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Sheep Have Bad Press

 

Lambs waiting to return to mama

Lambs waiting to return to mama

 

How many disparaging phrases have you heard about sheep?  “Led like sheep to the slaughter”; “The black sheep of the family”; “A wolf in sheep’s clothing”…

“Not fair” says our shepherd Christopher, and we agree.

Sheep’s instinct to herd is their protection.

Lacking speed, teeth or claws, hiding in a group is smart.  It follows that when shepherds want them to go into a pen or through a narrow gate, the sheep understandably feel less safe, and simply don’t want the same thing the people do.  That does not mean they are dumb.

A gang of lambs

A gang of lambs

They are individuals.  A stranger looking at a flock might think they are all alike, but those of us close to the animals can clearly see their personal characteristics.  There are mothers more skilled than others; confident leaders and obedient followers; ones who know the guardian dogs are to be obeyed fast while others are mavericks; the steeplechase jumpers who challenge all fences…

Some breeds have certain predictable traits.  A black-faced Suffolk ewe or lamb will be more calm and steady, whereas a lamb bred by a Border Cheviot will be feisty, almost high strung, with great ‘survivability’ skills.

On the road - photo by Audra

On the road – photo by Audra

Personalities vary also.  We fostered twins from one hour old, and one was far more skilled than the other at finding the food source.  It was first born, probably by just a few minutes, and was more playful and clearly the leader of the two.

Lambs being fostered have a high learning curve.   Their instincts say to go under a warm belly and feel for a firm warm teat, then drink milk of a certain flavour.  When they are fostered, they have to learn quickly to seek a hard black rubber nipple up high, with reconstituted powdered milk that doesn’t taste quite right.  A lamb who has been with a ewe for a few days will initially say ‘ptooey’ to the taste.  However, survival instincts rule, and usually by the second feeding they will move toward not away from the person with the bottle, thumping energetically at knees, seeking food.

Full tummies

Full tummies

Our two older foster lambs know “go for a walk” and “into your pen”.  (They like the first.)  I started to save the last bit of milk in the bottle to reinforce the latter directive. After one repeat they knew what to expect, and now enter eagerly.

The next time you hear someone disparage sheep, do challenge it.  Come and visit Topsy Farms and see for yourself.

Christmas tree outing – Topsy Farms style

 

Red cedar will make fence posts, with the top a scruffy Christmas tree

Red cedar will make fence posts, with the top a scruffy Christmas tree

Our son Jake wrote this song last year.

These pictures show his dad Ian, and his sons, Nathan and Michael, on this year’s Christmas tree outing down our laneway. This lovely tree gave us two sturdy six foot fenceposts, a few pieces of firewood that may also be used for our aeromatic red cedar squares for storing woolens, and a floor to ceiling tree, perfuming our livingroom.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all from the Topsy Farms folk.

pleased grandsons

pleased grandsons

SCRUFFY RED CEDAR

G Em D C

DECEMBER, MY FAMILY, TROMPING THROUGH THE SNOW

MY DAD HAS THE CHAINSAW, MOMMA HAS MY BROTHER AND ME IN TOW

I’M 9 YEARS OLD, AND I’M COLD, BUT IT DOES NOT BOTHER ME (hang on G)

D C G

THIS IS MY SPECIAL MEMORY, FINDING THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS TREE

D C G

THAT SCRUFFY RED CEDAR, MY FAMILY CHRISTMAS TREE

WE FINALLY PICK ONE OUT AND DRAG IT HOME, BUT IT’S MUCH TOO TALL

THIS OLD FARM HOUSE, MY HOME, HAS ONLY 8-FOOT WALLS

THE EXTRA, DAD LOPS OFF, IT’LL BE A FENCE POST IN THE SPRING (hang on G)

THAT SCRUFFY RED CEDAR, MY FAMILY CHRISTMAS TREE

OUR TREE DOES NOT LOOK LIKE ONE YOU MIGHT BUY IN A STORE

SURE IT’S A LITTLE ‘CHARLIE BROWN’, THE CEDAR SMELL I ADORE

WE GET OUT THE OLD STAR, THAT GRAM AND GRANDPA PASSED TO ME (hang G)

D C G

TONIGHT WE PUT THAT GOLD STAR UP ON TOP, OF A SCRUFFY CEDAR TREE

THAT SCRUFFY RED CEDAR, MY FAMILY CHRISTMAS TREE

A GOOD TWENTY YEARS HAS PASSED BY, NOW I’M A GROWN UP MAN

THIS TIME OF YEAR IS CRAZY, MY WIFE AND I DO THE BEST WE CAN

THIS YEAR FOR DECORATING, NO SPRUCE OF PINE WILL OUR 2 BOYS SEE (hang G)

D C G

WE’LL TAKE A SAW AND THE TOBOGGAN, FIND A SCRUFFY CEDAR TREE

THAT SCRUFFY RED CEDAR, MY FAMILY CHRISTMAS TREE X 2

(OUTRO) G D C

TROMPING THROUGH THE SNOW, LOW, LOW, LOW, LOW x 4

© Jacob Murray 2009

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