The sheep got no extra crunchies for Halloween. This is because the day before Halloween, Nova (presumably for revenge over the Haircut Incident) yanked the half-full bag of crunchies out of my hand on the way to the barn and dumped it all out. I tried to scoop them back up, but it was eleven greedy sheep versus one of me. Bedtime was delayed until every crumb was eaten, and even then I had to shoo the last few stragglers off with my stock cane. They ran straight back to the spot the next morning to see if they’d missed anything the night before.
I decided that whole mess counted as their Halloween candy and trick or treat. They do not need any more overindulgence in treats, and I’m not brave enough to try to put a costume on anybody.
Last week Liam temporarily abandoned Lana for Duchess, so this week Lana is getting even by hanging out at the fence with Duke. I don’t know why I was surprised that she came in heat, but I guess it was because all my other Shetlands are wethers, so I’ve never had a Shetland come in heat before. She’s not remotely as forward as Duchess, but she is definitely feeling a bit flirty.
“See how YOU like it, Liam!”
Unfortunately, Liam was not paying attention. He was distracted by the small amount of hay I’d dumped in the boys’ feeder this morning, to see if the sheep were at all interested in switching to hay for the winter yet. They’ll need to start eating hay pretty soon, but they won’t usually eat much hay until the pasture dies off for the year, and there’s no point in filling the feeders if it’s all just going to go to waste.
“Food! We’re saved!”
A few of the Shetlands and half-Shetlands were the first to explore the hay. Not counting Mira, who “helped” me cut into the bale by sticking her nose in the way of the scissors, and “helped” me carry it out by bouncing up and down trying to snatch mouthfuls on the way. I expected the nosy Soays to be first, but given that it’s food, I guess it’s not that surprising. The Shetlands do love their food.
I did mention I put the hay in the boys’ feeder, right? Johnny was the only one in that field paying any attention to the hay. Barney, Jeb, and the Dukelings were down in the opposite side of the field ignoring the commotion, and Duke was more interested in flirting than eating.
“OK, the hay situation has been thoroughly investigated, now on to ShepherdPerson’s pockets!”
The hay was an exciting novelty, but I suppose they’re not quite ready to give up on the pasture yet. After the initial rush, the Soays lost interest. They checked my pockets for crunchies, (Mira could have told them she’d already checked and there weren’t any) then wandered off to graze.
The Shetlands hung around a while longer, but about an hour after I put the hay out, the Dukelings descended and everyone except Johnny and Duke backed off.
“Woe is us, we can’t get to the hay. We shall surely starve. Woe.”
Poor Barney and Jeb. They’re too scared of Duke to go up to the feeder while he’s there, and I’m 90% sure he isn’t even interested in the hay, he’s just looking at the girls through the fence. I used to think it was odd that a ram’s average lifespan was so much shorter than a ewe’s, but after watching Duke spend most of autumn every year obsessively patrolling the fencelines instead of eating, I don’t think it’s so strange anymore.
The British Soay ram I’m hoping to rent this year should be coming around mid-November; that will be exciting! Although I am a bit worried that Duke’s head will explode. I think the constant stress and agitation probably takes as much toll on the poor guy as the not eating. I read about a Soay ram once who literally died of exhaustion from guarding his ewes all through breeding season. He was a good few years older than Duke, though.
My tentative plan is to just breed Nova and Mira this year. Holly’s too young, Duchess is a better auntie than mother, and Lady’s had four lambs in three years. She needs a break. I’m a bit nervous about breeding Mira, but she is the right age to have her first lamb next year, and her conformation and overall health don’t have any obvious problems that would make lambing difficult. She should be fine. And Nova loves being a mother so much, I’d hate for her not to have at least one more baby. A girl, this time. After this year’s flood of twin rams, I’m really hoping this new ram passes on more X chromosomes than Duke.