Rainstorm

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

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

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

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

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“Quick, everybody to the trees!”

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

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“Now what are we going to do?”

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

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

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

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

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

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“Sigh, all those yummy leaves…”

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

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“When do we get our crunchies?”

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

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

Saturday Morning

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

“Crunchies?”

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

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

“Crunchies?”

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

“Does she have to hang around with us?”

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

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

Nope. Sorry. One way ticket.

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

“Breakfast!!”

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

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

“I gots a tasty leaf, ShepherdPerson!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boy Trouble

The boys got in with the girls yesterday. They broke the twine that’s been holding the field gate closed ever since they broke the clasp on the chain that used to hold the gate. Now I have a chain with a (hopefully) sturdier clasp. We’ll see how long that lasts.

I know they can do their escaping less destructively, since last time they got out, they got into the yard by lifting the yard gate right up off of its hinge pins. They say Soays have ancient genetics, but I’m starting to wonder if they’re part velocirapor.

Drake and Griffin were thrilled to have so many other guys around, and ran around challenging everyone from the Dukelings to great big Little John to duels. I think it was a mind blowing experience for the Dukelings, having tiny ram lambs pestering them trying to pick a fight. Oh how the tables were turned!

The two babies tried to sneak out with the rest of the boys when we finally got them separated, but once they realized that being big, grown up rams meant not having their mamas following them around they decided they weren’t quite ready to grow up after all.

The rest of the boys were pouty at having their Grand Adventure spoiled, but I’m sure they’ll get over it (and start planning the next one, ugh) soon enough.

“Why do you keep fixing all the fences?? We work hard to break those down!

Duke is a ram with Too Many Kids. When the Dukelings are being especially bothersome I think Duke agrees with me, but he’s not sure how it keeps happening.

“I’m proud of all my sons!”

“But there are an awful lot of them… Why don’t you guys go follow Johnny around for a while?”

“You don’t think he’s trying to get rid of us, do you?”

“Of course not! Why would he want to do that?”

The Dukelings are shedding off and proving my suspicion that the average Dukeling is 25% hair and at least 25% horns. It’s going on a year now that I’ve been telling myself every few days that I need to get them wethered. At this point I may as well wait and do them and the babies at the same time.

Fortunately it didn’t look like anybody was in heat, so there probably won’t be any unplanned winter babies. An escape still isn’t something I like seeing when I get home from work. 

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my birthday! My mom and I sat outside with the babies for a while, which was nice. I haven’t had as much time lately to sit with them as I’d like. Angel moved out this week, so there’s plenty of ruffled feathers to soothe. The move was a little bit ahead of schedule, but she weaned herself a long time ahead of schedule, so there wasn’t much point in her staying in the house anymore.

Watcher broke Angel’s bottle last week, (I was very upset, that was Mira’s bottle. Echo is my favorite dog now.)  so there was much scrambling to obtain a replacement bottle before the hungry yelling blew anybody’s eardrums. She was very happy and relieved at first when I managed to find one for her, but after one or two feedings she decided she didn’t like the new bottle anymore and wanted her old bottle back. Which unfortunately wasn’t possible since the old one was in several pieces.

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“This isn’t my bottle, why are you trying to trick me?”

I really didn’t want her to be weaned so early, but she apparently decided she’d rather go without entirely than drink from the awful, terrible, completely unacceptable new bottle, so after a day or two I gave up on forcing her. She was even less happy about the barn than she was about the bottle, but she seems to be settling in just fine now.

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“I can’t pose right now, I have to eat lots of grass to make up for all the milk you mean people aren’t giving me!”

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“Go away, Griffin! I can’t play, I have to eat! I’m starving, they won’t give me any milk!”

She was offered milk. Over and over she was offered milk. She’s just too finicky for her own good. I don’t know how she ended up like that, it’s not like anyone else in her family is spoiled at all.

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“Do I get crunchies for your birthday, Mommy?”

Mira got crunchies for my birthday, because she always tends to get her way. Then Angel had to come running over to see what Mira was getting. I’m not sure I like being outnumbered here.

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“Where are MY crunchies? Don’t I get crunchies for your birthday, too!”

Angel got crunchies for my birthday, too. Mira wasn’t happy. There was squabbling. Business as usual.

Drake took advantage of the ruckus to try to eat the tags off of our camp chairs.

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“I’m gonna eat this!”

He did actually manage to rip it off, which led to me chasing him around trying to snatch it back before he swallowed it. I did manage to get it away from him, but Nova got mad about me mistreating her poor little baby and shuffled him away.

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“Why do you always pick on MY babies? My babies never do anything wrong!”

What is it about lambs that makes their mothers so indulgent? Case in point, my tolerance of Angel’s blood feud with my foot. She says living out with those bratty boys she needs to practice her head-butting. I say living with all these bratty sheep of both genders I deserve to not have my feet pounded to pulp.

Of course the lamb wins that argument. Those lambies always seem to get their way somehow.

Four Years

This weekend was my fourth anniversary of sheep keeping. (If you measure by exact days it was last Thursday, June 1, but measuring by “first weekend in June” makes this post only one day late instead of four days, so I’m going with that.) I remember the day those first four sheep came here to live, but it seems like it was a lot longer ago than four years.

Somehow in only four years I’ve gone from four sheep to… um… more sheep than I have fingers to count them on. I think I counted about fifty last time I checked. Although they were moving around a lot, I might have counted a few twice. My records say I have twenty-two, but it seems like more than that.

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“Should we beat up ShepherdPerson for crunchies, or is it too hot to bother?”

Ah, the good old early days when all the sheep (except Princess) were too scared to beat me up for crunchies. Now I can wave my arms over my head and yell trying to shoo them away and they don’t even flinch, they just stand there looking mildly concerned for my sanity. I don’t really blame them, sometimes I’m mildly concerned for my sanity, too.

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“Crunchies?”

Lady was one of those first four sheep. She and Holly feel neglected I’m sure, since they don’t have lambs this year and I’ve mostly been paying attention to the mamas and babies. Lady needed a break after having four lambs in three years, and I think Holly’s probably happy to still be Lady’s baby for another year.

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“We want crunchies, too!”

Duke, now edging towards the beginning of middle age, has a small army of duplicates running around, only some of whom are pictured here. Nobody’s gotten brave enough to challenge him for top spot yet, though.

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“Chompy-chomp!”

Angel looks like she’ll be as beautiful as her mother and grandmother when she grows up, but remains frustratingly hard to photograph unless engaged in acts of violence against my feet. I sympathize completely with Mira’s physically-painful-looking eye roll in the background.

I made a flower crown out of clover blossoms and tried to put it on Mira, but she thought it was a halter and fussed and fidgeted until she knocked it off onto her back where she couldn’t reach it. Then she just glared at me until I took it off of her. Mira has a very low tolerance of anything that might be a halter in disguise.

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“You only pull out halters when you’re trying to tell me what to do! This better not be you trying to tell me what to do, Mommy!”

On the other hand, I think Mira has no business rolling her eyes at Angel, given that Angel probably got her attitude from Mira.

I tried putting the flower chain on Angel, but she fussed and fidgeted and ran around in a panic with it dangling from one ear.

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“Get it off!”

Like mother, like daughter.

I then tried to put it on Nova. With absolutely no fuss and a bare minimum of fidgeting, she promptly tossed it off her head and ate it. Thus ended my attempt to take cute flower pictures.

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“ShepherdPerson’s being annoying and doesn’t have any crunchies, let’s go eat grass!”

One fun thing about having a larger flock is that watching the whole big mob charge gleefully through the gate is much more impressive than when it was only the three little ewe lambs with Duke wheezing along behind.

running-sheep

But those early days were fun and special, too. I’m glad I have pictures.

Keeping Busy

Griffin is growing very quickly, but he still likes his naps. Preferably on a flat rock or in his tree-cave, but he will lay in the grass if there’s no rock close and he’s just Too Tired.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES“Where’s a cozy rock when you need one? Oh well, I guess sleeping in the grass isn’t too bad.”

He has to take his naps where he can, because sooner or later either Drake or Angel will wake him up and want to play-fight.

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“Hey, not so hard!”

“You interrupted my NAP!”

Angel’s getting much better about playing with the other lambs, and braver about play-fighting.

The play fight only lasted for a minute, then it was time to run off and graze a little bit. The lambs are still prone to biting off more than they can chew. Literally.

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“This grass won’t fit in my mouth!”

Then the three lambs had to run off and re-investigate the rocks by the retaining wall. Sadly, none of those rocks are big enough or flat enough for napping Griffins.

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“Maybe there’s buried treasure!”

And then they ran off for a round or two of the Floor Is Lava. It’s harder with three lambs instead of just two, especially with how fast all three of them are growing.

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“Careful not to fall in!”

All this playing burns a lot of energy, so we had to take a break for Angel’s bottle, which Mira only halfheartedly tried to steal. She definitely recognizes that it’s her old bottle, but she doesn’t really want it any more. It’s just the principle of the thing.

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“Best part of the day!”

Getting back into the house to rinse the bottle out was a challenge, because Mira had stationed herself firmly by the porch gate to prevent me sneaking away without her.

That porch gate has been off its hinges for years, but we propped it back up because Mira was making a habit of crying outside my bedroom window making a racket and also making a mess of the porch. I don’t know how she knows which window goes to my bedroom, but she does.

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“You’re not getting past me, Mommy!”

Angel quickly joined her in barricading the steps. Angel has recently discovered the sneakiness of her human caretakers who keep sneaking off and leaving her with the sheep. She’s becoming a highly suspicious and paranoid little lambie.

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“If you keep forgetting to take me with you, I’m going to start thinking you’re doing it on purpose!”

Mira may not have raised Angel, but the two of them are definitely related. Every time I start wondering how long it will take for Angel to get used to being outside on her own, Mira starts crying at the window or knocking on the door again, and I reluctantly conclude the answer is probably ‘never.’

Fortunately she also inherited her mother’s good looks. You can’t stay annoyed with such a cute little face, even when they keep yelling at the top of their lungs and/or banging on the doors wanting in.

Antics

Drake is very convinced that he is a big boy. He can’t understand why he can’t reach the leaves by climbing into the tree. Neo can do it, so there’s no reason at all that Drake shouldn’t be able to.

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“Alllmost!”

After giving that up, he and Griffin ran over to chew on my shoes. Angel has convinced them that it’s a Splendid Game.

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“Chomping shoes is a Splendid Game!”

Mira doesn’t like them chewing on my shoes any more than she likes Angel doing it. She came charging in and ran the boys off, but Angel is harder to discourage.

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“Why won’t you go away and leave us alone?”

The sentiment would be equally accurate coming from either one of them.

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“Chomp, chomp!”

She would not stop biting and butting my feet until I got so aggravated I took my shoe off and tossed it away from me. Angel chased after it and continued trying to pound it into the ground.

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“Die, die!”

I do not understand that girl.

Mira is becoming very depressed. I’m a bit worried about her. Rivalry is one thing, but she seems like she’s worrying herself sick.

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“Mommy, don’t you love me anymore? I’m still your favorite, right?”

Poor baby. I’ve been too busy to spend much time outside, but I have been doting on her as much as I can trying to make her feel better.

Angel finally got bored with “killing” my shoe and decided to snatch my cell phone instead. I thought it was only human kids that tried to steal adults’ cell phones, but Mira has always had a habit of stealing my phone, too. She disapproves in general of anything I pay attention to instead of her. I think she would be happy if Angel and my phone ran off together.

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“I want this!”

I tried to pet her head, to see how close her horns are to coming through, but she threw a fit and flounced off to passive-aggressively eat leaves in my direction. Definitely related to Mira. It’s not easy to fill the act of eating with such clear overtones of offended indigation.

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“You can’t just reach out and touch my head like that! Don’t you have any respect for my personal space? Any sense of boundaries? That’s the most terrible thing I’ve ever heard of!”

A bit rich, coming from a lamb whose favorite pastime is launching unprovoked attacks on my footwear while my feet are still in them, or stealing cell phones right off my lap or out of my back pocket. But then nobody ever accused a sheep of having consistent standards of behavior I suppose.

I hadn’t heard anything from the boys in a while at that point, so I got up to see what they were doing. I was worried they were up to mischief, but they’d just settled down for a nap. Griffin still likes to curl up on or next to rocks. Today he’d picked one right next to the retaining wall, which doesn’t surprise me a bit. Sheep have no fear of heights that I’ve ever been able to detect.

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“This is a comfy rock!”

He’s going to be very upset I think when he gets too big to fit on those rocks. I might have to buy a large flat boulder for him to sleep on when he grows up.

Angel is getting too big and too energetic for the house, so we’ve been trying to leave her outside with the other sheep some lately. Sometimes she’s ok for a while, sometimes she throws a fit.

The main difficulty with leaving her out is that she’s very inconveniently hard to contain. We tried leaving her in the field the other day, but she got through the fence into the yard somehow and came running to the back door. Today I left her out in the back yard with the flock, and next thing I know I hear her all the way on the other side of the house yelling at the front door for me to let her in. I’m not sure how we’re going to get her to stay out with the other sheep if she keeps escaping at will from every pen we try to put her in.

Given that Duchess jumped the yard fence at three months old, and Mira came bursting in through the dog door when I was trying to leave her outside, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Angel’s an escape artist.

Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day weekend I have been the subject of a very heated territorial dispute. It all started out peacefully enough, with Angel honing her baby combat skills on my foot, which is her favorite Splendid Game.

Then suddenly here comes Mira like a freight train. I don’t know if she thought Angel was hurting me or if she was just jealous of the attention, (probably the latter) but whatever it was she was livid.

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“No butting my mommy’s shoes!”

“Hey!”

Angel actually stood up for herself and hit Mira back for once, which took quite a lot of bravery on her part.

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“Don’t tell ME what to do, you big bully!!”

“I’m not a bully! YOU’RE the one trying to steal my mommy!”

I was very proud of Angel. Of course, she got knocked head over heels in two seconds flat, but still. It was very brave of her to try.

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“I’M your baby! If anyone’s going to chew on you, it should be ME!”

Unfortunately for Mira, Angel is her daughter, and thus not easily discouraged once she has her mind set on something.

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“I’m going to pull this zipper off, and you can’t stop me!”

“Nooo, go away!”

Poor Mira decided the only recourse left to her was to flop heavily onto my lap and act so upset and abandoned that I would pay attention to her instead of Angel.

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“MY mommy! MY lap!”

Does it count as lap sitting if only the front end fits and the back end is still up in the air? Mira thought it counted, anyway. And all dramatics aside, she was genuinely very sad and distressed so I didn’t have the heart to make her get up.

Angel didn’t care either way if Mira was in my lap, since she’s not as cuddly as Mira and isn’t really much of a lap-sitter. She’s pretty much only interested in chewing on and/or attacking my feet for some reason I probably don’t want to know.

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“Grrr, take that, foot!”

She and Apple would probably be great friends.

Duchess and Nova deserve all the recognition for their mothering skills, but at the time I was taking pictures Drake and Griffin had teamed up and run away on a Grand Adventure and were far too busy with their very important quest to stop and pose with their poor tired mamas.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the human moms, and sheep moms, and human moms of sheep babies out there today!

Irresistible Invitation

Drake wants to play with Angel. He invites people to play with him by pushing them with his head. He doesn’t know why Angel isn’t enthusiastic about that. He’ll just have to keep trying.

“Play with me!”

“Stop butting me!”

Angel keeps running back to me in the persistent hope that if she ignores him and chews on me with enough determination Drake will give up. 

Griffin mostly just toddles up behind Drake and watches the fun.

“Everybody chews on ShepherdPerson a lot, do you think she tastes good?”

“I don’t know, maybe?”

I got a short video of one lap of Drake’s campaign for Angel’s attention. His playful little head-pushes are so cute. You can see his confusion when she doesn’t respond to his friendly gestures.

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Sooner or later Angel’s going to get irritated enough or brave enough to butt him back. If Griffin is smart he’ll stay out of that fight.

“I like chasing better than head-butting, I don’t have any horns yet!”

Lambs are the best things, they’re so cute and sweet, even the ones like Griffin with his funny face.

The Floor is Lava

I had to leave Angel outside for a few seconds again to grab my camera today, which initally made her very upset, but when I came back out she’d gotten distracted from her abandonment and was playing the Floor is Lava on some old fence planks with Duchess’s boy. (Who is now almost definitely Griffin. Or Gryphon. Both are considered correct transliterations, but my spellcheck doesn’t like Gryphon so I’ll probably stick with Griffin. Maybe. Gryphon looks cooler, though. Hmm.)

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“We have to stay on the planks because the patio is lava!”

Duchess was somewhat worried that she was going to have to babysit Angel indefinitely, but once Angel saw me coming she quickly abandoned her game in favor of attacking my feet.

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“There you are! Quit sneaking off on me!”

Little Griffin (Gryphon?) sidled over where he could very stealthily watch me while maintaining a completely believable cover of pretending to eat grass. Even though he can’t really chew grass yet, and his watching actually wasn’t all that subtle.

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“I am a very sneaky spy-sheep!”

Gryphon (Griffin?) is ridiculously photogenic, angry eyebrow markings and all. I have so many adorable pictures of him. All three of the lambs are adorable in person, but he photographs better than the other two.

Angel is a gorgeous lamb, but she’s so dark she tends to turn into a silhouette unless the lighting is just right, plus she sticks so close to my legs it’s hard to get pictures that aren’t just close-ups of her nose.

Drake is light enough, he just doesn’t often hold still long enough to get a good close-up picture of him.  He came running down to see what I was doing (without any attempt at stealth), then he decided he wanted to play on the planks too, and Griffin/Gryphon abandoned his sneaky ShepherdPerson-watching to join him.

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“Oh no, the patio is lava again!”

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“Be careful, don’t fall in the lava!”

“I won’t!”

That was a Splendid Game until their mothers decided to move up the hill. Then they moved on to playing the more traditional King of the Hill on the rocks in the landscaping. (At least the few remaining rocks that Mira hasn’t scattered everywhere.)

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“Standing on this rock makes me look super tall and intimidating!”

His idea of tall and intimidating is about the same as his idea of sneaky– he throws his whole heart into the role, and it’s extremely cute and funny, but not terribly effective. Someday he probably will be pretty tall, since his mama, Duchess, is a tall ewe, but for right now he’s so tiny he can’t help but be cute no matter what he’s doing.

He’s also small enough to need very frequent naps (and he sleeps like a log, it’s very hard to wake him up for anything) so once he’d nodded off, Drake ran around to the porch steps to try to coax Angel into playing with him. Angel is still shy of him, since his idea of a friendly greeting is to bonk heads, and Angel is too used to butting her human caretakers. She’s never butted heads with anything that can butt her back.

Still, she did consent to sniff at him a little bit while standing safely on a higher stair.

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“Why do you have to always head-butt everybody so much?”

“How else would I say hello?”

Nova’s babies are always such cocky little guys. Angel’s still slightly bigger than he is, I’m hoping she’ll be brave enough to knock him down a peg or two before he gets bigger than she is. Nova had Neo so well trained when they were babies that I’m pretty sure he has no idea she’s now tiny compared to him, so I know it works.