Seriously. We have a flock of sheep.
You can’t be more surprised than I am.
Here’s what happened. Last week, a reader passed on to me the fascinating tidbit of information that a farmer in Virginia was closing out his sheep operation and giving away his flock. Nothing rings more beautifully in the air here at Stringtown Rising Farm than the word free. Combine that with the word sheep and I’m in big trouble.
So next thing you know, I was a couple hundred miles away from here in the back of a pickup truck inside a barn in Virginia holding onto a 250-pound ram by a fistful of his incredibly long, curly wool while four more sheep were being loaded into the truck along with him.
You ever try to hold onto a 250-pound ram by a fistful of wool? I broke a nail and everything.
One ewe bolted before making it onto the ramp into the truck and escaped the barn. There goes my ewe! Apparently she didn’t know what to do with herself, though, and she circled back into the barn from the other side. The retiring sheep farmer and 52 brought the sheep one at a time to the truck–a ram and four ewes–and shoved them up the ramp. At that point, the tailgate in the truck would have to be opened and it was my job to keep everybody who was already on the truck in place. Luckily, they have a lot of wool to hang onto, but even so, I only have two hands. After I had a fistful of wool in each hand, I had to just start threatening the others. No cookies for you if you cause trouble! Every time the men loaded one and left me alone standing in the bed of the pickup with those woolly mammoths, I was scared the sheep would kill me before they returned with the next one.
A West Virginia woman was killed in a freak incident Monday in which three sheep sat on her head. “Sheep weigh hundreds of pounds,” a police spokesperson reported. “She never had a chance. We’re still working to recover the body from beneath the wool.”
Finally loaded, we drove off with a sea of wool waving in the bed of the pickup truck.
We stopped for gas and food from Arby’s. People stared.
It was late by the time we made it back to the farm. Unloading is so much easier than loading.
Clover and Co. were put away for the night in their goat house before the sheep were unloaded. The sheep ran around the back of the goat house and spent the night hiding there.
Clover spent the night on the porch of her goat house staring at them.
Bright and early yesterday morning, we started the introductions. Princess encouraged the goats into a meet -n- greet with the ram.
They sniffed each other and said hello. (Notice that the ram is as tall sitting down as the goats are standing up.)
Then the goats went off to play on some boards that had been left in the yard the night before while the sheep inspected the goat house.
With everybody relaxed so far, the next introduction was made.
First, from outside the fence….
The Giant Puppy didn’t know what to make of the giant sheep.
They’re bigger than she is! She had no idea such a thing was possible!
Coco: “Take me to Annabelle…..”
We have two Jacob sheep, both ewes.
Jacobs are dramatic and unique sheep. An “Old World” unimproved breed (meaning not altered or enhanced over the centuries by crossing with other breeds, also referred to as a “primitive” breed), they’re considered to be almost goat-like with their slight builds and more playful, agile personalities. They sport anywhere from two to six horns, and they have very thick wool. I stuck my hand into one of them and the wool swallowed my fingers before I hit skin.
We also brought home three woolly mammoths, aka Cotswold sheep, a ram and two ewes.
Cotswolds are an old English heritage breed. They were quite popular in the Middle Ages for their long, curly fleece. They are also known as good mothers and are very calm. Not to mention massive. The breed is now classified as rare. Our three are purebred Cotswolds, so I’m excited not only to have sheep but to contribute to saving this beautiful heirloom breed. (Can you believe they were free? I mean, how could I have resisted?)
I’d like to find a Jacob ram sometime soon. The Jacobs yield a fabulous multi-colored fleece and, like the Cotswolds, are an endangered breed in need of conservation. As these two ewes are purebreds, I’d like to breed them as well. They’re quite interesting, in an alien “we are sheep from Mars” kinda way. I went to Virginia for the Cotswolds, but I couldn’t leave without the Jacobs, too.
They all need shearing soon. For now, they’re sharing quarters with the goats, but as soon as possible, they’ll be moving to their own pasture in our meadow bottom. (Partially fenced, needs finishing.)
And I gotta figure out what I’m going to do with all that wool…………
Sheep…… First Annabelle, now five more. Within a couple of days, I went from zero to half a dozen. I have a flock–and a whole new adventure! I love new adventures.
I think, tomorrow, I shall get some elephants.