Saturday, December 4, 2010

Settling in the Sheep

Well, I am finally a happy shepherdess at last! Accompanied by my good friends, Lauren and Heather Shelley from Roheryn Farms this afternoon, I trekked out to Olivet Michigan to Queso Cabeza Farm to pick up my sheep. They were waiting for us in a stock trailer and soon after arriving the breeder let me know that the badgerface ram that I'm borrowing had actually already bred Ingrid, the older larger ewe, while sequestered in the trailer.

Queso Cabeza is a great little farm, and I was happy to have the opportunity to see their wonderfully diverse flock of Icelandic sheep. I absolutely oggled at the amazing color variety in both their sheep and their beautiful Llamas.

We got the sheep loaded into the two dog crates in the back of the truck and tarped them over to keep the wind down on the drive home. This photo is a shot of Ingrid, looking a little paranoid in the back of the truck as we drove. She recovered quickly once we arrived though, and even let me get close enough to touch her (though I didn't take advantage of her proximity) while I was finishing up the gate that goes between their barnyard and their first pasture.

The three were happy to explore as soon as we got them out of the truck. The moorit ewe was easy to get into the field, the ram, not-so-much. He was very very upset to be taken away from Ingrid who was still in the truck. She is in season and so he is pretty obsessed with her. I lifted him from the truck and got halfway to the gate when he started leaping around in my arms! I quickly lowered him and managed to flip him onto his back. We kind of improvised the rest of the way to the field, but he was unharmed except for perhaps his dignity.

Obviously he was unharmed because much to our amuzement, within seconds of Ingrid's release into the field he started trying to mount her again... and again... and again... we lost count after roughly twenty times. It was hilarious. He is a ram lamb, so he's pretty sure he likes this new thing he figured out! Ingrid was polite, and then a little less so, and then finally she spun around and shoved him off... She's a sweetheart, even if she is shy.

The moorit is the exact opposite of Ingrid. She is bold, confident and incredibly curious. She stopped by to visit me multiple times as I did odd jobs around their field, and when my DH let the dogs out, she marched right up to the fence and stomped at them! The dogs were pretty unimpressed, though I did notice Basil seemed more focused than usual. The sheep were equally unimpressed once they figured out that the dogs were just dogs and not something more threatening.

When dusk came and I went to bring the sheep into the barn I started fretting because I'd waited until near dark to bring them in. What if they're a handful? I should've put that light up in their stall so they'd be more confident going into it for the first time. What if I can't get them in the barn? Oh no! Well, after years of ducks and horses, figuring out how to herd these guys with my body language was pretty easy! I know it won't stay this easy, as they get more and more used to me, but for tonight at least all it took was a few flails of my arms in varying directions to get them into the barn yard, and then Ingrid took it from there. She must've smelled the hay or their grain or something, or maybe she just read my mind. She marched boldly into the barn, into the sheep stall and started right in on the hay. Woah! I'm sure it won't be this easy every time, but it was welcome after a long day and a few moments of fretting.

This is the beginning of a great adventure, I'm sure...


  1. this is so cool! keep on posting!

  2. I am happy to see they are none the worse for the wear after their ride! The poor ram lamb will learn quickly enough that ewes do not cycle forever.

    It is always gratifying to send sheep to a wonderful new home, where they will be truly appreciated. Thank you for that. :-)