Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Four Little Piggies
...Piggy Sheep that is. Normally I don't show backside sheep photos, because, for the most part they aren't very attractive. Especially if said sheep have been lounging around in the mud and muck.
I had to show my four little piggy sheep and their morning routine though. Gracie is on the right side. Gracie is one of my very first sheep and is seven years old. She is a smallish old style Dorset and as sweet as can be. The large monster just to her left is her very first lamb, daughter Annalee. Annalee is half Merino and her sire is the ill tempered Blue. Annalee is a very sweet sheep but not overly friendly. She is content to just hang around. She also has a 'weight issue'. Last winter she got so fat on hay, that I feared she would just keel over. She did reduce (although I cannot truthfully say, slimmed down) some over the summer. Next left is Nancy. She is also a Gracie/Blue daughter and is no slim pickens herself, but seems to carry her weight a little better. Nancy is friendly, but not in Gracie's class of friendly. Nancy is more friendly if there is something edible involved. Lastly on the left, is Gracie's last lamb/daughter, Hope. She is also sired by Blue. Gracie and Hope nearly died while Gracie was birthing Hope. I don't know what to say about Hope. She looks like she is ready to lamb at any moment, but isn't even bred! My, my. Hope is very much a sweetheart like her mom, but maybe a little on the slow side (just between us), which just adds to her sweetness. Because I have too many sheep and want to concentrate more on the Shetlands, all these girls were left open this year (I hope).
Every morning, I feed the Shetland girls first. They have their own special feeding area which has a lower creep gate that the big sheep can't usually go through. Gracie escorts me in the main gate, looking for a chance to get her nose in the bucket, despite my threats. As I feed the Shetland girls, Gracie keeps up a steady, baaing, at three second intervals. Gracie, Hope and Nancy all mill around the entrance to the creep gate. However, Annalee prefers to go straight from the hay bale to the barn and wait for me to come up there and feed them. (I don't understand why she has a weight problem). Once I come out of the Shetland area, Gracie and Hope trot off to the barn as hard as they can (Gracie still baaing) to join Annalee. Nancy is left as the designated herding sheep. She gets behind me and makes sure that I keep moving in the direction of the barn. It is pretty amusing. Once I get within about four foot of the barn, and shut Rocky (the wether) into his stall, she peels off around me and runs up to the feed trough with the other girls.
I do grain everyone in the morning, but we are talking minuscule amounts for these girls (just ask them!). Sometimes they can't believe how minuscule and give me incredulous looks. Here again we have a routine. They always line up like this. I will allow a little bit of variation between the three daughters, but they aren't allowed to jostle Gracie out of position. They are the ones that get flustered if the three aren't in their proper place. There is a big salt block between Gracie's section of trough and the others. This helps her keep the rest out of her space. Two little splishes of grain across the trough for the girls, one on the ledge for Hope, a nicer amount for Gracie (since she is older) and another three or four grains each for Annalee and Nancy, tossed in from behind. I have no idea why Hope eats this way, but she prefers her grain up on the ledge and surfs it until I throw some up there.
These girls are very trainable, and as long as I'm around will nicely eat where they are suppose to. Once in a while I have to tap a behind with my foot and issue a stern warning, by name, and then they will behave.
So these are my 'big white sheep'. I also have Blue, the merino ram, Rocky the crossbred wether, and Lanny the crossbred wether who stays with Blue (both Merino/Dorset crosses), so altogether I still have seven big white sheep. Their temperaments vary as much as the Shetlands, but as a whole they are fairly calm and react slower than the Shetlands. Sometimes they get accidentally involved in the Shetland's wild antics and it's quite funny to see.