Sheep supposedly have peaceful, grazey lives. Counting them is allegedly soporific. But in reality they lead busy and productive lives. No sooner do they lamb than it’s time for the circle of life to begin again for them. In the evening sunshine the field gate swings open. A truck’s catch is slipped. Enter the ram, harnessed for action to mark his conquests and raring to go…
Some photos were taken after the ram had been investigating the 7 ewes in the field rather closely. Two had lambed, 5 were pregnant. The ram is demonstrating a FLEHMEN RESPONSE – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flehmen_response which explains it better than I can, and with a particular reference to sheep.
THE FLEHMEN RESPONSE
In September I posted about the 7 pregnant Poll Dorset sheep that a young farmer in our village had put in our paddock. I predicted “pastoral scenes, evenly-cropped grass… with pre-Christmas lambs in prospect…”. The sheep were removed for a month or so to let the grass regrow. Yesterday morning there was an unusual sound coming from the field. Rounding the corner of the house we saw a single tiny lamb, 2 days old, mewing rather piteously.
Number 2: the first in its field…
It was soon joined by twin lambs a few days older
Then came the 2 mothers. Then the 5 still-pregnant sheep waddled into the field, all due to lamb within the next 3 weeks. Here’s one of the proud mothers.
The sheep and lambs were numbered so it was easy tell which belonged to which. But whereas the mothers also knew their own lambs, it was taking the lambs a while to cotton on to the numbering system…
Number 2 has still to get the hang of the system…
Number 2 and one of the twins
Pretty lambs all in a row
For six years we had our neighbour’s 3 alpacas in our paddock. Advantages: they mowed the grass and were decorative. Drawbacks: they caused a lot of damage by digging and from their peculiarly toxic waste; and were annoyingly passive / aggressive. So we moved them off, spent last winter filling in all the holes with a ton of topsoil and re-seeding, followed by a programme of regular harrowing, mowing and rolling to make the field ready for our son’s wedding on midsummer’s day (where we had our own reception a few
years decades ago).
Now what? The answer is: sheep. Peaceful, munching grazers with no obvious drawbacks. A young farmer in the village has put 7 pregnant Poll Dorset sheep in the paddock. Result: pastoral scenes, evenly cropped grass, and a damage-free field – with pre-Christmas lambs in prospect.
The Dorset breed of sheep comes in both poll and horn varieties. Here are specimens of each kind photographed at a recent show in Dorset. The breed is hardy (as befits Hardy country), and unusually they can lamb 3 times over the course of 2 years, making them a productive option for a young farmer building up his flock.