The Hairdresser is Open

Much as the sheep might prefer otherwise. Good weather and my free time finally coincided and I gave Liam his haircut this morning. He wasn’t happy about it.

“Why would you do this to me, the goodest boy?”

Liam is the goodest boy. That’s why he deserves to not walk around all summer like a marshmallow. He was getting so fluffy his neck had all but vanished. It can’t be comfortable to be just a ball of wool with a face.

“Is it just me, or is it a lot cooler all of a sudden?”

He’s not as fat as I was worried he’d be, and his fleece is so soft. He is still grumpy at me but I’m sure he feels better.

Jeb is the only Shetland left to do, then I can do some of the Soays that haven’t shed on their own.

He’s Practicing Social Distancing

As I started back to the house after letting the sheep out, I suddenly heard loud tarp-flapping noises. This was startling, because there was no wind to speak of that could have caused the tarps to flap. I turned, and saw that Clover had decided for some reason he really needed to be on top of the hoop house.
Why do they always get up to funny shenanigans when I only have my phone? Pardon the cell phone pictures, I think they’re funny anyway.

“Mom! Clover’s on the roof!”

The others all knew he wasn’t supposed to be up there. They weren’t sure if they should be looking at me or him.

“I’m King of the Hill!”

Duchess and Daisy, off to the right, were concerned about their son and brother being up on the roof. Or possibly they were debating the merits of jumping up there with him.

Clover was highly pleased with himself, until he realized that there was no food on top of the hoop house and he would have to find a way to get down. Getting down is much scarier than getting up.

“Whoa, it looks awfully high on this side! And the roof is getting all wobbly under me!”

“It’s even higher here in the middle! Uh oh!”

“Maybe I can jump off this side?”

“Hey Daisy, get out of the way! I’m coming down!”

“Wheee!”

Daisy bolted a few steps to get out of her brother’s way, which was very startling and caused everyone, including the intrepid explorer Clover, to run away in a panic. I very firmly called after them to stay off of the roof, but I don’t think they were listening.

Now we will have to put something up to stop them from being able to jump up there, because otherwise it will surely be the newest Splendid Game, and almost all the others are a good deal heavier than Clover. I don’t want anyone getting stuck because their legs punched right through the tarps. I’d also rather not have holes punched through the tarp at all, actually.

The boys have been having a lot of very enthusiastic games of King of the Hill on the dirt pile behind the barns recently, mostly at bedtime when I’m trying to get them to come in the barn. Duke always wins, of course. I’ll have to try to get pictures of Duke knocking everyone else off the “hill” like bowling pins next time it happens.

Happy Belated Birthday

Miss Miracle turned five on Thursday! I can’t believe it’s been five years!

I think I should point out that I didn’t forget her birthday, and she did get birthday crunchies on time. It’s only the birthday blog post that’s belated, because she had no interest at all in posing for me, looking at me, or otherwise acknowledging my existence Thursday. It was very cold, which was exciting, and then I let the girls in the yard, which was even more exciting, and Mira and Duchess were having some sort of feud, which was the most exciting thing yet. No time for taking silly pictures!

Danny was so excited he learned to levitate.

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“Wheee!”

Which Angel had to quickly run over and put a stop to. Why? I don’t know, but she was very firm about it.

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“Stop that right now!”

They tussled a bit and Danny decided eating frosted yard grass sounded like more fun than levitation or further provocation of Angel. He’s high spirited, but not stupid.

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“If anybody around here goes flying, it’ll be ’cause I hit them!”

Angel has very firm opinions about what everyone else should be doing, but gets furious if anyone tells her what to do. This is a common attitude with sheep, but Angel’s more than usually willing and able to enforce her opinions.

Friday I tried again to take birthday pictures, but they were once again photobombed by Danny attempting flight in the background, this time in an attempt to pick a fight with Flynn.

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“I’m tougher than you, Flynn!”

And then Angel jumped up on me and made me drop my glove, which had to be carefully investigated.

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“Is this another birthday treat?”

But I did get her to look at me without making a weird face long enough to get a pretty good picture of her.

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“Don’t I get birthday treats again today?”

And this morning, just when I was beginning to suspect Angel and Danny of conspiring against me, I even got a sunny picture of her profile while she was watching Watcher run around.

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“What is YappyDogFriend doing now?”

I was hoping to get a selfie with the birthday girl, but she’s still not in the mood to allow it, so I think these are the best I’m going to get for now. As soon as I opened the yard gate she ran off with everyone else to inspect the cut-down trees for the dozenth time to be sure there aren’t any leaves left.

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“It’s possible we may have missed some!”

It makes me a bit sad when she decides she’s not interested in me for a while, but since I can’t be with her every minute I’m glad she can keep herself entertained with her flockmates and their Splendid Games. She’ll be back to trying to climb in my lap and follow me into the house at some point, I’m sure. Her moods follow a fairly predictable sequence, but not with any regular timing. She may not swing back to her clingy phase for another week.

Happy fifth birthday, Miss Miracle!

Spring Already?

It’s been relatively warm and muddy for a few days, and I’ve started hearing songbirds in the morning when I go out, so I’m thinking we’re moving into spring without really having had much winter. It’s very strange to have spring in January when a few years ago we were snowed in in late February, and still having occasional snow flurries in March.

Barney decided it was much too gloomy outside and he didn’t want to wake up this morning.

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“It’s awfully dreary out there…”

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“I’m just going to stay in this nice cozy barn today, thanks!”

It didn’t take Duke long to come back to the barn looking for his friend Barney, with all his assorted Dukelings in tow.

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“Hey Barney, why are you still inside? It’s breakfast time!”

Duke ran Barney out, but then apparently decided Barney might have had a point and wouldn’t go back out himself.

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“I think I might stay in this nice cozy barn today…”

By the time I persuaded all the boys to go out the girls were highly impatient for breakfast, so I didn’t have any trouble persuading them to leave the barn.

A few weeks ago they put in a stake that was supposed to mark where the new utility pole was going in for the house next door, but they neglected to get permission from the sheep, so the sheep have pretty thoroughly “killed” it. Oops.

Angel’s been butting it regularly ever since it was put in, and today she finally managed to uproot it entirely due to the soggy ground. She considers it “defeated” now and has lost interest, but Mira’s still pawing at it and scooting it around. It’s been several months since I’ve seen her going after rocks and sticks, so I thought maybe she’d finally grown out of it. I suppose she hasn’t, though.

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“This stick does not belong here! It’s terrible!”

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“Don’t touch my stick, Mommy! It’s MY stick!”

Silly, strange girl. I think any marking done in the pasture is going to have to be done with ground paint.

Most everyone is used to Mira’s antics, but the youngest set of lambs were highly curious about this new Splendid Game. Clover tried to “help” Mira with the stick. Briefly. Mira quickly made him regret all of his life choices that led him to that point. Daisy and Marigold were smart enough to watch the shenanigans from a distance. Marigold brought a snack.

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“What’s Mira doing, ShepherdPerson? Is it a Splendid Game?”

Mira decided that the stick was completely ruined once it had Clover’s hoofprints on it, and moved on to bullying a rock instead.

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“This rock does not go here, either! It’s completely ruining my aesthetic!”

Deciding I might as well leave Mira be, I tried to crouch down by the fence to take a picture of the boys, but slipped and fell in the mud. Falling wasn’t very pleasant, but at least I got everyone to actually look at me instead of breakfast for once.

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“What on earth are you doing over there, ShepherdPerson??”

For about five seconds, anyway. Then they remembered breakfast and everything went back to normal.

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“Oh well, whatever she’s doing doesn’t seem to involve food, so it must just be one of those crazy ShepherdPerson things she does. False alarm, back to breakfast!”

This is why ShepherdPerson needs collies as well as sheep; at least if I fall down around them the collies mill around worriedly and “helpfully” poke me with their paws and noses until they’re sure I’m alright. And bring me dog toys to cheer me up about the whole thing. And Echo may decide to sit in my lap and let me pet him if I don’t get up right away.

I’m hoping we have some sunny weather soon. I like having the rain, but it does get gloomy after a while. Not to mention slippery.

Winter Sun

I took my camera out with me this morning, but I left it sitting on a hay bale and forgot to take any pictures. When I realized (an embarrassingly long time later) that I’d left the camera in the barn, I decided I might as well take pictures on my way back from retrieving it.

The sheep were alarmed to see me back so soon. They know I don’t usually loiter when it’s this cold.

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“I am very worried because you’re out here and I think you have crunchies and I’m afraid I won’t get any!”

Poor Danny never gets any crunchies ever, he says.

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“Any crunchies for hungry sheepies?”

Lady’s kids (and grandkid) make sure I can’t get past them to the gate without having my pockets inspected, while Liam and Nina watch from a distance to see if any treats actually materialize.

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“What about us sad, neglected boys?”

Duke, flanked by Ash on the left and Apple on the right, with Cedar and Johnny hovering behind and Drake almost out of frame on the far right. I’m not sure where Chestnut was; he may have been taking advantage of the temporarily abandoned hay racks.

Duke’s mini-mes are not really “mini” anymore, even if Duke still maintains his position as the boss ram. Drake’s the only one that’s still small, but he has another year to grow so he may catch up.

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“Excuse me, there seems to be a rumor going around about crunchies?”

Clover looks like he’s glaring at me, but he’s actually squinting because the morning sun was in his eyes. He’s still a little guy, but he’s looking much more grown-up around the face. I think he’s very handsome, even with his little scurs instead of the big horns the other boys have.

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“Mamas get crunchies first!”

“Yes, Mama!”

Beautiful Duchess loves her “babies” very much, but there are limits. Sharing treats is over the limit.

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“It’s too bright! I won’t be able to see the crunchies!”

Poor Daisy always has to hover behind her mother and brother, and catch the crunchies I toss over their heads.

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“Careful, Nina! The crunchies might be a trick!”

The Shetlands were much more suspicious about my unscheduled visit. They have too many memories of being sheared, and it is coming up on haircut season again. (Already?!)

When no crunchies made an appearance everyone ran off back to the hay racks, except Mira and Angel, who were determined, in the absence of crunchies, to eat my hair, my coat, the camera, etc, while simultaneously trying to push each other away from me. Also Neo, who came up for chin scratches and dozed off standing up, as usual. I only made it back to the house (this time with the camera) when my fingertips were going numb.

It’s still very cold, and the bright sun makes the light angles in picture-taking a bit tricky, but I will miss these cold, sunny days when we get to the dark, soggy days of spring.

Sticking Close to Family

Holly and Marigold are a funny pair. Usually with my flock, the lambs take for granted that their mothers will be there if needed, and the mothers run themselves ragged trying to keep their babies close to them. With Holly and Marigold, Marigold is just as clingy as Holly, if not more so.

I have so many pictures of the two of them moving in perfect tandem, side by side with their heads through the fence, or climbing on the hay feeders, or cleaning each other’s faces. Often they show up in the background of pictures, standing in identical positions watching their flockmates with identical judgmental expressions.

I love Marigold’s habit of physically draping herself over Holly’s back and shuffling sideways on her back legs whenever the flock gets agitated and she thinks they might be separated. Usually the lambs grow out of playing Climb On Mom, but Marigold is over a year old and she hasn’t yet.

I got some pictures of her doing it the other day, which made me happy even though the weather was cloudy and the pictures turned out too dark. Usually if the sheep are agitated enough for Marigold to jump on her mom’s back I’m too busy dealing with whatever’s agitating them to take pictures. I can’t remember exactly what spooked the sheep into running off this particular morning, I think it may have been an unexpected cow showing up in the treeline or something, but whatever it was I had my hands free and my camera handy.

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“I got you, Mama!”

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“I got my Mama!”

Holly and her own mother, Lady, aren’t quite as clingy as they were before Marigold and Danny were born, but they do still tend to gravitate towards each other.

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“I have my mama and my baby both!”

I love this picture too, of all three generations together.

Today they were too busy eating to pose for pictures. Holly had her head in the top of one of the girls’ feeders, and Marigold was trying to pull hay out the back of one of the boys’ feeders.

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“Om-nom-nom!”

Duchess’s little family is usually pretty tight-knit as well, but today she was in heat and distracted with the boys, so her lambs were left to their own devices.

Daisy often comes and stares fixedly at me every time Duchess leaves her alone, and I’m not really sure why.

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“What are you up to, ShepherdPerson?”

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“What do you think, Clover?”

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“I don’t know, I think maybe she’s hiding some crunchies!”

I walked around the corner to check on the far feeder, and Daisy ran after me so she could stare at me some more.

 

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“What are you doing now, ShepherdPerson?”

I made the mistake of tossing her a piece of cereal, and we were instantly swarmed by half the flock who I could have sworn were back around the corner eating hay where they couldn’t possibly have seen us. I think they have some sort of psychic alarm that goes off whenever my hand goes in my coat pocket. It is the only explanation.

The Shetland family ignored all the craziness in favor of eating breakfast together.

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“We need to hurry and eat all this hay before the Soays start all that pushing and shoving!”

I eventually extracted myself from the dogpile (sheep-pile?) and escaped back to the house. I faced twin accusing glares from the gate, from bottle babies who felt I was showing a terrible lack of family loyalty by abandoning them and not letting them into the yard.

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“You are the worst. Mommy. Ever.”

I’m pretty sure Mira would spend most of her time physically hanging on to me if she could. She certainly likes to pin my legs down when I sit on the ground. I can’t give her too much of a hard time about it though, since I am the only “mother” who regularly leaves her lambs entirely for long periods.

I like to think that being the only “mother” who carries Chex cereal around in her pockets and can open all the gate latches that require thumbs makes up for some of it, though.

Merry Christmas

“Christmas breakfast is the best!”

Christmas breakfast is the same as every other day’s breakfast, but fortunately every breakfast is equally delicious.

Also, there are three other feeders they could have eaten from, but the hay in the last one filled is always best.

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The dogs are feeling frisky; even Echo is bouncing around with Watcher.

I’m a little gloomy this Christmas, but the animals are happy, so that makes me feel better.

Griffin

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Griffin

4/30/17 – 12/23/19

I don’t know why you left us so suddenly, and it’s a sad Christmas without you. Hopefully the vets will be able to find answers.

I don’t have many individual pictures of Griffin since he liked to stay in the middle of the flock, but I found this one of him front and center with all of his friends, and his lifelong best friend Drake right beside him. I think that’s even better than one of him by himself.

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses a Horn

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the girls for injuries since they’ve been fighting so much, but it was poor old Jeb who turned up with only one horn last Monday. Broken horns bleed like crazy, but he managed not to bleed to death and it seems like it’s healing over ok now.

I’ve walked all the fences and checked all the feeders, and there’s no evidence of him getting his head stuck anywhere, and no trace of the missing horn itself anywhere in the field that I can find. His horns are big enough I’d expect to be able to find it, so I’m assuming an animal must have carried the horn off. It’s not that I particularly wanted to keep a broken horn, but I would have liked to have been able to figure out how he broke it.

I’ve been trying to get a picture of him ever since the bleeding stopped, but this is scaredy-cat Jeb so of course he’s convinced I’ve sensed his weakness and singled him out to eat him. I finally decided to ambush him at the barn doors when I let them out this morning. He still managed to bury himself in the middle of the flock, but he’s identifiable as the black sheep in the middle with the worried expression and a stump where his left horn should be.

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“Oh no, she’s looking at me again, oh no, oh no!”

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Pre-horn-breakage photo from earlier in the year for size reference. Poor guy’s head is going to be unevenly weighted now.

On a happier note, we put new round bales out yesterday in both fields, so the sheep had brand new piles of yummy waste hay on the ground to eat while mostly ignoring the new bales.

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“Yum, this pile of hay on the ground is the best!”

The girls are equally silly about preferring what’s left on the ground to what’s in the feeders.

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“This is the best hay ever!”

The only ones not crowded around the magical waste hay piles were Duchess and her two “babies,” who were standing by the gate insisting that yard grass would be better than any hay.

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“Let us out! We are starving! I’m sure the grass is greener on the other side of the fence!”

It really isn’t, but they never believe me unless they can check for themselves.

Everyone seems to be dealing with the cold weather well, except being unhappy┬á about the lack of green grass and leaves. I don’t like the cold, but I like that the animals feel more like themselves, instead of drooping around like they do when it’s too hot.

Although if it leads to fighting and broken horns, I could stand for them to maybe not feel quite so lively.

Winter is Here

Officially, it might not be winter until the end of December, but it feels like it’s winter already.

The sheep, who were very sulky and tried to stage a mutiny during all the rain we had last week, are perfectly unconcerned with the cold.

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“I don’t feel the cold, but I think I could use some extra crunchies!”

Lady, the grand matriarch of the flock, decreed that extra crunchies were needed. She didn’t have a hard time convincing everyone else to agree with her.

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“Me too!”

Pretty Nova, demanding her fair share. Duchess and Daisy in the background on the right wanted crunchies too, but were a bit shy of wading through the crowd to get them.

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“Mommy, no! I’m your BABY! You’re not supposed to give crunchies to anyone but ME!”

Poor Mira, always having to share her mommy with the rest of the flock. Danny is hovering behind her because he thinks he’s her boyfriend. It’s a very one-sided relationship, where Danny follows her around and drives off any of the other wethers that come near, and Mira rolls her eyes and either ignores him or glares at him, depending on her level of patience at the moment.

The party got broken up when Nova and Angel declared war and everyone else scattered to avoid becoming collateral damage. Neo hovered around and pretended he was helping Nova, but he actually just got in her way. He crowded in and did some impressive posturing and horn-brandishing, but every time Angel so much as swung her head in his direction he’d flinch violently and turn his head away before she even tried to hit him.

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“Leave my sister alone, or I’ll… approve heartily when she beats you up!”

Poor Neo. He never was much of a fighter, but ever since that time he got his head cracked open a couple of years ago he’s even more reluctant to butt heads with anyone. I don’t blame him at all; I think I’m still traumatized from that one.

In spite of Neo’s attempts to “help,” Angel and Nova fought their way across the field, while the more sensible sheep ignored them and focused on breakfast.

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“Munch-munch-munch!”

I stopped really paying attention to the scuffle, but eventually either Angel won or they called a truce (Angel never loses unless two or three sheep gang up on her together, and Neo doesn’t really count,) and she came flying back along the footpath back to me.

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“Hey, hey! Did you see me? I was fighting! I’m super tough!”

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“I get all the crunchies now, right?”

She did not get all the crunchies, because for one thing I didn’t have any more, and for another she’s a sheep that really doesn’t need too much candy. She’s much less inclined to pick fights even with her own shadow than she was when she was a baby, but she’s still not what I would call sedate.

Watcher was waiting for me at the gate with his Jolly Ball, absolutely frantic to play, but he got temporarily distracted when the neighbor’s cows started lowing about something (probably a new hay bale) and he had to decide if that was something he approved of or not.

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“What are those EvilCowSpies up to now??”

Echo does not worry about such things, he just stands there looking beautiful and hoping someone will pet his ears.

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“I haven’t had my ears petted at all since you petted them on your way out! It’s been ages!”

His sad posing was interrupted by Watcher, who had decided not to object to the cows next door making noise without his permission, and resumed his playtime by running up and pouncing on Echo.

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“Play with me!”

“Hey!”

And then Echo followed me back to the house, trying unsuccessfully to make me sit down in the frosty grass and let him sit in my lap while Watcher bounced around and chewed on his ruff and his ears trying to get him to play.

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“Nom nom, I’m biting you! I’m so fierce! Come on, play with me! Pleeeease?”

“Help, I’m being mauled by a giant puppy! I don’t want to play! I want to go inside where it’s warm and take a nap!”

Taking a nap is an excellent idea for such a frosty morning. This is the time of year when I always seriously consider hibernating until spring, if only I could get the sheep to agree to it. In the meantime I suppose I’ll have to make do with making a “nest” of cosy lap thows, warm sweaters, and hot tea.