New Normal

Duke is quite happy with his new situation in the ewe flock. Having all of his girlfriends is apparently a good trade off for not having his small army of sons anymore. The other boys in the ewe flock are not happy at all. Duke doesn’t want them around his girlfriends. He does not want them around his hay. He isn’t beating anybody up yet, but he is going to find himself booted back to the ram field if he gets any more aggressive. Neo and Jeb have both had quite enough head trauma for a lifetime, thank you very much.

“Woe is us. Why is Duke in This Field instead of That Field where he belongs? ShepherdPerson has the worst ideas.”

I don’t think Liam is really scared of Duke, but he doesn’t like the stress of conflict and prefers to avoid him. Jeb and Neo are definitely nervous, and I don’t blame them. I’m splitting the hay into three different feeders now, so Duke can’t keep them away from all three at the same time. It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s working for now.

“Yay, our own private hay! Peace at last!”

Their peace only lasted as long as it took for Duke to notice them and decide that the hay they were eating looked better than the hay he was eating. He set off to chase them away, until he noticed me leaning on the fence looking at him.

“Who do those guys think they are, eating my hay? I’ll teach them to… hey, there’s ShepherdPerson! She might have crunchies!”

The gate between the two small fields is open, he could have walked about 20 feet to the left and gone through the gate to reach me, but the sheep seem to know that pushing their faces through the fence looks sadder and hungrier.

“I’m so sad and hungry and everyone is mean to me, I need crunchies!”

He’s lucky he’s so cute. How can an approximately ten year old former breeding ram who’s such a bully be so cute? Of course he’s not the only cute beggar around, so sneaking Duke a piece of Chex means a half dozen other sad, hungry sheep in desperate need of treats immediately converge on both sides of the fence. Duke knows the futility of trying to chase off a whole group of determined ewes (and also probably wants to stay on their good side) so he gave up on mooching for treats and went back to his mission of chasing the other boys away from the hay.

“We saw you give him a treat! Where’s our treats? We need treats, too!”

“Stop eating my hay! All the hay is mine!”

Liam and Neo cleared out when they saw Duke coming, but Mr Dandelion has never shared a field with his father before and was highly offended by Duke assuming he had the right of way. Duke doesn’t seem to mind sharing a feeder with the youngest set of boys so he probably wasn’t actually trying to chase Danny off, but that didn’t stop Danny from taking offense.

“You can’t tell me what to do! I’m tough! If you hit me I’ll hit you back!”

Danny is Duke’s ninth son on the farm, not counting daughters or grandsons. Duke has had a lot of experience by now with youngsters trying to prove how tough they are. He may not have been able to handle six other boys ganging up on him in the ram flock, but he is not at all impressed by Danny’s posturing. He ignored all of the baby antics and started eating hay.

“Yeah, yeah, kid. Whatever.”

It’s always so funny watching the boys deflate when they’re all ready to fight and then their opponent won’t engage. They know how to handle fight or flight, they’re never sure what to do with being ignored. They get vaguely embarrassed and shuffle away like they hope no one saw. I don’t usually see the same thing happen with ewes, mostly because when a ewe gets mad she tends to go straight to punching without all the formalities of glaring and posturing and giving her opponent the chance to back down like the boys do.

I moved over to the yard to see if there would be any more excitement once I wasn’t standing right behind them, but they settled down pretty quickly. Lady noticed me standing there and came over to try her luck at the staring-mournfully-through-the-fence trick.

“I need extra treats, it’s not easy being queen!”

Duke followed her but I think he was more interested in seeing if she wanted to be his girlfriend than in treats. Lady was definitely only interested in treats.

“Where are my treats? I’m licking my lips, I can’t wait!”

Trying to get close enough to take pictures through the fence without the wires getting in the way is difficult when the subject you’re trying to photograph would rather try to eat the camera than back up a few steps.

“I said, where are my treats??”

I gave Lady her treats and talked to her through the fence about the state of her realm, until the dogs started physically shoving themselves between us, insisting that when I am in their yard it means it’s their turn to get all the attention. Lady wandered off back to the hay feeders with Duke in tow and I had to sit on the cold ground and let dogs trample over my lap and give me their paws and stick their noses in my face until they were mollified.

Thanks to Mira, I’m usually pretty good at holding the camera backwards at arm’s length to take pictures of animals on my lap, but the clearest one I got today was Echo nibbling on my hat while Watcher nibbled on Echo’s ears.

If I’d had a hand free I could have started ruffling Watcher’s ears, and made it a full circle of slightly annoying gestures of affection. As it was I settled for letting them escort me back to the house before my jeans froze to the ground. Next week is supposed to be even colder, and I’m not looking forward to it.

4 thoughts on “New Normal

  1. Duke is SO gorgeous. Love the tongue licking Lady’s lips. The difference bet ‘dueling’ boys and girls is interesting. Then there are the nibblers…….haha

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