Somewhere along the line there has become a need to open a geriatric wing out in the sheep paddock. It's hard to believe that some of my 'old girls' really are old girls.
Rouen (Shandrew Rouen) on the left was the first to join the club. She was born in 2000 so she'll be twelve this Spring. It took awhile to convince her to be the charter member to the Old Ladies Club, since she is so independent and sometimes just down right contrary.(I don't need no stinking special treatment!) She loves a good scratch and petting session. She is pretty stiff and I'm sure sore when she first gets up and moving in the morning, but she can still move pretty fast once she is warmed up. I love that sweet little monkey face and I love the independent (yet curious and friendly) personality that is a hallmark of the Shetland breed. Rouen comes up to the barn in the morning after I feed and eats her portion out of the feed bucket while the others are eating. At night she runs to the gate for her nightly slice of bread.
Willow (Locksfield Willow) is on the right. Willow was born in 2001 and will be 11 this Spring. Willow was the first Shetland that I ever owned. I bought her and boarded her until after breeding season at her former owner's home. She came here (along with an ewe lamb) and produced two ram lambs for me --the first Fairlight Shetlands. From all accounts she was a very friendly ewe at her former home, but for me, she has always remained aloof. She is not a wild ewe, but very shy. When I bought her, I also bought a small grey ewe lamb named Rain. Rain as it turns out was Rouen's daughter. The fall of the year that Willow lambed I also bought Rouen and brought her here. Evidently her and Willow were sworn enemies and there was no glorious reunion--just fussing and fighting. Over the years as their family lines have melded and age has caught up with them, they are now for the most part civil to each other. Once in awhile they will swipe each other in a shadow of the spirit of younger days. Willow has joined the bread brigade at night and now runs to the gate for her slice. She has also started seeking me out after feeding in the morning for an additional grain handout. We might become good friends yet.
These two ewes, were my foundation Shetlands and they have served faithfully producing wool and babies for many years. Both are retired now and deserve every bit of spoiling they can get.
The third member of the Old Ladies Club is Gracie. Dear, pushy Gracie. She really doesn't need extra groceries but I did promise her when she hit 10 she would get special treatment. I conveniently 'forgot' for a whole year, but since she will be 11 in March, well, it was time. The reason for the delay is that Gracie has trouble handling her cookies. She turns into a cookie fiend (or bread or cracker) and will obnoxiously try and get all the cookies--whatever it takes. She will body block (not slam, she is very polite) any other sheep from getting close to the cookies--she also will continuously body block me as I try and maneuver through the paddock. She would make a good sheep dog, as she has herding down to a science. She is learning a few manners--proving that you can teach an old dog..or sheep new tricks. She is getting really good about 'back up' before she gets her bread.
Gracie was one of my original four sheep--Dorsets by breed. I bought her and her three half sisters when i decided to 'get into the sheep biz'. I had no clue about what to pick in a sheep and fortunately their breeder had nice healthy sheep. Presented with a sea of weanling white sheep, I picked Faith because she was big, solid and strong looking, Mercy because she was a nice sized compact ewe, June because she was large, and had a beautiful unusual looking face, and slightly different look to her lovely wool. And Gracie. Little bitty Gracie--a March born ewe lamb in a flock of January sisters. I picked Gracie because of her sweet little face. And Gracie turned out to be my little companion ewe--always following me around, always meeting me at the gate. She has always been special, and has been the heart of the flock. Yes...you too Gracie, you've earned your Old Lady special rewards!
There are several waiting in the wings to belong to the OLC. I'm trying to convince Callum to join--even if he isn't an old lady, but an old wether. I think it won't be long before he submits his membership--that hunk of bread I've been slipping him on the sly is getting to him. Of course Blue the Rotten has his own Old Rotten Club. Since he is still a ram he has his own personal suite and paddock next to the girls, where he gets two pounds of grain a day plus a half loaf of bread, and special hay as well. Much to the dismay of the rest of the flock, some sheepies get special treats and special eats--it's called retirement with benefits!