Princess and Lady were supposed to stay in with Duke until the end of December, but Lady escaped from the ram pen and refused to go back, and I couldn’t leave Princess over there by herself so I had to move her back as well. So, breeding season is apparently over for the year. I know they both cycled once, so I suppose I’ll just have to hope they settled.
Their assorted offspring were very glad to have them back, and Duchess was relieved not to be in charge anymore. Leadership of the flock may fall to the oldest female, but Duchess is not well suited to that sort of responsibility. Having a nervous and flighty flock queen makes everyone in the flock nervous and flighty.
Thanks to the brave leadership of Princess and Lady, the flock has gotten much better about going into the barn at night, although I do still have to go back out and coax Duchess in after everyone else is already put up. It’s a great advantage to have a fearless leadersheep like Princess.
This morning I let the sheep out of the barn as usual, and they started walking down the lane towards the field as usual. Then the disadvantage of having a fearless flock queen reared its head: Princess got an Idea. I always get a sinking feeling when I see that calculating expression on her face. It very rarely means anything good.
“Hey, instead of turning left into the sheep field, what if I jumped over this netting to the right into the hay field? That sounds like a Splendid Game!”
I tried to head her off, but I wasn’t fast enough. She may not run or jump as often as the others, but she is a Soay, after all. She can be extremely fast and agile, especially when she’s doing something she knows I don’t want her to do.
“Mama! Where are you going?”
And of course wherever Princess goes, her “clan” of descendants must follow… and then Lady and her boys refuse to be left out… and then Duchess and Mira can’t stay behind alone… and the next thing I know the whole flock is off following Captain Princess to explore strange new pastures, to boldly go where no sheep has gone before…
“I like this field, Mommy! Why didn’t you let us out here sooner?”
I tried to call them back, but they just looked at me and then went back to grazing their way off towards the horizon. Then I went back to the house and got the bag of crunchies and they nearly ran me down racing back into their proper field. Greed is such a useful trait for sheep to have.
The big boys all stood around and watched the whole thing with the sort of fascination usually reserved for spectator sports.
“Half my hay ration says Bran gets stuck in the fence coming back.”
“Nova’s climbing on ShepherdPerson trying to grab the bag of crunchies, isn’t that like a foul or something?”
“I wish I could grab that bag of crunchies, I’m hungry.”
Duke is very depressed about his lady friends leaving him, but without girls in the field Duke is much less aggressive towards his
bitter rivals poor wethered companions. The Shetlands aren’t avoiding him as frantically as they were before, so I think they’re probably relieved to see the girls go.
I would have liked the girls to stay a while longer, but everyone (except Duke) is happier this way, and it makes my life much easier when the sheep are happy.