Disruptions Due to Snow

We’re getting the first snow of the year this morning. It likely won’t stick, but it was enough to coat everything in white by the time I got up and it’s still coming down.

Brrr. Fresh snow is beautiful, but I much prefer looking at it through a window rather than going out in it. The sheep don’t like snow either, it sticks in their hooves and it hides the grass. Every year there is a mass panic at the first snow, as they all conclude that there will never be any more grass ever, so I was prepared for that. They still managed to put one over on me, though.

We knew we were supposed to get snow, so for the first time in months we closed the wooden barn doors instead of just swinging the gate across the opening, both to keep heat in and to keep snow off of the hay stacked by the doors. The change must have thrown me off a bit, because I forgot to close the girls’ end of the barn behind me before letting the boys out. The boys didn’t notice either and they all ran out their own end of the barn as usual. I had just finished dumping hay into the boys’ hay rack, when I turned around to see Mira, Duchess, Daisy, Clover, and Neo running out of the barn into the boys’ field.

I wasn’t too worried about Mira, since I often let her come with me while I’m filling the boys’ hay racks and she never gives me any trouble, but the others were more of a problem. Neo gets hurt too easily every time he gets mixed up with the boys, and Clover likely would too, given that he’s so small and doesn’t have full horns. Duchess attracts boyfriends like flies and that causes its own set of problems.

The two wethers figured out their mistake fairly quickly and retreated back through the barn as soon as they could get away from their pursuers. Barney chased Neo through the barn and into the girls’ field, but I decided to worry about that once I got Duchess and Daisy back where they belonged.

The pair were being stubborn and refused to come back. I tried to bribe them, but Mira was right on my heels and snatched every treat I pulled out of my pocket before I could tempt the others into coming to me. Trying to shoo her off only made her upset and spooked the other two escapees into running away, so I gave up on that idea. At that point they had decided that I thought I was the boss, and therefore refused to cooperate on principle.

“You can’t tell ME what to do, ShepherdPerson!”

As usual with these sorts of mix-ups, it eventually became a battle of wills. Duchess and Daisy knew what I wanted them to do, they just didn’t want to do it. Fortunately for me, humans are designed to be endurance hunters. When this sort of thing happens I just have to keep walking after them and getting into their personal space bubble and eventually they will go where I want them to just to get me to stop. They know as soon as they cooperate I’ll stop bothering them, so they don’t get genuinely stressed by my low-speed chasing. They only get really stressed if they don’t know what I want, which doesn’t happen often anymore.

Mira thought I was pestering Duchess because I was feuding with her the way the ewes do, and happily joined in the pursuit, “helpfully” butting Duchess away every time I managed to get her to actually stop and look at me. Silly girl had a great time and seemed to consider the whole thing an excellent mother-daughter bonding experience. I’m glad at least one person involved was having fun.

“OK, we’re back in our own field, now stop following us, ShepherdPerson!”

They were quite grumpy with me by the time they gave up and retreated. Actually all the girls were a bit grumpy with me, as they’d had to wait at least five extra minutes for their hay while I annoyed the two rebels into cooperating, and five minutes is a long time when there might never be any more food ever.

And as it turned out, I didn’t need to worry about catching Barney after all. Liam caught him first. Liam gets along fine with Jeb and Barney when he’s over with the boys, but whenever one of them gets in with the girls he gets jealous over Lana and attacks them. I don’t know why he never seems to care about the Soay wethers being around Lana, but apparently only Shetland wethers (and Neo on rare occasions) register as true competition for him. Despite being rather slow and sedate generally, he’s a very powerful animal when he decides he’s going to fight somebody, so it took less than a minute and about three head-butts for Barney to come flying through the barn back to the boys’ flock, regretting all of his life choices. Much to his (and my) relief, Liam considered the matter settled at that point and didn’t chase after him.

I tried to get a picture of Barney once everyone was sorted out and the gates were closed, but he was hiding between Duke and the hay rack and I couldn’t get a clear shot of him. Liam must have made quite an impression if Barney went running to Duke for protection.

“My rival is gone and breakfast has finally been served! All is back to the way it should be!”

Liam went back to his usual placid self right away, but it took Lana a few minutes to calm down. Lana doesn’t enjoy being fought over the way Duchess some of the Soay girls seem to, and I usually don’t let either Jeb or Barney in with the girls for that precise reason, so she was a bit rattled by the whole thing.

“What on earth is going on this morning?! There’s no grass and there’s all this running around and fighting and sheep Over Here that should be Over There! I’m sticking close to Liam in case everything goes crazy again!

“See what kind of nonsense I have to put up with around here?”

Poor Lady, queen of such an unruly flock. It can’t be easy, trying to keep this bunch in line. Not that I would know anything about that.

“You should have let me help!”

Watcher was so wound up he spun in circles all the way back to the porch, jumping around like a puppy. I don’t know if he was excited about the snow or about the mix-up with the sheep or both, but either way it took me longer than it should have to get back to the porch thanks to his antics.

Echo, as usual, wanted nothing to do with either snow or sheep, and waited for me on the porch.

“Oh good, you made it!”

“Now hold my paw and pet my ears!”

Echo only knows one trick but he knows it very well. It’s just the part about only doing it on command that he doesn’t understand. He thinks offering his paw means I am obligated to pet him, regardless of whether I asked for it or not. He’s right of course, I do end up petting him every time he gives his paw. Partly because I don’t want to make him sad, and partly because if I don’t he just keeps getting in my way and whacking me insistently with his giant paw until I do.

I spent much longer out in the cold than I intended to thanks to the sheep and the dogs, so I think Echo and I are both going to hide inside for a while and see if the snow goes away.

8 thoughts on “Disruptions Due to Snow

  1. couldn’t stop laughing at those antics. Yeah I know, not my problem!! I got back from our walk just in time for snow to hit…….but wait……..in 2 hours it will be rain! phooey
    You are the most patient moma/shepherdess!

    • Ours is already melting, so the sheep can relax from Emergency Status regarding grass.

      They do try my patience sometimes with their antics, but their little faces are so sweet I can’t stay frustrated with them for long. 🙂

  2. You certainly do an excellent job of making such chaos sound very funny! Your sheepies sound like they have some delightfully colorful personalities. They have quite the vocabulary!

  3. Dear Sarah,
    Do I sense that Liam is *quite* satisfied after convincing Barney to regret everything, everything? He looks most solid there at the hayrack. Lana is even closer to him that usual.

    Loved your description of being an endurance hunter and helping the ewes back to their field by your close presence. Brilliant.

    Sweet Echo. A proffered paw is a sweet gift no matter how many times it’s offered, or well, maybe after many times in a row you might have to urge him that it’s time to settle down…

    Very best,

    Natalie

    • Liam was happy again once his rival was gone. 🙂 Lana was a little rattled, but the two of them balance each other out very well.

      Annoying them into complying is the best strategy I’ve been able to come up with when they’re being stubborn.

      Echo is very sweet, but he makes it very difficult to walk when he gets underfoot. He has no idea how big he is. 🙂

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