Animals can’t tell us when they’re not feeling well or if something is wrong. And they are good at hiding their injuries and illnesses. But when you know them well enough, you can also see when something is off, even if you don’t know exactly what it is.
The past week or so I’ve noticed that Liam is walking slowly, almost as if his legs hurt. He’s the last to come out to graze and is often by himself.
The life span of sheep is about 10-12 years and Liam is seven years old. He’s always been in good health but I did notice he didn’t have as much wool, as usual, this year. His mother Suzy, who is about 9 years old, is still very healthy and growing as much wool as she ever has.
There’s nothing to do but keep an eye on Liam. Maybe whatever is bothering him will pass.
The sheep know how to find shade on these hot days. There’s a cool and cozy spot next to the pole barn behind my studio. This morning Asher was eating from the low branches of the cedar tree. Sometimes Bud will stand at the fence and bark at the sheep but they don’t pay much attention to them.
It went so well with Merricat I thought I’d try a glamour shot with Constance too. I think I captured her attitude as well as her beauty.
Now I want to try it with the rest of the sheep. Although it may work better when their wool grows in some. All those locks add to the effect.
Suddenly Merricat seems to have grown from a lamb into a sheep. She is a year old now and you can see it in her long face. It’s hard to remember exactly what she looked like when she came to the farm last fall or even a few months ago, without looking at pictures. But she did look more like Robin. Soft and round, her features less defined. (click here to see a picture or Merricat in March)
When I saw her locks hanging over her eyes I immediately thought of Rosemary.
Merricat’s wool is different than Rosemary’s which was tight ringlets, and Merricat is more friendly, less skittish. I don’t think Rosemary ever really got over the year or so she was neglected before we got her. She was always a little wary of people.
Looking at this photo, I thought it was like one of the glamour photos that people get taken of themselves. A studio portrait.
But it’s really just a setting on my iPhone and Merricat’s willingness to look at my camera.
Lori is looking good these days. She’s filling out after giving birth (all that spring grass has been good for her) and her wool is growing back nicely. Robin spends more and more time on his own or with the other sheep, but he and Lori still keep an eye out for each other.
Today, they were snuggled up in the shade of the pole barn.
Robin still has that lamb’s baa. It’s the desperate cry of a hungry or frightened baby looking calling for his mother. And although Robin is no longer dependent on Lori to feed him, that urgent baa gets my attention.
I heard it yesterday morning when I was upstairs in the house packing up my Mystical Cat Potholders for the mail. When I looked out the bedroom window, there was Robin in the barnyard by himself. The rest of the sheep were still grazing, but they started leaving the pasture in response to Robin’s cries.
Issachar led the other sheep and Robin ran up to him and tried to nurse. Robin has done this before, confused Asher and Issachar for Lori. Luckily they’re patient with him and just walk away. I don’t think Liam would be as kind.
Robin seemed satisfied now that the rest of the sheep were joining him and was quiet after that, so I went back to work.
This morning Robin had his mouth wrapped around the metal gate. He’s really much too big to be nursing anymore. It’s not easy for him to get himself low enough to reach Lori’s teats and she walks away when he tries.
I thought maybe he was teething, but sheep only start to get their permanent teeth after a year. Depending on the sheep, it can take about four years for them to get all their permanent teeth.
So maybe Robin was just satisfying his nursing urge by sucking on the gate.
It’s as hot as a summer day. But the three lambs, seem to have found one of the coolest spots in the barnyard. It’s unusual to see the three of them sitting so close together. I imagine between the breeze and the shade of the apple tree, they’re as comfortable as it gets.
Someday I’ll take that tire to the dump.
Like the shards of glass that pop up out of the ground each spring around the foundation of the old barn that fell down, the tire is a reminder of all the junk we pulled out of that barn.
I think the hens appreciate the heat. There are so many insects swarming now, they have their pick of what to eat.