Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chivalry of the Ovine Kind

We have a flock of six sheep: five ewes and one wether. They're quite tame; even the most skittish (Scaredy) doesn't mind our presence, especially when we're handing out treats, and several will eat from our hands. Their purpose in life is to eat, and they're easily moved about from orchard to paddock, wherever the grass is longest.

The wether is the oldest of them. We're not sure how old he is, but he already looked fairly elderly when he came to live here several years ago. He still eats heartily, and is quite active, although he moves stiffly (hence his name, Limpy). We've had him checked out, and there's nothing obviously wrong with him. It's probably something in the nature of arthritis.

A few evenings ago I went outside to gather rosemary, and saw the sheep behaving as if something was up. The ewes were tightly bunched, as sheep like to be when threatened, but Limpy was several sheep lengths in front of them, standing firm and ready to face off whatever the threat was.

It proved to be the very small dog that belongs to our nearest neighbours, and which gives the impression it would have trouble injuring a teddy bear. I doubt if the sheep were really frightened, and they were certainly in no real danger. But Limpy takes his responsibilities seriously. He may not know quite what to do with his harem, but he does know he must look after them.

It's the thought that counts.

Here they are enjoying fresh pasture: