The Boys

Issachar, Robin, Asher, and Liam in the barn

We have four very gentle and well-behaved wethers (castrated male sheep).

Liam, who was not so well-behaved when he was a lamb and was always getting into trouble. Just a few days after he was born, he got stuck in between the inner and outer walls of the barn.  Then he had his ribs broken by our donkey Simon.  He strutted around with the attitude of a cocky teenager and gave our border collie Red a hard time (although Red had no trouble putting him in his place). I remember thinking that the sooner we castrated him the better.

But Liam grew up to be a kind and gentle sheep.

The twin’s Asher and Issachar can be a little clingy because they were bottle-fed.  Not by us, but by Liz our shearer at the time.  Both boys have no problem putting their faces in mine.  They often try to eat my clothes, hat, or hair.  One time one of them (I don’t remember which) pulled an earring out of my ear without my even feeling it. I did see it in his mouth and took it out, which he kindly let me do.

But even when they’re pushy, Issachar and Asher never push too hard and always back down when I ask them to.

Robin likes to hang around the twins.  I see them together more and more.  The three of them eat out of the elevated feeder, probably because it’s easy for them to reach since they’re taller than the ewes and there’s less competition.    Robin does his share of butting heads and has a wild side to him.  But he’s no trouble and as long as I don’t move too quickly, or show him my hands he’ll put his face up to mine as if he’s saying hello, but never gets too close.

Real farmers don’t keep male sheep.  They send them off to market and either sell the ewes for breeding or keep them to breed themselves. But I’m not a real farmer. I can’t imagine sending my sheep to the auction up the road from us.

For me, they’re not pets, but not quite farm animals either. I feel like we’ve figured out how to live together in a way that works for all of us.

4 thoughts on “The Boys

  1. Maria, thank you for keeping and loving the boys. I didn’t know that real farmers don’t keep the males. They are lovely boys.

  2. Maria what a beautiful narrative and photo!
    I have always loved the Liam stories –
    You are so aware of and acknowledge their personalities – that is why your photos are so wonderful.
    They are all so fortunate to be with you.

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