Malingering

Liam did in fact manage to get the twine off his foot by himself with no harm done, so that was a relief. He and Lana have almost forgiven me for following them all over the field that day.

Mira’s face is healing up pretty well, though I’m still not sure what the injury was in the first place. She’s reached new heights of spoiled-ness from me doting on her while she didn’t feel good, and I have a feeling she’s not going to accept going back to a normal level of spoiled.

She caught me trying to pet Angel through the fence while I was walking the dogs, and she had to come flying all the way across the field to put a stop to that outrage.

“Mommy Mommy Mommy!”

“Don’t pet her! Wait for me! I’m coming!”

“I have a boo-boo! You’re only supposed to pet ME!”

Obviously she is still a fragile little flower who desperately needs coddling. It’s sometimes hard to tell when I need to actually worry about her, because she actually does get sick when she’s very upset, but she’s also clever enough to act like she’s sick every time she wants extra attention. In this case I’m pretty sure she’s fine now and just milking it, but I had to pet her and coo over her for several minutes before she stopped being upset anyway.

Then Echo got upset because I’d already played with the sheep that morning and it was HIS turn now. He collapsed dramatically across my lap where I was sitting by the fence, weakly batting at me with his paw until I petted and cooed over him, too.

Somebody needs to tell these animals that there are other ways of getting my attention besides melodramatic languishing.

Advertisements

Slow Speed Chase

Liam got a piece of baling twine stuck to his foot this morning. It was just stuck between his toes, not wrapped around his foot, but I thought it’d still be better if I got it off of him. Unfortunately he thought maybe I was going to do something unpleasant to him and wouldn’t let me catch him.

When a Soay is avoiding being caught, it involves manic bursts of speed, sudden changes in direction, and occasional wild-eyed attempts to turn and fight off their pursuers. Chasing Liam, on the other hand, involves him shooting me mildly reproachful looks over his shoulder as he shuffles away at exactly the speed necessary to stay out of reach and not a bit faster.

Both ways are equally effective. Liam may be sedate, especially compared to the Soays, but even a sedate sheep is faster than a ShepherdPerson. Faster than this ShepherdPerson, anyway.

Of course, if possible he’d rather hide behind his flockmates and avoid even that much exertion. I wish I could have gotten pictures with my real camera, but it’s stopped working almost completely. So instead I’m stuck with grainy cell phone photos that I can’t crop or edit unless I feel like adding instagram filters.

“Nothing to see here, nope, these are not the sheep you’re looking for…”

Hiding behind flockmates doesn’t work so well when you’re both glowingly white and bigger than they are, so he gave up on hiding and off he shuffled. I was hoping to walk up to him instead of running him down, so he stayed ahead of me without even having to break into a trot.

imag4812a“Is she still after us?”

Lana stuck with her beloved Liam, even in face of relentless pursuit. Or maybe she thought I was after her, too. She’s a good sheep, but she’s still not sure if she trusts me.

imag4817a

“Let’s lose her in the tunnel!”

imag4818a

“Oh no, she found us again!”

Liam is not a genius about evasive strategies, probably because he doesn’t get chased very often, by me or by other sheep, so he doesn’t get much practice.

The rest of the flock suddenly noticed I’d wandered off with Lana and Liam, and decided to chase us down in case I was sneaking them extra crunchies or something.

“Wait for us!”

These are the moments when I think of old westerns, when the cowhand extra is about to get trampled by the herd of running cows.

“Stampede!”

Fortunately I don’t usually get knocked down and trampled, just climbed on and thoroughly pawed at and searched. Once they’d nosed through all my pockets and figured out I didn’t have any crunchies, I was boring again and they all wandered off to graze.

“Crunchies?”

Nina stuck around to “play chase” with us, but evidently didn’t quite understand the game, because she kept turning around and coming back to ask if I was sure I didn’t have any crunchies.

Eventually I got tired and Liam and Lana were starting to get upset, so I gave up and came in the house for breakfast. I’ll try again in a bit, but more than likely he’ll have managed to get the twine off his foot himself by the time I go back out.

 

 

 

 

 

Boo-Boos

Mira has a swollen lump on her lower lip. I’m pretty sure it’s either an abscess or a bee sting, or possibly an abscessed bee sting. Whatever it is, it’s obviously painful, and the only thing to do with a painful boo-boo like that is to droop dramatically around her Mommy so I can pat her on the head and make crooning, sympathetic noises about her poor ouchie face.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Mommyyy, my face is owie, I need at lot of petting…”

Poor, poor baby. Of course, then Mira’s Bitter Rival showed up and said she needed some fussing over, too.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Hey, what about me?!”

To which Mira responded by drooping even more miserably, so that I had to crouch down to satisfactorily continue to pat her on the head and make crooning noises.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“It hurts so baaad, you need to pet only me and not Angel because I’m saaad…”

And Angel rested her little chin on my knee and broke out the great big pleading eyes. She’s not as cuddly as Mira, she wanted treats instead of petting.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Do you have any crunchies?”

My knees got tired of crouching before Mira got tired of being petted, so before I knew it I was sitting on the ground, with the two of them trying to make sad faces at me and glare at each other across my lap at the same time, with indifferent success.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I am sad, and injured, and you need to make her go away!”

Then I made the fatal error of giving Angel a crunchy treat to distract her from chewing on my arm, thinking Mira wouldn’t mind since she’d already refused to eat crunchies twice by this point.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Yummy!”

But of course that was the final straw. Giving Angel the crunchies Mira didn’t want was completely intolerable.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“AAAHH!”

Apparently there’s a rule that under circumstances like these, you’re allowed to jump up out of your metaphorical sick bed and chase your Bitter Rival away without compromising your invalid status. I did not know this, but Mira says it’s true.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“She hit my head with her tail, Mommy! I need much comforting!”

Poor, sad, little Mira. I hope she feels better soon.

Well That’s A New One

I went to let the sheep out yesterday morning, and there were only three Dukelings at the fence to greet me. If Chestnut had been the missing one I wouldn’t have been too worried, (Chestnut is a sound sleeper and sometimes doesn’t wake up when everyone else gets up and leaves him), but it was Cedar and Cedar doesn’t usually wander off alone, so my brain automatically started screaming “Oh no, he’s hurt/sick/escaped and run off to conquer the world!”

I walked all over looking for him and couldn’t find him anywhere, but there was some sort of great commotion going on in the barn, so I decided to put the search on hold while I let the girls out.

And I found Cedar. In the barn, in one of the stalls with the girls. I have no idea how he ended up in there, and I have a strong suspicion he wasn’t sure how he ended up in there, but he was Not Happy about it. The commotion I’d been hearing was him bawling his head off because he’d never been more than a few steps away from Chestnut before in his entire life and he did not like it at all and wanted his brother back right that minute.

I got him back out with his brother and the other boys, much to his relief. Neo also slipped out, then immediately decided he’d made a Big Mistake when he was instantly attacked by every guy in the field wanting to hash out his place in the pecking order. In the process of rescuing poor hapless Neo, somehow I ended up with the boys all in the large front field. I was tired of sheep-chasing by that point, so I just shut the gate on them and let the girls have the small front fields and the back field for the day.

And of course I didn’t have a camera or even my cell phone to document any of this chaos. By the time I got back to the house and got the camera, Cedar had migrated to the front fence and was cramming his head under the wire to eat the yard grass (a totally necessary measure, what with him only having a whole field of grass to eat on his own side) under the watchful eye of Daddy Duke, while Chestnut and Prince Bran ate bark off of the nearby tree (also totally necessary, I’m sure).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Remember, son, the grass is always greener on the other side!”

And the equally watchful, but much less approving, eye of Watcher.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“No no no! Get back! Stop!”

Watcher always has a minor existential crisis when I switch around who’s in what field, because the Sheep Are In The Wrong Place and it’s Bad, but having one eating the grass under the fence was just the last straw.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Do you SEE what they’re DOING?!”

He was disgusted that I decided to stay on the porch and take pictures instead of fixing everything back the way it was. Watcher firmly disapproves of things not being the way they should be.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I’m staying on the porch, too! It’s wet out there!”

Echo started to go help Watcher, but stepped in the rain puddle on the edge of the porch and changed his mind. Echo is firmly against getting his paws wet.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Break time!”

Evidently satisfied that the required level of chaos was being maintained by the boys and Watcher, the girls decided to leave off their hormone-fueled dueling for the moment and settle down to play happy family for a while.

I decided that Watcher and Apple could probably resolve their differences on their own, left them to it and went inside for breakfast.

Hard Feelings

It must be fall, because the horrible hormones are starting to disrupt the peace (such as it is) around here. Yesterday afternoon, for no apparent reason, Mira and Lady decided that they absolutely loathe each other and cannot inhabit the same pasture peacefully. They were fighting so intently they weren’t even interested in their bedtime crunchies. Didn’t even flick an ear in the direction of the rustling bag.

I did finally lure them into the barn by shoving crunchies right under their noses to get their attention. This had to be repeated every few feet when they would stop following me and start squabbling again.

I put them in separate stalls and hoped they’d forget their feud overnight. No such luck. They went right back at it the minute I let them out this morning.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Back off!”

“No, YOU back off!”

Most of the flock retreated to the far end of the pasture, which is the sensible thing to do when two ewes are fighting.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Oooh, pumpkin! Yummy!”

Liam found a piece of pumpkin, and risked sticking around to munch on that. Liam can afford to risk hanging around the battleground, since he doesn’t really have many vulnerable points.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Charge!”

Lady and Mira were too fixated on trying to bludgeon each other to death to worry about Liam, anyway. Usually ewes butt heads from close range, but these two were doing the whole foreheads-at-ten-paces, running-start-full-speed-collision type of fighting, like rams usually do. Whatever they were fighting about, they were mad.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I don’t want to watch!”

Poor Neo also stuck around, mostly hovering and hoping if he closed his eyes it’d go away. He was very distressed that Mira wasn’t being nice to his mama, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to join in. Neo’s a lover, not a fighter.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I can do this all day!”

Eventually I had to separate the combatants into different pens, because Drake and Griffin got really excited about the fight and decided to join in on Mira’s side. I think maybe they thought if they helped her beat up Lady she’d agree to be their girlfriend. Whatever the reason, poor Lady was getting pummeled and couldn’t really handle three to one odds, even with Neo hovering around fruitlessly trying to shoo the little boys away without actually hitting them. I shut her and Neo into the small pens and locked everyone else out in the front field.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“You broke up the best fight we’ve had in ages!”

Drake was indignant enough at having his fun spoiled that I actually got a clear picture of his face! He and Griffin didn’t pout very long before they decided to burn off their energy fighting each other, instead. I don’t mind that, they’re about equal in size and they’re just roughhousing. I only try to break it up when a big sheep starts beating up a little one, or when multiple sheep gang up on one target.

It didn’t take long for Duchess to barge in and start scolding them into behaving, anyway. Griffin may be the first lamb she’s raised, but Duchess is a very experienced lamb-wrangler from playing auntie for all those years. Which is fortunate, since Nova has a very laissez faire attitude towards parenting at this stage, and Angel’s various human parental units aren’t outside as much as she thinks they should be.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“All of you lambs behave!”

Mira, in the background, is still making mean faces at Lady through the fence. I always think of Mira as my delicate, 2.4 pound lamb; it’s a bit disconcerting when she does something that reminds me she’s now the biggest of the Soay ewes, by a slight but definite margin.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“What are you doing over there? Come over here and fight me!”

That picture looks almost friendly without the hoof stomping and head tossing that happened in the few seconds before and after. I don’t know what’s gotten into those two, but I hope it wears off soon. Family feuds are exhausting.

A Study in Faces

The Evil Cow Spies are lurking in the woods next door again spending their time staring our way, much to Watcher’s consternation. I’m not sure what Watcher thinks the cows are going to do with all their surveillance, but he’s not going to stand for it, whatever it is.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Moo?”

My personal theory is that being a cow is probably very boring, and watching what my little sheep get up to is probably the most interesting option available.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Do you have any crunchies?”

Frankly, I think these guys are more suspicious-looking than the cows, but Watcher knows best I’m sure.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“They’re shady, all right!”

Except maybe this one. Barney looks pretty trustworthy, if a bit soggy at the moment.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“It’s about time we got breakfast, I almost starved to death!”

That face looks pretty honest, too. Although I don’t think he’s remotely as close to starving as he thinks. I’m sure it’s an honest misunderstanding.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“My boyfriend Liam says you’re ok, but I’m keeping an eye on you!”

Lana has a good, respectable-looking face. She’s not any too sure about how trustworthy I am, but that’s whole other issue. I am a bit suspicious about why that hay rack is hanging sideways, but I’m sure Lana had nothing to do with it.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Nooo, no taking pictures of my face!”

I thought I might get a good shot of Drake’s ever-elusive face while he was distracted chewing on that fallen gate (I’m also suspicious about how that gate fell down, but nevermind) but he ducked his head down at the last minute.

Before I could focus the camera again, I made the mistake of looking in the same direction for more than a few seconds, and my field of view was instantly filled with less shy faces clamoring for treats my attention. Drake managed to shuffle off and hide behind all the others in the crowd.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Crunchies!!”

Little Grumpy Griffin still has his adorable grumpy face, but overall I suppose they look like a harmless bunch.

Of course, appearances can be deceiving.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Moo.”

I’m sure those cow could tell some tales, if Watcher’s right about them being blackmailing Evil Cow Spies. Maybe he’s right to keep an eye on them.

Business as Usual

The Dukelings are all healed up and back in with the big boys again. Duke is very happy to have his entourage of Dukelings back.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“All together again!”

Well, he has the Dukelings plus Johnny tagging along after him. Johnny is Duke’s grandson, so I guess he counts as an honorary Dukeling.

Angel continues to be an adorable little mooch with improbably big eyes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Crunchies, please?”

She’s going to be just as beautiful as her grandmother when she grows up.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Nuh-uh, I am the fairest of them all!”

Poor girl’s looking a bit boney from feeding Griffin all summer, but she’s still beautiful.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“ShepherdPerson’s taking pictures! Quick, Drake, hide your face!”

Drake continues to find ways to hide his face, even in the middle of an open field. Silly boy.

The one new development I’m glad to report is that a) Angel has gotten big enough or brave enough to hit Mira back, and b) Mira and Angel now take occasional breaks from hitting each other to graze together.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Time out for breakfast, then we can go back to fighting!”

I’m 90% sure they’re grazing next to each other as some weird kind of competitiveness, but it’s nice to see anyway.

Road to Forgiveness

Apple has forgiven me enough to resume his usual habit of licking my jeans, much to my relief. I’m adding the fact that I was relieved to have him licking my jeans again to my collection of evidence that sheep have mind-control powers. “I was brainwashed by my sheep” should be a valid explanation for strange behavior in ShepherdPeople.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Yum, denim!”

My jeans are his favorite, but he also likes to lick his brother’s face and the cement pad under the barn walls, among many other things. If you try to shoo him off with a stick, he will completely ignore your attempts at shooing and start trying to lick the stick. I love Apple, but he is a very weird sheep. Fortunately he is both very cute and Princess’ grandson, both factors which make me tolerate his nonsense with much less complaining than I would otherwise.

Drake is also Princess’ grandson, but I am starting to get very annoyed by his obsessive avoidance of my camera. I’ve had animals that love to pose, and animals that love to photobomb pictures of anyone else (*cough-Mira-cough*) but I’ve never had a consciously camera-shy animal before.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Aah! A camera! Hide me!”

That was going to be a lovely shot of his face looking at me over Griffin’s back, but he jerked his head down right as I pushed the shutter button. It would have been a nice shot of Liam, if I’d managed to get his whole face in the frame. Oh well, animal photography is frequently disappointing.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I’m going to be king of this hill!”

By sneaking up from behind, I did manage to catch Drake getting up to mischief under the careful tutelage of Mira and Apple, hoop house climbers extraordinaire. Also Nina, who as far as I know has never climbed a hoop house, but seemed intrigued by the whole idea.

Then something off to the side startled the sheep and they all spooked away, leaving Drake briefly with no one to hide behind, and I managed to snap a picture before Drake could turn his head away.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Aw man, she caught me!”

Not a particularly good picture, but I felt a great sense of triumph for getting his face in a picture at all. His unerring ability to turn away or get behind someone else just in time to avoid being photographed is also going in the “sheep are telepaths” file.

Once I’d gotten the elusive picture of Drake, I decided to head back into the house. My jeans were starting to get rather damp.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

*Lick-lick-lick*

The other three Dukelings have been mostly hanging around the fence by Duke, wanting back out with the rest of the big boys. They’re pretty much recovered, so they’ll be getting their way soon. Duke, the Dukelings (except maybe Apple), and my jeans will probably be very happy about that.

Unforgiven

I am still getting glared at from all directions. My crimes are great. They may never ever forgive me for at least for another week.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I’m keeping an eye on you!”

You do that, Chestnut. I’m not planning anything else dastardly for the near future.

Even Apple hasn’t been obsessively chewing on me. That’s a pretty big grudge, for Apple.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Me and my brother are mad at you, ShepherdPerson!”

The Dukelings are feeling better except for being grumpy. They’re still walking funny, but they’re walking funny at almost normal speed. The baby boys are still taking it slow, though. Nova keeps walking all the way to the trees then realizing she left Drake behind.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Hey, where’d my baby go?”

The three lambs are sticking close together. I don’t know why Angel would be hanging out with the boys, unless it’s just sympathy.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I’m hiding behind Angel so ScaryShepherdPerson doesn’t grab me!”

Drake’s ability to avoid being photographed is approaching the ridiculous. Eventually I’m going to lose my patience and chase him all over the field with the camera until I get a clear shot.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Where are my Dukelings? I want my Dukelings back!”

Don’t worry Duke, you’ll get your little minions back, just as soon as they stop walking funny.

No Good, Very Bad Day

The boys, both the two rams from this year and the four Dukelings, finally had their long-delayed appointment with the vet. I think my vet and her assistant are going to need a chiropractor after wethering six tiny guys in one day. I know I could use one.

Mira and Angel refused to go out in the field with everyone else, so we had to work with Mira playing supervisor and “helping” by sticking her nose in everything, and Angel running around yelling at all of us for not paying attention to her. Bottle babies are always so underfoot. It’s a good thing they’re so lovable.

I cleaned up the area where the vet worked pretty well according to me, but according to the sheep it’s a blood-drenched crime scene to be avoided at all costs. Possibly including white chalk outlines. They all scooted out of the barn single file this morning walking as close to the edge of the aisle as possible and staring at the “crime scene” suspiciously.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Something very bad happened right there, we can sense it!”

The boys stayed in the lane for 24 hours after they were wethered, but today I let them out with the girls until they recover. They don’t need to have to keep up with Duke and the big wethers in their current… compromised state.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Mama!”

Although apparently Griffin at least wasn’t too compromised for important things like nursing. Griffin and Drake are both old enough to wean, but the boys and their mothers have both made it clear that no one asked me for my opinion on the proper weaning of lambs. Since there’s now no chance of the boys causing any unplanned pregnancies, I guess there’s no harm in letting them sort it out at their own pace.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Mira, will you be my girlfriend?”

All the Dukelings plus Griffin immediately started trying to flirt with Mira, which. Well. You have to give them points for resilience, if nothing else, to be thinking about flirting again that soon after such a Very Bad Day. She wasn’t in heat, so she ran off pretty quickly and they weren’t quite up to chasing after her.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Daaad, it was terrible!”

Duke misses his Dukelings, and I think they miss him, too. He was at the fence looking for them, and they all made a wobbly, toddling beeline for the fence to complain to him while everyone else headed for the trees at the far end of the field.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Don’t walk so fast, Mama!”

Some sheep made faster progress towards the trees than others.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“You are the worst ShepherdPerson EVER!”

Grumpy Griffin and his angry little face. In this case I think he has complete justification for grumpiness. He has no way of knowing his choices were to be wethered or to be exiled to the ram pen.

Drake was even grumpier, and Nova was keeping him hidden behind her while glaring at me accusingly. I couldn’t get a picture of anything except his tail today.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Don’t you try to touch any of MY babies!”

Lady was also trying to keep all of her children close, even though all three of them are big and grown up now. She really didn’t need to worry anyway, since Holly is a ewe and Neo and Will already had their Very Bad Days. Fortunately none of the boys this year were as dramatic as Will Scarlet was. Nobody is as dramatic as Will Scarlet.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I have been faithfully waiting here all these years for you to come back…”

No one except sad Echo whose ears went unpetted for far too long while I was up at the barn. Fortunately, neglected ears are an easy problem to fix.

Getting back into the boys’ good graces is going to be a harder task. I think I’d better stock up on crunchies.