Sheep-tastic day at the sanctuary

In the past couple weeks, the sanctuary has received several inches of rain. It only takes a little moisture to inspire the grass to grow. Little shoots have popped up across the sanctuary grounds, transforming the landscape from brown-praririe grass to verdant green. We cannot wait for the grass to get lusher and taller - perfect picture-taking time for chickens!! And by we, I mean me, really.

The sheep were up on the hillside, aptly named Sheep Hill, nibbling away at the new shoots. I tried to get their attention for a face shot, but they all ignored me. I told them they were rude, at which point they all positioned their butts toward me. Thus, the only shots I got of Sheep Hill and the sheep grazing on it are all rear-end or side poses.

Which is fine, I guess. You do get to see the difference in tails with the sheep. Some of the sheep have their tails, while others have been rudely mutilated, their tails lopped off for no other reason than it is more profitable to remove body parts than practice good management and hygiene.

Amazing sheep fact: Sheep shouldn't have long tails. I don't mean we should cut them off, by any means. Just that the domestication process had some unintended (and tragically intended, in the case of wool) consequences. Wild sheep have normal, short tails that protect their rear-end without providing an ideal home for flies to lay their eggs. One side-effect of domestication is that most breeds of sheep have long tails. In breeds, like Merinos, where humans bred for folding skin for more wool, sheep can have problems with flies laying eggs in the folds of their skin and wool. The moist area under the tail can be a prime breeding spot for flies. We haven't had this problem, but we also monitor the sheep on a regular basis.

In any event, back to me and the sheep photography session. It went well, I suppose. There was not much activity from my perspective, although me clamoring up and down the hillside inspired some ire from a couple of the sheep.Here are a few of the shots with random commentary.

Remember, you can click on any of the photos for a LARGER version. 

Gwen, the amazing brown ewe

Gwen is actually part-muppet. She does not like to be told this, which is why she does not like to be touched or talked to or even looked at, really.

Gwen has been here since she was an itty-bitty. She came from a breeder who liked brown Merinos but didn't like caring for abandoned ones.

We hand-raised her, which is to say we bottle-fed her and hugged her and told her how pretty she was. Thus, we scarred her for life, leaving her unwilling to come near us.

When she is in a good mood, she will let us scratch her face. That is it. Mostly, she is not in a good mood. We have learned not to take great offense. After all, we have only ourselves to blame.

Lenny and mom

Lenny's butt is partially blocking his mother's head in the background. Rude kid, I tell you.

Lenny was born at the sanctuary. His mom, Virginia, was rescued from a slaughterhouse. She is a sensitive soul, having spent most of her life neglected and mistreated by humans.

Tragically, she has instilled this sense of disdain for humans into her son, Lenny. He sniffs hands and that's it. No petting, no googly eyes, no hugs. Nada. He'll give you the stink eye if you try anything funny.


Oh Aiden, you are truly the best un-sheep. In all the universe, and all those exo-planets they are discovering.

You can hug Aiden. You can scratch his head and his butt and even fluff the wool on his tail. You can pinch his nose very gently.

Aiden was abandoned by his mother, and I think this indicates a general inability to mother effectively on her part. Or perhaps she knew Aiden was special. He licked walls for a very long time. He still does, just to see if his palate has adjusted to include walls. He does not hang out with the sheep. When he sees us, he yells HAI! COME AND LOVE ME FOREVER!!! Literally, that's what he says. You don't have to believe me for it to be true.

He thinks he is a goat sometimes. The goats laugh at this preposterous notion and chase him off. He likes the pigs who like him back, except in the morning when produce is being fed (pigs don't like anybody then). Really, though, he's pretty much a strange little person with a thick coat and petite legs. I love him so. You do too, trust me. He is a loveable sheep.

Well, those are some of the sheep who call the sanctuary home. Etta, Simon, Sophie and Sam decided against making an appearance on Sheep Hill, due to the fact that apparently a straw-bed was way more cool. Silliness, according to the hill sheep and Aiden (who thinks everything the sheep do is rather silly). I do hope you enjoyed meeting them through the power of the internets.


Jeanne said...

Absolutely love your pictures and commentary. You have a way with letting us know the distinct personalities of each animal and, perhaps, why and where those personalities originated.