Keeping Distance

Duchess has had enough of energetic lambs and has decided to keep her baby holed up (haha) in the tree today. Nova’s boy was a terrible influence and Duchess does not approve at all.

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“As long as he’s inside the tree, he can’t run away from me! It’s genius!”

Fortunately for her, the little guy still thinks the tree is the coziest napping place ever, so he hasn’t protested too much yet.

Angel and Mira have mostly settled on a non-aggression treaty where Angel pointedly gives Mira a wide berth and Mira glares at Angel balefully but doesn’t knock her down.

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“I like playing outside when Mira’s not knocking me down!”

She’s made some tentative attempts to play with Drake, but they’re both still being a little bit shy. So far they seem to be sticking to competitive high-jumping with a nice, safe distance between them.

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“I bet I can hop higher than you!”

That lasted until I made the unforgivable mistake of thinking I could sneak back into the house while she was distracted and get my cell phone without her noticing I was gone. I was informed at deafeningly high volume of all the reasons why that was a Not Acceptable thing for a lamb’s mommy to do. I needed the cell phone so I’d know when it was time for her next bottle, but I’m told that’s no excuse for leaving the baby alone for twenty seconds.

She decided she’d better stick close to me and get her revenge by chewing my feet.

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“Grrr, take that, SneakyMommyFeet, sneaking off without me!”

And head-butting them, because apparently that’s a Splendid Game now.

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“Bad feet! Bad!”

Once she’d worn herself out doing valiant battle with my feet, she sat in my lap for a while.

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“Now she can’t sneak away on me!”

That lasted a grand total of maybe two minutes before Mira decided that Angel sitting in my lap was stretching the non-aggression treaty entirely too far and booted her off so she could sit in my lap instead. Having Mira’s whole weight plop down on your lap where a few seconds ago you had a baby lamb makes quite an impact.

We came back inside not long after that. Angel had her bottle and settled down for a nap, which means I get to relax for a bit, too.

Off to the Races

I have finally captured photographic proof that Duchess’s boy actually does run and play sometimes.

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“I think it’s time to play!”

“I think it’s time for you to lay back down so I can relax.”

It’s a switch to see the baby trying to get Duchess to wake up from a nap instead of the other way round. Duchess is catching his sleepiness. He must have won the argument though, because by the time I got back to the porch he and Drake were running around leading their worried mamas a merry chase.

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“Whee!”

“Stop! Come back!”

My camera’s high speed setting is broken, so all the running pictures came out blurry. I think they’re clear enough to serve as evidence of the little boy’s antics, though.

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“Now let’s go this way!”

“Noooo!”

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“Now the other way again!”

“Come back here this minute!”

The poor mamas. Their naughty little boys don’t listen to them.

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“Now this way again!”

“This is your fault, ShepherdPerson! Somehow, this is your fault!”

Actually, Duchess’s baby is not my fault, given that he was conceived without my approval. I think Duchess is also catching her baby’s grumpiness.

I’m getting very tired of calling Duchess’s baby “Duchess’s baby.” He needs to hurry up and tell me his name. At the moment I’m considering Nod, Griffin, or Cricket, but I’m still not sure what suits him.

Motherhood

Drake refuses to be cooped up in the hole in the tree any longer. He has graduated to climbing trees.

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“I think I can almost reach the leaves!”

I think he’s going to have to grow just a wee bit more.

His newfound independence is well timed, since now it’s Duchess’s turn to hide her lamb in the tree stump.

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“This is the coziest napping place ever!”

It backfired a little bit on poor Duchess, because now once the little guy’s in there he doesn’t want to come out.

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“Come on, I’m hungry, so it’s time for you to get up so I can graze!”

“But I’m still sleeepy! Five more minutes!”

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“Now what do I do?”

“Let me sleep!”

After much yelling on Duchess’s part and some gentle coaxing on my part, the little guy got all his brain cells awake and firing, and consented to follow Duchess out to the yard.

Duchess thought she’d be able to eat then, but first she had to let the baby eat.

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“All that napping made me hungry, Mama!”

“Gee, I wonder what that feels like?”

And then she had to sort out a head-pushing battle between her little one and Drake.

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“I’m the toughest!”

“Nuh-uh, I am!”

And once she finally did get peace to eat, Nova had sneaked away and left her to watch both lambs for a while. Apparently the ultra-paranoid phase has passed for Nova, now we’re down to just moderately high paranoia.

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“This is my new best friend, Mama!”

“Joy.”

I don’t think motherhood is as much fun as Duchess was expecting.

Play Date

I locked Duchess and her baby (who is being really stubborn about the naming thing, I can’t figure out what his name is) out of the barn yesterday after the fourth time I had to walk out and “rescue” the lamb to get Duchess to stop screaming. He kept falling asleep behind a bucket and Duchess would go crazy trying to find him. I don’t know why she couldn’t figure out where he was, he was always behind the same bucket, even when I moved the bucket. I also don’t know why he wouldn’t wake up and respond when she was yelling for him, but he does seem to be a very sound sleeper.

He was a bit upset about not having access to his napping bucket anymore, but he found a nice cozy rock to snuggle up with instead. The little guy loves his naps. Maybe I should call him Rip Van Winkle.

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“Ahh, what a nice rock!”

His face still looks grumpy because he has slightly darker markings over his eyes that look like angry eyebrows, but now that he’s awake slightly more, his personality doesn’t seem as grumpy.

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“Why would I be grumpy when I have this cozy pillow-rock?”

I think I would be more grumpy if I had to use a rock as a pillow, but whatever floats his tiny little boat is ok with me as long as Duchess can keep track of him.

This morning he and Duchess both seemed a little stir-crazy, so I let them out with the other sheep. Drake was highly curious about his new cousin.

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“Hi, I’m Drake! What’s your name?”

“I don’t have one yet.”

Duchess looks like she has a bad feeling about this budding friendship.

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“I want this tiny stick!”

“Noo, it’s mine!”

Some mostly-friendly head-pushing over a stick had Nova’s head snapping up in alarm as her overprotective instincts kicked in. Cue squabbling mamas and a temporary lamb mix-up.

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“Waitaminute, something isn’t right here!”

I don’t know how you could mix up a big red lamb and a tiny gray lamb, but they did. Cue another round of squabbling mamas and mildly upset lambs. Finally, they got it all worked out and headed off to join the other sheep.

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“Ok, this one’s mine and that one’s yours. Nina, you don’t have one, quit trying to take everybody’s lambs!”

Nina’s really, really impatient to start playing with the new babies. Right now Duchess’s boy is still figuring out how to hop, and Drake (in between challenging people ten times his size to duels) is mostly climbing on everything he can find, usually his longsuffering mama.

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“Hey, now that I think about it, you wouldn’t be interested in trading back, would you?”

Little Drake is his mother made over. I have (old, low res) video evidence of baby Nova to prove this point.

I’m hoping Angel expresses some interest in playing with the other lambs soon, she’s getting too rambunctious for the house and I always run out of energy for playing long before she does.

Anger Management

With all the business and drama of lambing season, I think the poor dogs are convinced we’ve forgotten them entirely. They’ve taken to waiting by the back door to ambush me on my way out and demand attention.

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“We’ve been replaced by a lamb. A lamb, Watcher!

“I know. Lambing season is the worst.”

It’s Echo’s first lambing season, and his first experience of sharing the house with a bottle baby, so he doesn’t know it’s only temporary. I do try to make sure they both get petted and played with every day, even with everything else going on.

Duchess, Mr McGrumpyFace, and Mr McGrumpyFace’s angry eyebrows (who deserve their own mention) all got to come out of the barn today, though they didn’t get to rejoin the flock yet.

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“Baah, there’s even more sunlight out here! And I was just getting the hang of walking in our stall, but now there’s all this grass to trip me up!”

If that lamb’s not careful, his face is going to get stuck that way and he’ll be named Mr McGrumpyFace forever.

Speaking of grumpiness, Mira’s fleece is completely loosened but hasn’t fallen off yet, and it’s itching her to distraction. She keeps rubbing against everything, or just collapsing to the ground dramatically and writhing trying to get it off.

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“I am going to die of itchiness!”

That looks a lot like Cousin Itt, but it is actually Mira having a misery-despair-frustration-slump. The moping is intense.

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“It’s sooo itchy!”

“Hey, ShepherdPerson! Mira needs help getting her old wool off!”

I would be very happy to pull the loose wool off, but every time I touch it she goes into very intense tantrum (or possibly a rage-induced seizure, it’s kind of hard to tell) so I have to sneak up on her, pull a handful off, and then dodge the angry flailing until she calms down.

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“No, I do NOT need help, I Can Do It All By Myself!”

“Yeesh, ok! Don’t take it out on me!”

I used to wonder why parents of small children always groaned at the phrase “I can do it by myself.” I don’t wonder anymore.

Angel, Daughter of Mira, has started gleefully practicing her head-butting skills on everyone’s shins. Joy. The practice will probably come in handy when she starts playing with Drake the tiny gladiator, though.

Why are my sheep like this?

 

 

May Queen

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“What is this thing you’ve put around my neck?”

Obligatory baby-wearing-mom’s-baby-clothes pictures. Although I think it should be noted that Mira was almost two months older than Angel when she was the May Queen but she wasn’t all that much bigger. Sometimes I forget just how tiny Mira was.

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“These flowers don’t even taste good!”

Angel has started nibbling on grass, which is a very good development. She especially likes flowers, although they’re so big compared to her mouth they’re difficult for her to chew.

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“I’m the prettiest girl!”

She’s a very pretty lamb, though her dark coloring makes her hard to photograph without her looking like a flat silhouette. I’ve noticed in the last few days that she has tiny little lumps under the skin on her head, so I think she might end up with horns!

Out in the barn, Duchess’s little one continues to be the grumpiest-looking lamb I have ever seen. I think it’s just his resting face, but if he’s actually as grumpy as he looks, he and Barney will end up being partners in grumpiness.

“You interrupted my nap again!”

His face is hysterically funny to me. Such a scrunched-up, angry little face.

“Sunshine is overrated, close those doors back!”

Duchess is, if possible, more neurotic than Nova, but unfortunately she seems to be more worried about herself than her lamb. I think I’m going to give them extra time in the jug, it’d be just like her to take off for the hills and leave Grumpy McGrumpyFace (not his permanent name, I haven’t thought up a real name yet) behind.

…Normally it’s easy for me to read what the sheep are thinking and translate that into photo captions, but I’m pretty sure all that’s going through Duchess’s head here is terrified static. She won’t let the baby nurse when I’m out there, but he’s obviously not hungry so I’m assuming she’s just too freaked out to let him nurse with me around.

I’m leaving them alone as much as possible for now, hoping she’ll eventually calm down.

That’s a Wrap

Duchess had her baby last night, a teensy tiny ram. I didn’t see him nurse, but he wasn’t crying and she wasn’t butting him, so I assume she’s feeding him.

Angel came into the world screaming for somebody to feed her, Drake came into the world ready to set out on a path to conquest (he picked a fight with Holly yesterday. Oh boy.), but this baby just looks like a grumpy little kid with bedhead who really needs a nap.

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“Who opened the barn doors and let all this terrible light in when I’m trying to sleep?”

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“Seriously, I need my beauty sleep!”

I didn’t stay out with them very long, Duchess was pretty freaked out by me being there and I didn’t want to stress her out.

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“You took my last baby, don’t you take this one!”

“Mamaaaa, I wanna nap…”

She has milk this time (I assume) and it’s seventy something degrees outside, so I don’t need to take this one, thank goodness.

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“Are you ok, Baby?”

“I’m sleeeepy, mama…”

I left them to their napping and headed out of the barn, to discover that Lady had squeezed out the gate into the farm lane, I assume because she’s mad she didn’t have a baby this year and is trying to punish me by making my life difficult. I think (about 50% sure) she did cycle last week, so at least she’s probably not having a September lamb after all.

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“Hey, wait for us!”

Holly quickly figured out how to squeeze between the two gates, but fortunately Mira didn’t. So my pre-breakfast morning routine finished up with chasing Lady and Holly back into the field without letting anyone else escape.

Hopefully Duchess’s boy stays sleepy and doesn’t turn into a troublemaker like the rest of his flockmates.

You Try To Do Something Nice…

Duchess started acting like she might be in labor earlier, so I shooed everyone else into the yard and closed the gate so she could have the small pen to herself. I hardly made it back to the house before I heard Nova and Mira yelling at the top of their very impressive lungs and had to run back out to see what on earth the problem was.

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“My baby! Oh no!”

I did not shut Drake in there by mistake. I triple-checked he was with Nova before I shut the gate. He must have wiggled through or under the fence. He’s less than a week old, he shouldn’t be pulling this kind of escape artistry yet!

I ended up having to just open the gate again. Duchess seemed happier with everyone gone, but all the screaming was making her upset. It was making me upset, too; Nova and Mira are loud.

Nova lost no time shuffling her baby back to the hidey-hole in the tree stump.

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“Hurry, get back in there before something else happens!”

And apparently all the yelling on Mira’s part was because with the gate shut she couldn’t get to the chunk of wood that is currently her favorite toy, because Mira’s priorities are amazing like that. Mira is my favorite sheep (shhh!), but I must admit she’s sometimes a bit confusing. Not that that makes her at all unusual around here.

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“Kill the stick!”

She’s starting to look ragged, I need to roo her. All the Soays are starting to shed off for the year.

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“I think it’s time for a nap now.”

Nova at least got to (somewhat) relax, with Drake safely tucked away and snoozing in his tree-cave.

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“Zzz…”

Drake’s a fearless little guy, but getting separated from his mama even for a few minutes is very stressful at his age, so he was ready for a nap.

And after all that fuss, Duchess decided she wasn’t quite ready to lamb after all, so the whole mess was for nothing. Sigh. Mira comes by her tendency towards confusing behavior honestly.

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“It would have been too simple to lamb now! I have to be super-sneaky and wait until the most inconvenient moment!”

Normally I don’t pay much attention to ewes insisting they’re about to lamb, but Duchess historically has never given me much warning before she lambs, so if she’s acting like she’s ready I tend to believe her. She’s still drifting around looking more distracted than usual, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she lambs in the next 24 hours or so.

Drake

Nova’s little boy is named Drake. For the type of dragon, not for a male duck. Someday I’m going to look up how those two creatures ended up with the same name, but I haven’t gotten curious enough yet to bother.

I basically shoved Nova out of the barn yesterday, since she showed every indication that she planned to hide in there with her baby forever. I told her her baby needed fresh air and sunshine, and to meet other the other sheep.

She got the better of me, though. Poor Drake is spending an inordinate amount of time stuffed into a hollow tree stump, and it doesn’t look like Nova plans to let him out for any length of time anytime soon.

Herbivores are generally classified as “hiders” or “followers”, based on if they hide their babies like deer or keep them close all the time like horses. Sheep are supposed to be followers, but Nova didn’t read the manual and seems to be a pretty dedicated hider.

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“I’m coming out now! Look out, world!”

Drake wasn’t a bit scared of the other sheep; I’m pretty sure he’s ready to take on the world.

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“Oh no you’re not! Get back in that tree before a lamb-snatcher sees you!”

Nova hasn’t lost a baby yet, I have no idea why she’s so paranoid.

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“Never mind, world. Mama says I’m not coming out now.”

Smart boy isn’t arguing with his mother. Much. Yet. Taking on the world is one thing, taking on Nova is something else.

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“Lamb? What lamb? There no lamb here, nothing to see at all!”

Hopefully she’ll let him out before he grows too big and gets stuck in there.

Rivals

Good news: Mira is no longer running for her life every time she sees Angel.

Bad news: She is now determined to keep Angel from encroaching on her territory, namely me. She keeps charging her every time it looks like Angel is heading for me. Fortunately I think Angel thinks it’s a vaguely scary game.

Other bad news: Mira is for some reason also determined to drag all of the rocks out of our landscaping. I found several rocks at least six feet from their original location.

“I don’t like where this rock is, I’m going to move it!”

“Also all these little rocks, I’ve got to move them, too!”

“Yay, rocks! Rocks are fun to play in!”

Sigh. Only two weeks old and already being corrupted.

“Excuse me, I’m trying to do a very important job here, and I’m never going to get it done if I have to keep stopping to run that little interloper away from you!”

Sigh. So much drama. No wonder Nova refuses to bring her baby out of the barn.