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Sheep Tails

Bonaparte, the Littlest Lamb

 
Early one Spring morning, Esr11, the oldest ewe, had twin lambs: a big ewe lamb and a  tiny ram lamb. 

The white headed ewe lamb was named112 Bridget and the tiny ram lamb was named Bonaparte.  He had a flash of white on top of his head.

As the weeks went on, more lambs were born to other ewes.  All the lambs received names starting with the letter ‘B’ because it was our second year of breeding Soay.   Barnaby was the biggest of all the lambs.  Baxter was the mischievous lamb.  Brenna and Beatrice were twin ewes and Bella was the tan ewe lamb.  As Spring turned into Summer, all the lambs were getting bigger,  all except for Bonaparte.  He was the smallest of the lambs.

As the lambs got stronger, they began to play games like king of the hill, and who can jump the highest and run the fastest.  Barnaby and Baxter were always in the lead.  As the ram lambs grew, their horns also became large and heavy and they began practicing ramming each other.  Bonaparte seemed to know to stay out of the way.

One day when I  came home, I heard  a tiny ‘baaa’ing.  I went to the barn and counted the ram lambs.  Bonaparte was not there!  I heard the tiny ‘baaa’ing coming from the field and thought he might be stuck somewhere. After looking all over the pasture and fence line, I  walked down to the ram pen where the adult rams were.  In the pen with the adult rams and their massive horns, peaking around the side of the run-in shed was the tiny face of Bonaparte!  I called out to him and he came running as I opened the gate.  He ran straight up to the barn to be with the other ram lambs.
Although Bonaparte was the littlest lamb, he was the only one brave enough to go into the ram pen with the big boys.

Campbell's Big Adventure

I went out early one morning 111 and found that Campbell was not in the ram's pen.  It was very foggy that morning and he must of been disorientated and went through the fence and couldn't find his way back.  The fog was as thick as pea soup so it was difficult to see where he might have gone.  
When the fog lifted, I looked everywhere, thinking he had been eaten by a coyote.  I searched the fence perimeter and throughout the forest. I couldln't find him or any evidence of his remains.  It was a mystery.
 Later that morning, on the way to town I looked out the car window at the nearby fields and saw a bunch of turkeys way off in the distance. There was one strangly large 'turkey'.  When I got back from town, I walked out onto the fields to get a closer
look.  The closer I got to the turkeys, the farther they moved away.  However that 'odd looking  turkey' was still with them.
It was nearly dusk by the time we had finished mending the fence to prevent any further breakouts. As the sun set, the lambs and ewes were all baaing at each other as part of their nightly head count ritual.
The sound must have drawn Campbell home because soon he was at the bottom gate, snorting and trying to jump through the gate.  His horns prevented him from fitting through the spaces between the bars so he started running up along the outside of the fence.  We managed to get behind him and guided him into the front of the barn.  After we checked him over to make sure he wasn't injured we got him back in with his ram friends.  I guess Campbell decided he'd rather be a sheep than a turkey.
Ariel the Brave One

When we first brought our starter flock of British Soay sheep home, they had to stay in the garage until the barn was finished.  114 Rains had delayed the barn's completion.  The sheep settled into their temporary accommodations, only to be moved to their permanent home a couple weeks later when the barn was finished.
Our starter flock consisted of two ewe lambs, two adult ewes, and two rams.  Soay are very shy and it takes time for them to ‘warm’ up to new surroundings and new people.  Moving from the garage to the barn didn't help with this transition.  However I soon found Ariel, one of the ewe lambs, coming up to smell my hands and boots as I put their feed out.  Ariel was the first to eat out of my hand. 
Ariel was very curious, and was always the first one to try new experiences.  When the guard llama arrived, Ariel was the first to check him out.  She soon figured out that if she ran, he would chase her.  She turned this into a ‘chase me’ game and got the other ewes to join in the game.  This lasted until the llama began  clucking that he’d had enough. 
Ariel was definitely the bold one of the group, like a scout, she would go out ahead of the other ewes to give the 'all clear' before the rest of the ewes would approach. 
In the Spring of 2011, Ariel had a beautiful tan lamb, our first tan lamb on this farm.    Bella is like Ariel in many ways.  She is also very curious and likes to smell my hands and shoes.  Sadly we lost Ariel to copper poisoning in June 2012.
Dahli, the Guard Llama

122 We were told that having a guard llama with the sheep is a good deterrent against coyotes.  After some researching, we decided on a castrated male llama that had never been used for breeding.  We found a breeder in our area that showed us several llamas she had available.  Dahli was a ‘retired’ show llama, so he was fairly easy to handle so we decided on him.
Dahli Llama was originally named ‘Woody’ because of his red top, but he had too much character so we re-named him something that matched his personality.
As I got to know Dahli and his behavior, I was able to tell by his humming or clucking when he was worried or irritated about something.  I also discovered that he has selective hearing when it comes to trying to stop him from chasing the sheep around the pasture or reaching over barriers to nibble on grass.
It has become a routine that Dahli expects to sample the flakes of hay that I carried out to the rams.  He gives an irritated hum if I don’t top up his hay in the wheelbarrow.
When it comes to the sheep, they are Dahli’s sheep.  He considers himself their protector.  He once sounded the alarm when our chickens wandered too close to the sheep area.  He really doesn’t like chickens.
Now that he has experienced several lambing seasons, Dahli is an expert at watching over the lambs. He puts his face down close to the ground so the lambs can come up and sniff him.  One day,  the lambs decided to race around in a circle underneath Dahli, using him as a tunnel.  Dahli stood perfectly still, but hummed, looking at me as if to say, ‘do something about this please’.
Over the course of the summer, lambs were sold and our flock size became smaller.  Dahli had fewer lambs to look after.  The remaining ram lambs were getting too big to stay with their mothers so I separated them out into another pen.  After I shut the door on the ram lambs pen, Dahli leaped up into the air and stood in front of the ewes and stared at me as if to say, you can’t have any more.
I’ve heard that the personality of the llama is what makes them a good guard animal.  Dahli definitely has a lot of personality.
Never say Never

One Spring day a friend of mine and her family came for a farm visit. 

I shared with them information on where Soay sheep originally came 123 from, showed them a timeline of sheep evolution. and we examined samples of different types of fleece. 

As we talked about the lambs, my friend’s daughter, Auna, looked over the pen wall gazing at the sheep.  I suggested that we go into the pen for a closer look.  My friend asked if the sheep would ram them.  I said that the rams were the only ones you had to watch out for.  The ewes have never rammed anyone.
With that we entered the pen of ewe mothers and lambs.  Auna knelt down on the ground close to one of the lambs and reached out to touch it.  Suddenly from the other side of the pen, Ouxy, an older ewe stomped her feet, backed up, and charged.  It all happened so fast, my friend and I gasped and froze as we saw this ewe charging towards Auna.  When Ouxy got right next to Auna, she stopped, and gave Auna a nudge with her head.  Auna immediately burst into tears and we all exited the pen quickly.  Although physically unhurt, Auna was upset because she thought my sheep didn’t like her.  Such are the minds of children, so innocent and so forgiving.
During another farm visit, when a father took his young son into the pen of ewes and lambs, I pointed out Ouxy, just in case.  Sure enough Ouxy gave a couple pounces towards the little boy warning him not to get any closer.  This time we were prepared and scooped up the youngster in time.
Ouxy had a lot of spunk.  She would fiercely protect not only her own twin lambs but the other lambs as well.  She never did ram anyone, but gave the appearance that she would if she had to.  Sadly we lost Ouxy to copper poisoning in August 2012.