New Life in the Sheep Flock

What a welcomed sight these days!  New life emerging from the earth as the pastures begin to turn green again and spring bulbs push through the warming soil.  There are even fresh new faces among the sheep flock.

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The proud and content new mother out there is “Mary.”  On April Fool’s Day, the newest members of the flock arrived, meet “George” and “Marigold.”

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It never ceases to amaze me how strong the maternal instinct is among livestock.  On March 31st, all Mary knew was that she probably felt uncomfortable and a little pudgy.  She couldn’t quite keep up with the other ewes and the wool on her sides was pulling off from her excessively wide belly trying to fit through the door.  (Embarrassing!) A day later she felt this undeniably strong urge to protect and nurture the two new lives she just gave birth to.  There literally wasn’t an ounce of selfishness in her bones; those little lambs were her highest priority from that day forward and nothing…nothing was going to convince her of otherwise. It was truly a radical transformation.

I watched the same miracle of a new life beginning and mothering instincts kick in last night when another ewe, “Sybil” found herself in the strange new role as protector and caretaker.  (I downed a freshly baked Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffin a few seconds before heading out to the barn to check on her and wouldn’t ya know it–I missed the birth by seconds…darn muffin!)

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Ignore the grime and slime…this baby is less than 30 minutes old.  All things considered, he’s pretty clean and dry though.  Sybil did a stellar job at getting her lamb off to a good start.  Meet ‘Tom”…and if you haven’t caught on by now, yes, we are indeed fans of Downton Abbey!

DSC_0145Our Border Collie, Calla Lilly doesn’t miss A THING in the sheep pen- especially when lambs are around.  She wouldn’t let anyone out of her sight and prides herself in being ‘in control’ at all times.  Another fascinating instinct, the relationship a working dog has with its livestock.  (We let Calla think the sheep are hers)

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This is Calla’s spy position in the lambing pen.  She’ll gently rest her head on a lower board and glue her eyes on the lamb(s) in the pen.  The curious lambs will walk right up to her and she’ll stay perfectly still, just letting them explore her face.  The ewes on the other hand will flat-out charge her if they feel even slightly threatened.  It’s amazing how a ewe can send a dog yipping and running if she feels they’ve gone too far into her and her lambs personal space.  Calla ha been sent running, but not by our ewes yet.   All in good time I’m sure.  These new mothers have a great deal to protect and defend!

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