve never seen so many leaves on the ground!”

They recovered very quickly. The clean up crew got right to work.

*gobble-gobble*

Update

The weather has been boiling hot or flash flood raining lately, so I haven’t gotten a good sequence of pictures of the sheep doing anything in particular. It’s been q long time between updates though, so here are some unrelated shots of the sheep doing nothing in particular.

Lady and her two good babies trying to clear the morning cobwebs.

Lady’s not-quite-so-good baby, looking like he has several small animal pelts hanging off of him. I’ve tried to cut them off but Will always runs off, clearly communicating the sheep version of “Give me liberty or give me death!!” So he remains ragged and funny looking for now.

Nova’s not-so-good baby, though with her babies that doesn’t narrow it down. Flynn continues to be very cute and very annoying. I think he needs a playmate his own age.

“I think I’m ready for him to be weaned now.”

Nova must not be feeding him much anymore, because he keeps trying to bum milk off the other ewes. They don’t have milk and wouldn’t feed him if they did, so the poor guy’s out of luck on that front.

“Stop trying to sneak off without me!”

Angel has actually been a little better behaved this week. I’m hoping it’s because she’s growing out of her obnoxious phase, but probably it’s just been too hot or too soggy to bother with world domination schemes.

Hopefully the weather will be less miserable soon and I’ll be able to stay out longer and take better pictures.

That’s OK, Take Your Time

The boys have taken to sleeping all in a giant puppy pile every night lately for some reason. They have a hoop house they could get under, but they prefer to pile up against the fence or the side of the barn. They’re certainly not huddling together for warmth, lately it’s already in the seventies even early in the morning.

They’re lazy lately, too. They used to be up by the time I’d go out in the morning, but they’re still mostly laying around long after the sun’s up.

1

“Is it morning already?”

The exodus from the barn is usually a mad rush, but it gets delayed by Angel hanging back to investigate the hay bales. Every morning. I put a cup of salt on those bales last year and she knocked it over trying to steal it. I can’t imagine there’s much left on the straw, but she has to check every morning just in case.

2

“Hmm, any yummy salt up here?”

3

“Hey! This straw needs more salt over here!”

Moving from the field into the yard was again delayed, because Angel and Flynn got in a fight by the gate and no one wanted to pass them.

4

“Take that!”

They settled that fight, but promptly got into another one up by the house.

5

“Take THAT!”

Nova has gotten over most of her overprotectiveness, much to Flynn’s dismay. Fighting Angel was a lot more fun when Nova would swoop in and win for him.

6

“Mooom! Angel’s hitting me! Aren’t you going to make her stop?”

Nova was busy with breakfast and did not care a bit. Poor Flynn. He will be ok though. His horns are still small, but he’s big for his age.

Moving everyone back to the field a few hours later was also delayed, because everyone had settled down on the back patio and refused to budge. They think the yard should be theirs full-time, not shared with the dogs.

7

“Look, we pooped on it, so it’s ours now!”

They did not give up on the Occupy Back Patio movement until I managed to make myself annoying enough that they decided to run back to the field and hope I’d leave them alone and stop poking their silly stubborn noses.

Flynn tried to pick another fight with Angel on the way, but Angel was good and annoyed that I was kicking her out of her yard and didn’t want to play fight. Flynn quickly decided he’d been neglecting his mother recently and really needed to spend more time with her.

8

“Not because I’m scared of Angel! I’m not!”

If he isn’t, he should be. I’m scared of Angel sometimes. At least in the course of chasing Flynn she ran through the gate on her own. Yesterday I ended up having to drag her all the way to the gate by the horn while she planted her feet and struggled, which was not fun for either of us.

My return to the house was delayed, because Mira always suddenly becomes very droopy and clingy when I try to leave, leaning against my legs and being very sad until I sit down and pet her for a while.

9

“I will be so sad if you leave, you don’t want me to be sad, do you?”

So I have to sit and pet her, because I’m not a heartless monster. Eventually she lets me escape, though she still stands at the gate looking sad watching me leave. She perks up once I’m out of sight, so I think she’s ok.

Everyone is sticking to the shade and sleeping a lot because the weather is so hot. Even Watcher doesn’t want to go out. This is only June, I’m worried how hot it’s going to get in July and August. In the meantime, I guess we’ll just keep moving slowly and dealing with the delays.

Sleeping In

I overslept a little bit today, so I left the dogs in the yard longer instead of putting them up and letting the sheep in the yard right away.

1

“Why are you going out there? The grass is wet! Why not stay up here on the porch and pet me?”

Echo is in favor of oversleeping and staying indoors as much as possible.

2

“It is of vital importance that you throw this frisbee right now!”

I’m not sure if Watcher knows what oversleeping is, and he gets very antsy if he’s cooped up inside too long.

The boy sheep all slept in today, too. The only one who got up and sleepwalked his way over to the fence was Apple. The others decided if I wasn’t tossing crunchies at them it wasn’t worth the effort of stirring themselves.

3

“Can I chew on your jeans? Or your fingers?”

He’s a very handsome boy, and very friendly, if one overlooks the fact that he bites. Biting isn’t something one usually has to worry about with sheep, aside from sometimes tugging on my clothes for attention, but Apple is an exception. If it’s there, he will bite it until it is removed from his reach.

The sheep might have been lazy this morning, but the barn bunny was up and about, nibbling the grass in front of the barn doors.

4

All the various (I assume there’s been more than one over the past few years, but I can’t tell rabbits apart very well) barn bunnies are desensitized to me walking by a couple times a day, but they still tend to scoot out of my way if I happen to walk directly towards them. This little guy let me walk right up to him before he got nervous and hopped off through the gate into the lane. He quickly found a sympathetic ear to complain to about humans stomping around in their boots interrupting his breakfast.

5

The girls wouldn’t let me take any pictures at all; they saw the dogs, realized they weren’t going to be let into the yard, and after that all I saw were their tails heading for the far end of the field. If I wasn’t going to let them in the yard they weren’t going to hang around.

Being so ignored might have hurt my feelings if the dogs hadn’t been so happy to see me coming back. Echo even deigned to leave the porch to come meet me, wet grass and all.

7

“Ugh, wet grass. The things I do for you, I hope you appreciate this.”

Watcher intercepted him and tried to shoulder him aside, afraid that I would get distracted petting Echo and forget to throw the frisbee.

8

“Move, Echo! It’s MY turn! I’ve been waiting forever for someone to throw my frisbee!”

I threw the frisbee for Watcher and petted Echo while Watcher was chasing it down. Neither dog was especially pleased to have my attention divided, but there’s only one of me, so that’s the best I can do.

9

“I came out here in the wet grass so you could sit on the ground so I could sit in your lap so you could pet my ears and rub my belly.”

I always let Echo sprawl in my lap whenever I sit on the ground, so he tries very hard to encourage me to sit down often.

Unfortunately for Echo’s plans, I don’t like sitting in wet grass any more than he does.

Fortunately for both of us, we had a nice dry house to retreat to, filled with much more comfortable places to sit. We’ll go back outside later when everything’s dried off.

5 Years

This weekend makes 5 years since the first four sheep came to live here. I spent hours a day for weeks sitting in a camp chair out there trying to convince them (minus Princess) that I wasn’t going to attack them. The poor things (again minus Princess) were so scared, they’d run away if I even made eye contact with them.

Now I have significantly more than four sheep, and I sit in a camp chair worried they (particularly Angel) are going to attack me. I like sitting in the grass, but a camp chair is easier on my knees and provides a bit of a barrier against being trampled/chewed/butted/climbed on by the hungry mob, even if it is a hassle to carry around.

1

“Hey! What are you doing? Do you have crunchies?”

Nova has mud on her nose. She must have been eating dirt again. I don’t know why she does that. She checked out the chair, determined I did not have crunchies, and wandered off.

Mira stood next to my chair and drooped sadly because she couldn’t climb up on my lap.

2

“Mommy, why are you sitting up off the ground? I can’t climb in your lap!”

Angel stood on the other side of my chair and tried to eat the cupholder. For some reason the sheep always rip the cupholders off of every camp chair I take out there.

3

“Any crunchies in here?”

And then launched a very spirited attack on the arms of the chair when she determined there were no crunchies. How dare that chair not feed her??

Duchess, Lady, and Holly watched the attack with great concern, while I tried to take pictures and keep my elbows out of the line of fire. And keep the chair from tipping over entirely.

4

“Why is Angel fighting the chair? Is it a scary chair?”

“I don’t know, we better watch and see!”

She fought the chair for such a ridiculously long time I decided to record her. She was getting tired at this point, but she does not know the meaning of the word quit. Literally, I tell her to quit all the time and she does not know what that means.

(video)

Sometimes petting Angel’s head will either calm her down, or annoy her into going away, but she would not be deterred. Eventually everyone got bored and wandered off; even Mira wasn’t going to stick around if I wasn’t going to give her my exclusive attention or let her eat the cupholder.

5

“Let me know when you decide to sit in the grass like you’re supposed to, so I can sit in your lap!”

Flynn, on the other hand, stayed put and watched Angel with a worrisome amount of rapt attention. He’s convinced Angel is the coolest sheep ever, even though (or possibly because) she knocks him down all the time for being annoying.

6

“I want to butt the chair, too! I’m just a little nervous because Angel is swinging her head around a lot and her horns are scary. Very cool, but scary!”

At this point Angel’s fixation was getting a tad tiresome, so I threw my shoe for her to chase down and kill, which at least distracted her from the chair.

It’s taken me five years to get the sheep to be as friendly as they are. It’ll likely take the next five for Angel to learn not to attack everything that crosses her line of sight.

Flynn was not interested in watching Angel kill a shoe, and was a bit spooked by me throwing it, so he ran off to pester Lana. Lana is his latest crush and he hadn’t flirted with her for almost 10 minutes. She might have changed her mind about being his girlfriend.

7

“Why doesn’t Nova keep better track of this hooligan?”

Lana was not impressed. Even Liam can’t be bothered to feel threatened by Flynn, and he’s usually moderately jealous.

Liam is scheduled to get his haircut tomorrow morning, which is not a moment too soon. His legs are about to disappear entirely and it’s far too hot for that much fleece. I’m sure shearing him will make him feel better. He might be running away from me every time I make eye contact for a while, though.

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!”

 

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

*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.

6

“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.

0

“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.

2

“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.

3

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.

6

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.