Carry a Big Stick

Mira likes living with the other sheep pretty well, she just doesn’t understand why I don’t stay out there with her. All the other lambs’ mothers live outside with them, after all!

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“Mooommy! Where are you going without me? I’m so sad and abandoned!”

It is so very hard to walk away from that gate, with that sad little face watching me. She doesn’t pine very long, though. By the time I’m a dozen steps away she usually either goes bouncing back up the hill towards the other sheep or wanders down the fence “helping” Watcher do his Very Important Fence Patrol.

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“Ooh, look what I found!”

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“What did you find, Friend Lamb?”

“It’s a very interesting stick, Friend Dog!”

A stick that big is a fascinating new toy. Much to Watcher’s annoyance it was on Mira’s side of the fence. Oddly, he hasn’t been able to find any decent-sized sticks in the yard since he whacked me in the knee with that last one he had. He’s sure there’s no connection.

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“Hey! Push that stick through the fence so I can play with it!”

“No! It’s my stick! I’m going to stomp on it and roll it around!”

Watcher was highly upset by the unfairness of this and started frantically searching around for a stick of his own.

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“There must be something I can play with!”

That is, something besides the frisbee, two rope toys and big rubber ball that he has in the yard. Those outside toys aren’t as special as toys you find yourself, it seems. After quickly grabbing and discarding a dead leaf, a piece of bark and a few longish blades of grass, he eventually brought me a tiny hollow reed with an embarrassed yet hopeful tail wag. I tried to throw it for him, but hollow reeds aren’t really heavy enough to throw and won’t go more than a few feet.

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“That lamb gets a great big stick and all I can find is this dried-up weed stalk. My life is so hard.”

I took pity on the poor guy, grabbed his frisbee and started waving it around acting very excited about it. He happily left his make-shift stick to chase the frisbee, momentary depression forgotten. Dogs live very much in the present.

I don’t think Mira even noticed us leaving. She had dragged the stick almost as far as the gate by then, and had apparently decided it was a snake, or something like that. She was very enthusiastically pounding it with her front hooves trying to “kill” it.

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“Die, you evil stick you!”

I don’t know why my lambs like all these violent games, trying to push each other off of gravel mountains, butting the fence posts, butting each other, trying to kill innocent sticks… I’ve been told my face scrunches into a weird expression somewhere between confusion and amusement when someone uses any variation of the phrase “gentle/peaceful/quiet as lamb.” I wonder why that could be.

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8 thoughts on “Carry a Big Stick

  1. Too funny! Great catch on the “snake killing”. Liddy gives me that same sad look as I leave. The only lamb that still loves me for more than cookies ;-).

    • That is one of my favorite recent pictures! It’s a little blurred, but Watcher was jumping up on me trying to shove his frisbee in my face while I was trying to catch Mira “killing” the stick, so I was glad it turned out as clear as it did!
      Mira loves me for more than crunchies… but the crunchies are a big factor. 😉

  2. My late father used to declare my brother’s miniature schnauzer considered him to be a giant cookie. So it’s not just sheep who see us as dispensers of crunchies. Cats, of course, see as as merely being staff.

    • I do wonder! I’ve seen horses try to kill snakes and things by stomping with both front hooves like that, so I’d assume it’s the same with sheep… But I’m not sure why she’d want to kill a stick unless she was pretending it was something else. I know dogs play pretend, so sheep probably do too. 🙂

  3. Peaceful lamb, indeed. No, brave warrioress stick-slayer!

    Fascinating behavior…there is a great deal more going on in mammalian heads than we have credited until recently, and this is another example.

    Very best,
    Natalie

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