Is This the Face that Launched a Thousand Ships?


This is Duchess. Duchess is apparently the ideal of ovine beauty according to every male sheep who has encountered her so far. She goes out of her way to flirt at every opportunity, even when she’s not in season. Duke and Barney both adore her, and fight over who gets to flirt with her through the fence. This morning little Neo (who’s only a month old and has no excuse) sniffed at her and gave the flehmen response, which could be loosely described as the ram version of a wolf whistle.


Duke giving the flehmen response. Also aimed towards Duchess, not coincidentally. Most of the time a ram would be standing up when he does this, but Duke’s a lazy mini-buffalo and couldn’t be bothered with that much effort.

This is confusing to me, because I was always under the educated assumption that attraction in animals was based on which partner would produce the healthiest offspring, and Duchess’ conformation is not as good as the other two ewes’, according to the usual standards of evaluating breeding ewes. She’s also the only one of the three not to produce a live lamb this year (although I’m not sure what went wrong there). Nevertheless, the guys all love her. She is incredibly sweet, so maybe it’s just her personality?


“Ow! Mama! Auntie Duchess butted me!”

“You deserved it dear; now go play somewhere else while Mama and Auntie Duchess ruminate.”

Well, sweet towards everyone except month-old pipsqueaks who won’t leave her alone.

Sorry, that’s kind of a strange picture; Nova is reaching over Neo’s back towards the hay, and they end up looking like a two-headed lamb. I like it anyway because the picture captured the exact moment when Duchess’ head impacted against Neo’s. She was trying to ruminate and Neo was being a pest.



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