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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Am Shetland...

I took this series of pictures back in the summer, but never got around to posting them. If you've ever been around Shetland's you might know of their propensity to be 'dog aggressive', among other things (like nosey). I have at least three ewes who'd like to stomp a dog to pieces if they could--of course when the dog is bigger than themselves, you'd think it would give them pause. When they have lambs this just intensifies their aggression. I've never had any of my ewes be aggressive towards myself-beyond a foot stomp or two. Any behavior modification lessons that I might need, are done by inserting their bodies --gently--between myself and their lambs.

In deference to their sensitivity during lambing season, I keep the dogs away from the newest mothers for a week or so. The dogs are never allowed in the pasture with them, but can run about the adjoining fence line when I'm out and about. Usually there is inquisitive sniffs by all involved, but Boone often likes to take it a step farther when he thinks I'm not paying attention. He acts innocent, but trust me he isn't--the body language says it all.

When I first got sheep, I had two collies--Jody and Ariel. Jody loved the sheep and wanted to live in the barn with them. She wanted to lay beside them and love them always. Mind you though these were sweet sheep--gentle Dorset ewe lambs. Jody and Ariel helped me do all the chores--out in the pen with the sheep. No worries. Fast forward a couple of years and the Shetland's particular...Rouen. Rouen hates dogs and would have them for breakfast if she could. Poor Jody the good didn't stand a chance---and it happened before I could react. I mean who thought a midget sheep would attack a dog? But she did. Bowled Jody over good and hurt her feelings forever. For the safety of the dogs they could no longer go in with the sheep. However at lambing time, I would always arrange it when the flock was out to pasture, to let the collie girls in to see the new Dorset lambs. They looked forward to this immensely and would happily check out the new arrivals. After all....10 pound lambs aren't dangerous.

So back to the day I took these pictures...principle players are Tabitha the Shetland sheep, her daughter Vanora and of course Boone..... Let's let them take over from here.....

Boone: "hmmm..hmmm..hmmm minding my own business---(then whispering) little baby sheep you look like you'd taste mighty good" (licks chops)

Tabitha: "What? What did you just say, you big toad? Little baby get behind me!"

Boone: "Bring it on sheep shrimp!" Tabitha: (As she leaps at him and stomps her front feet) "If this fence weren't stopping me, you'd have an even worse smashed in face!"

Me: "Boone GET AWAY and leave the sheep alone!"
Boone: "Stupid sheep...they are always getting me in trouble, and I wasn't doing nuthin!"
I'm still amazed that these sheep, who despite their bluster, are pretty defenseless, being willing to take on a dog. Not just when they are feeling maternal either, which is even more amazing. Shetland sheep---not your typical sheep!


Vicki Lane said...

So maybe these guys wouldn't respond to a border collie- be he never so trained.

Journaling Woman said...

Very funny, although not so much for Boone who I could tell was quite innocent. This might make a good comic book series.

Kathy said...


Of course, these are the same Shetlands who just stand when a lion is in the area and go, "What?"

phylliso said...

Boone looks as if he could never do anything remotely wrong,such a beautiful face,phylliso

HisTek said...

Liked your post, very funny. Most of my shetlands also have no problem standing up to , and ramming, the dogs. Shetlands are VERY entertaining.

Brenda (Prairie Daisy Handspun) said...

Hi Tammy,

Thought I'd just post here and let you know the papers from NASSA came. I feel very official now. :)

Thanks so much!

Tammy said...

I guess if they are trained to the dogs when young they will do better Vicki, but the older ewes could likely ruin a young inexperienced pup.
JW--- comic book series like Iggy the Inchworm???
Kathy--I can sure see that--although no lions here!