It was unexpected. I think Liz just wanted to drop him off without our knowing so we’d have a big surprise.
But I was surprised anyway when I saw Jon and what I thought was a woman playing with Zinnia out my studio window. It turned out to be Liz, walking our new sheep into the barnyard.
I ran out in my slippers.
By that time, the sheep was making the rounds and figuring out that he already knew three of the ewes.
Our new sheep is a five-month-old wether (castrated male). His twin is a female that Liz kept and she didn’t want to send the brother to market. So now we have him. He’s a mix of Merino, Romney, Blueface Leicester and one other breed that I never heard of and keep forgetting what it is. But I’ll find out from Liz. Even just from that combination I know he’s a great wool sheep.
And as you can see in the video, even though he was born at the same time as Merricat and Constance, he’s almost bigger than Merricat’s mom, Lori. He has those long, knobbed kneed legs and a speckled nose.
Liam gave him the smallest of head butts, but he hardly noticed. He’s easy-going and when I put out hay he went right to it, eating with the other sheep.
We don’t have a name for him yet. Jon and I thought it would be fun to ask all of you for names. So if you have any ideas, you can email me at [email protected]
Suzy’s working on a new shawl. Just looking at it makes me want to wrap myself in it, it looks so soft and warm.
She knitting some of the white locks from her mohair goats, into the gray. That gives it a different texture and look.
Suzy thinks she’ll have the shawl done by the end of the week, then I’ll be selling it right here.
Merricat had the feeder all to herself for a few minutes this morning while the donkeys chewed on a treat and the sheep ate from their feeder.
It didn’t take long for Fanny and Lulu to chase the sheep back to their own feeder and Merricat to follow me into the barn for her morning grain.
Fate was happy to circle the feeder as Merricat ate.
The only way I can explain why Merricat left the hay and the other sheep and followed me into the barn yesterday is that she learns quickly and remembers.
On Saturday afternoon she and her mother Lori came into the pole barn when I was mucking the manure. When I opened the door to the inner part of the barn both followed me in. I gently got Lori to leave, closed the door and gave Merricat some grain.
Lori made a little noise and hung around at first, but then went back to the feeder with the other sheep.
I didn’t expect Merricat to remember from this one experience, but she did.
I was wondering this morning how I could separate Merricat from the other sheep to grain her, but she made it easy. While the other sheep were eating she just followed me into the barn.
Jon wrote today that it has a lot to do with my intentions and that the sheep trust me. But I’ve only had the lambs and Lori a couple of weeks. I’m surprised they trust me already.
I have learned that the calmer I am and the easier I am around the sheep the more responsive they are.
After Merricat finished the grain, I let her out and she hung around me, expecting more to eat. Wanting her to eat with the rest of the sheep and not wanting her to get too attached to me, I left the barnyard, figuring that she’d join the rest of the sheep if I was gone.
And she did. As I look over the fence from a distance she was at her small pile of hay on the ground eating with Asher.
I think this is going to work.
I knew Suzy was working on another shawl, but I never expected her to be finished with it so soon after her last shawl sold.
Her new shawl has a subtle delicacy about it, but the colors are also powerful. The yellow and pink are dynamic together and Suzy used just the right ratio of them so they are striking without overpowering the white. The pink bleeds into the multicolored wool below it and the yellow melts into the white above it.
Suzy knit some of Rosemary’s locks that I sent her into the white just above the yellow.
I am constantly impressed by Suzy’s use of color in her shawls.
I see in these colors, the pink clouds and intense yellow of a sunrise. And I’ve never gotten such a strong feeling from one of her shawls. When I look at it I can’t help thinking it’s saying, Don’t underestimate me. I can be gentle, but my strength is unwavering.
As you probably all know by now, all of Suzy’s shawls are handspun and handknit. She uses the wool from her mohair goats, Lucy, April, Alice, Ruth and Larry as well as roving from some of her favorite fiber artists.
“You love having lambs,” Jon said to me as we pulled out of the driveway and I scanned the pasture for Merricat and Constance. Jon is always there to remind me of my nurturing nature. I have come to accept this idea with the qualifier that my nurturing instincts are limited to baby animals and don’t extend to human babies.
It’s true I’ve been very attentive to the new lambs.
This morning all the sheep were in the barnyard, including Constance, but Merricat was not with them. I never like to see a sheep by herself, it just isn’t natural for herd animals like sheep, especially a lamb who is already having some issues getting enough food.
But as I brought the hay into the barnyard, Merricat emerged from the barn looking as hungry as the rest of the sheep. As she always does at first, she tried to make her way to the feeder but as soon as the bigger sheep pushed her away she just stood there looking lost.
I pulled a bunch of hay from the feeder and put it on the ground. She immediately started eating but I do worry about her. So I quietly went into the barn and got a handful of grain which I dropped in the pile of hay Merricat was eating from.
She immediately started to gobble it up.
I had to be quiet about it, because if the other sheep hear me lift the metal top of the pail the grain is in they’ll come running. But I was able to trick them and it was only when Merricat had eaten most of the grain that Constance and Lori came to eat with her.
I’m going to try to get Merricat to follow me into the barn and feed her grain away from the other sheep as I was able to get Zelda and Griselle to do.
I think she may need the extra energy that grain provides especially with the coming winter.
They make a nice little family even if they aren’t really related.
Both Asher and Issachar have paid more attention to Lori and the lambs than any of the other sheep. That’s because Lori, Asher, and Issachar were all born three years ago on Liz’s farm. So in a way, Lori coming to Bedlam Farm is a kind of reunion for them.
When the new sheep first came Issachar was hanging around them, giving them all a good smell. Then he stayed with them in the pole barn when the other sheep went out to graze.
Now, sometimes when they’re eating Asher or Issachar will join Lori, Merricat, and Constance for a little while.
They don’t seem to mind the company.
It’s been four days since Liz brought my new sheep to the farm. Still, there are times when the three of them are separate from the rest of the flock. Their favorite place to graze is around the solar panels in the south pasture.
On Sunday, while the rest of the sheep were grazing in the back pasture, I lured Lori, Merricat, and Constance into the barnyard with some hay. They eagerly followed me and started eating as soon as I dumped the hay in the feeder.
Liz was concerned that Merricat wasn’t getting enough to eat at her farm and was supplementing her diet with grain.
I noticed that when the bigger sheep chased Constance away from the feeder, she came right back, pushing her way through to the hay. But when they pushed Merricat away, she wouldn’t try to fight her way back.
I wanted to feed the three sheep separately on Sunday to get them used to being around me and to reassure them that they would always have enough to eat. I learned from Jon that animals are calmer and more responsive if they know they don’t have to fight for food.
Since I saw that Merricat wasn’t eating at the feeder I’ve been putting a pile of hay next to the feeder for Merricat to eat from. Both Lori and Constance have joined her in eating from it and sometimes Asher or Issachar do too.
The rest of the sheep are content with their regular routine, not bothering the lambs while they eat.
The other thing I’ve been doing is sitting next to the three new sheep while they eat. I’ve found that with most animals it’s a good way to get them to trust me when they associate me with food. It also allows me to make sure that the lambs are getting enough food.
Today I started to lightly scratch the backs of the lambs while their eating. I’m hoping they’ll get used to me touching them too.
This kind of contact between us will just make for a more comfortable relationship as they get bigger.
That’s Merricat and Lori eating breakfast this morning. While (below) Constance pushed her way between the big sheep and ate with them at the feeder.