Picky Eaters

I’m not updating as frequently because a) half the keys on my keyboard are giving out and making it frustrating to type, and b) every picture I take seems to look more or less the same. Brown grass, brown mud, (mostly) brown sheep, grey skies. Blah.

This last week has been a bit more exciting though. I had a scare with Princess and what looked like pregnancy toxemia (a potentially fatal metabolic disease of late gestation, also known as pregnancy ketosis, sleepy sickness, twin lamb disease, and a couple other names), but the vet said the only thing she could find wrong was that her calcium levels were slightly low. She prescribed a supplement and recommended mixing it with Gatorade.

When I decided to major in animal science, I certainly didn’t think it would lead to me force-feeding Gatorade to a sheep twice daily. Princess actually loves the taste of the Gatorade/supplement mix once it’s in her mouth, but she objects to the drench gun on principle. She kicks and butts and fights until I manage to cram the tube into her mouth, but she stops fighting the minute the stuff hits her tongue and starts guzzling the stuff down as fast as I can give it to her. Then she spits the tube out and walks off licking her lips.

The girls are far enough along in pregnancy that I’ve started giving them some grain. Nothing can ever be simple, so they have decided that grain is only edible if it’s in my hand, or if it’s on the ground in the mud. If it’s in the (clean) grain tray it’s contaminated and unfit for consumption. They’ll eat crunchies out of the tray without a thought, but not grain. Apparently this makes perfect sense if you’re a sheep.

The girls also refuse to eat hay out of their own hay racks. Every morning I dump hay into their rack, and after a brief scornful inspection they ignore it. Princess might eat a bite or two, with the air of a kid eating asparagus, but most of it sits in the rack untouched.

As soon as I open the gate, they dart out and follow me down to the Boys’ Clubhouse. They wait, practically vibrating with excitement until I dump hay into the boys feeder, at which point they start tearing into the boys’ hay like they’re starving to death. The boys attack with equal enthusiasm from the other side, and for a few minutes the feeder looks like it’s being mobbed by a swarm of woolly piranhas.

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“We’re eating for two and our hay is nasty, so we need to eat yours!”

“No, that’s ours! You can’t eat all our hay!”

“Watch us!”

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“Why don’t WE ever get yummy hay like this, Mommy?”

The hay is in every way identical. It comes from the same bale. There should not be the slightest difference. Princess thinks maybe the magic happens in the bag somewhere between her feeder and her other feeder that was supposed to be for the boys. She kidnapped the bag and ran off with it while my back was turned.

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“Any more of the good stuff in here?”

Eventually the girls meander back to their own clubhouse and pick at the hay in there, but they end up eating less than half of it while the boys’ feeder is always completely empty by morning. Today I made an extra trip and gave the boys more hay to make up for what the girls are stealing. The minute my back was turned, Barney followed Princess’ lead and kidnapped the bag.

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“I’m sure if I stomp on this bag enough more hay will come out.”

And that is definitely a hay-carrying bag. Any resemblance to a heavy-duty garbage bag is completely coincidental.

So, the basic summary of the new year so far is that on the positive side Princess is definitely pregnant with an indefinite number of lambs, she doesn’t have toxemia, and she’s pretty much back to normal I think/hope. On the negative side I still have no idea what was wrong with her, the girls hate their feeders for some reason, and my barn coat is sticky and smells strongly of spilled Gatorade.

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7 thoughts on “Picky Eaters

  1. Why is it that girls of every species are all about DRAMA? Being preggers with a ton of hormones, the girls are probably especially wacky.

  2. Hmmm… Let me know if you’d like Kathy’s number to run it by her as well. She’s always willing to help shepherds, especially Kentucky folks.

    • I don’t know. It looked exactly like toxemia, sleeping all day, not eating much, staggering and lagging behind the flock… not normal Princess behavior at all. The vet said there was nothing wrong with her, and she seems better now so… I’m not sure what to think.
      Do sheep ever just get a cold or something?

  3. Sounds like you should just put hay in the one manger. lol Also mix cookies and grain in the tray? Oh they’ll think of another way to confuse the issues. 🙂

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