For some reason I never think of my sheep Kim as being old. Yet she is one of my older sheep. Maybe it’s her “Lamb Chop” face. Or her long thick wool that continues to grow like the younger sheep’s wool.
When I first met Jon’s sheep, when he and I were just friends (he had over 30 of them) I used to watch them follow each other. When one broke off from the flock, it was just a matter of time before they all followed. Back then I didn’t think of them as being individuals. They were all the same kind of sheep and there were so many of them, except for a few who had distinguishing markings, they were hard for me to tell apart.
So when I first got my sheep I wondered if they had different personalities.
Now I can’t imagine even asking that question. My years with sheep have taught me how they are all so different from each other. Even the twins Asher and Issachar have subtle differences in the way they look and behave and sound.
Now I look at the fish in our fish tank and try to see the differences in them.
It’s harder for us humans than it is for those fish to see their individuality. (They see colors and marking on each other that we can’t see just as birds hear more subtlites in the songs they sing that we can’t) All I had to do was look at their tails and fins and see that they are all different sizes and shapes. It’s harder for me to see with the smaller fish, but it doesn’t really matter. Because now I know that they don’t all look the same even if I can’t see their differences.
I recently heard about an experiment that was done with mice to see if they had varied personalities. Not only did the scientist find that they did, (some mice were bolder than others) but they suggested that personality diversity is necessary for balance in the natural world. (we need mice who take less chances because they’re more likely to survive longer).
It’s one of those things that seemed obvious once I heard it. But it took me a long time to even ask the question.