Hungry Sheep

It’s still too early to know for sure who is and isn’t pregnant, but Princess, Lady, and Nova are all starting look thicker around the middle than Duchess. I’m really hoping Nova isn’t pregnant, I didn’t want her bred this year and especially not to Duke. For now I’m telling myself that Duchess just retains her girlish figure due to never carrying a lamb to full term. It’s entirely plausible.

It’s also plausible that the other girls are just greedy and hogging more than their fair share of the hay. Poor Duchess and Mira are at a disadvantage without horns, but Duchess at least has seniority. Mira keeps getting left out, so today I held back one flake of the morning’s hay ration and carried it out for Mira while everyone was mobbing the feeder. I thought I’d let her eat by herself for a bit, then toss it into the feeder with the rest.

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That worked out just splendidly. I forgot that hay sitting anywhere other than the hay rack is obviously special hay that tastes much better.

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“Hey! I want some of that special hay! Wait for me!”

Little John got all the hay to himself for a while. I thought Mira would take advantage of the opportunity to eat while there wasn’t any competition, but after being chased away twice she was pretty spooked and decided she wanted to be hand-fed, preferably in the barn or the house away from those savage barbarians.

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“At least nobody chases me away from Mommy’s coat pockets! I will just have to live on crunchies until spring!”

She thinks this is a brilliant plan. She’s quite upset that I don’t agree. She doesn’t understand complicated phrases like “you need a balanced diet” and “you’ll end up with nutritional deficiencies” and “If you guys eat any more ‘crunchy treats’ I’m going to have to add Chex cereal as its own line item in my budget.”

I know she’s going to have to learn to compete eventually, and I probably should just let her battle it out with the others… but then I remember how Patterdale, an unusually small bottle-raised Soay ewe out at Saltmarsh Ranch, almost died of starvation her first winter because she couldn’t compete at the feeders… and then Mira gets her own private hay-eating time. Mira owes Patterdale a great debt of gratitude.

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6 thoughts on “Hungry Sheep

  1. I learned the Patterdale lesson the hard way. I’m pretty sure that’s what led to my little Black Welsh Jethro’s loss last winter. He was just too little to compete at the feeder. I naively assumed if he was hungry and there was food there, he’d eat, one way or the other. Not so, I think now. I’m trying to be much more proactive with the little ones this year. It’s so hard to tell under a full fleece though. Hoping for a very early end to winter.

    • That’s sad. 😦 fleece can hide a lot about body condition, even on short-fleeced sheep like Soays, so it’s hard to tell unless you handle them frequently. Which most sheep strenuously object to, of course. Sigh. I’m hoping for a short winter as well.

    • This particular wee one has needed a lot of attention since the day she was born. Fortunately she’s so sweet she’s more than worth the extra effort. 🙂

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