Annabelle, say goodbye to your tail.
Tail, say goodbye to Annabelle.
Sheep have their tails docked because they aren’t necessary and, in fact, attract dirt and flies, so they’re a health hazard. We had Annabelle’s tail banded yesterday. The rubber band is attached with a special tool, which then slides away, leaving the band in place.
The tail will fall off in a few weeks. I’m going to sell it on eBay. I’M JUST KIDDING.

I would tell you how much it looked like it hurt her, but I can’t stand to think about it. It’s hard to be a farmer. In fact, I couldn’t even handle having anything to do with it so we had our sheep farmer friends do the deed. It was quickly over, and it was time. Time for our little lamb who thinks she is a dog to be a sheep.

The good news is that after about fifteen minutes, she was back to her usual self, back to her bottle and her Giant Puppy and her blankie. I still think she’s mad at me, though. I think making up for this is gonna take a whole lotta cookies.
Annabelle: “But dogs have tails!!!!”

Read my latest column in today’s Charleston Daily Mail!


  1. Steph says:

    Oh, poor little thing… I’m sure she’ll forgive you, especially after you introduce her to cookies! Mmmm.

  2. Sue says:

    Odd how sheep even have tails. Why can’t Annabelle’s be like the goats’ cute little tufty ones? It’d save a lot of bother!

  3. Sheila Z says:

    Farming, not for the faint of heart. The cute face makes it all worth it thought.

  4. Bee says:

    As balm to wounded feelings, you can’t beat cookies. I think it’s gonna take a lot, though.

  5. Kathie says:

    Why did she have to have the tail bobbed? Would it have been a problem to keep it? Would the other lambs had made fun of her for having it? Poor thing.

  6. Cece says:

    I would have a problem with some of the necessities of being a farmer. I am such a sap, with such a faint heart. If all apart when I have to clip my dog’s nails. LOL

    Thanks for sharing the pictures, Annabelle is such an adorable baby. I am sure cookies will help and her bottle. Coco sure seems interested in a warm bottle. Too sweet.

    Have a great day,


  7. Kathryn says:

    I am sure Coco will keep her company as long as there are bottles involved. Poor baby, she will be fine and scampering before you know it!

  8. Kate says:

    All it takes for forgiveness is some cookie-lovin’! And that goes for people as well as sheep ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. cgReno says:

    Once again I am reminded why I would be a really bad farm girl. AWWW. Hey, regardig “biscuts and gravy” Food for the Gods….grew up on it, one more ingredient to be added however, a can of chopped mild green chilis, unless of course my dad was cooking and the it was HOT, would stay with you for about two weeks……..

  10. mattilda says:

    Thank you for putting that image in my head this morning. I am sure it will disturb me the rest of the day!

  11. tracibest says:

    OH NO! Oh I couldn’t have stood to watch either! In fact I probably would be the only sheep owner in town whose sheep still had tails! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope darling Anabelle feels better today!

  12. flowerthread says:

    Aw No I couldn’t have watched this..That little face really gets to me..I wonder why they don’t dock the tails earlier like when they are first born..Also I have been wondering how is the sheep that got her tit cut off..that really disturbed me too..Connie

  13. epon4 says:


    Don’t feel bad about this. You are doing her a favor in the long run. From the little I’ve read, things like this are done for the health and well being of the animal.

    I suspect she’ll be happier once she’s a big sheep. :sheep:

  14. Lucy says:

    Oh….that face. So cute. I always wondered why sheep don’t get to keep their tails. Seems strange that they were born with something that has no use. Hey….freeze it and sell it on ebay. I would bet somebody out there in la-la land would buy it. They buy such stranger things than that.

  15. CindyP says:

    Awww, Annabelle is going to be even prettier now! All fixed up and looking like a sheep, but she’s gonna wonder why Coco has a tail and she doesn’t!! Annabelle will thank you in the long run……and thank goodness for Mike and Kathy!! I’m sure the cookies will bring her around again, they’ve worked magic on Clover!!

  16. Treasia/TruckersWife says:

    Personally I think she deserves more than a cookie. How about a cupcake for Annabelle? :sheep: You know her butt’s gotta be hurting.

  17. Nancy in Atlanta says:

    I love Annabelle’s little bit of eyelashes – without a tail to swish, I’ll bet she learns how to flutter those lashes to break your heart! Yep, a lot of cookies and a lot of hugs should bring her around.

    Give her a hug from Emma and me. :sheep:

  18. Dawn says:

    I thought banding was supposed to be done within the first week of life otherwise it is very painful and can lead to tetanus. I know in the UK there is a law in that restricts banding to the first week of a lamb’s life for those reasons.

    Tail does serve a purpose. “…the sheep’s tail is not like a person’s appendix; it has a purpose. It protects the sheep’s anus, vulva, and udder from weather extremes. Sheep lift their tail when they defecate and use their tail, to some extent, to scatter their feces.”

    On the other hand, if fly strike can be prevented then I would think I would have to lean that way too. I don’t envy you your decision…poor Annabelle.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Hopefully someone more experienced than me will chime in, but it’s my understanding that feces etc becomes caught in the tail (especially as it will become quite woolly as the rest of her coat will as it grows) and this creates a lot of potential health problems with flies and so on, even maggots. The tail is not cut so short as to not allow it to protect her privates. As for the timing, some people do it shortly after birth (castration also) while another school of thought is to wait a couple of months in order to allow the animal to gain immunities before doing anything that could create a risk of infection.

  19. Jill S. says:

    I love her face. But I feel her pain, poor thing!

  20. Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife says:

    Very interesting.

    I love the idea of a lamb and her blankie.

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  21. Claudia W. says:

    Annabelle is still the cutest lamb in all the land. I’m sorry for her discomfort, but yes, it was a good thing for her.
    Thanks for the great explanation of the reason for removal by VW Hills. Very informative and I now know more about this subject. Just in case it ever comes up at the hardware store! (you never know, I live in a rural-ish area)

  22. Rhonda says:

    You’re right, caring for animals can be rough. It is like caring for children. I remeber the first time I took my son to get his immunizations. I am pretty sure I cried harder than he did. I also cried the day I had to “cull” one of my chickens that had a deformity and I knew she wasn’t going to make it.

    I am glad Annabelle’s first “Mom” gave more information behind the reasons for docking. I have wondered why it was done, but since I have no experience with sheep, I didn’t know.

    Hugs for sweet little Annabelle.


  23. Linda says:

    That last pic brings tears to my eyes. I feel so bad for her but know it is best. I hope it doesn’t take 3 weeks though.

  24. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Thank you, Kathy, for explaining much better than I can!

  25. shirley says:

    Suzanne, you take such good care of your animals.Being a farmer is tough work.

  26. catslady says:

    Thank you so much for the explanation – I totally understand now. I’m especially glad you told me the history of the tail because otherwise I would have wondered why sheep had long tails – since man messed with them, it all makes sense now. I saw a show where they just sliced it off with a knife – yikes! And I can’t even repeat how they had the males castrated.

  27. SuzieQ says:

    Annabelle, it’ll be OK..just enjoy the cookies and your blankie!! :sheep: :sheep:

  28. April says:

    I just found this blog and love it! I have read through your archives and love this place that you live in already. It makes me want to find my own little slanted house to raise my kids in! I look forward to reading your updates!

  29. Darlene says:

    My parents used the “band” to castrate the calves. Once on (and you do have to know how) it had no effect on them. They were back outside playing as if nothing had happened. I was always told it was a painless way to do what had to be done.

    From you post it appears it has the same effect on lambs.

    If I ever had to do any of this I would much prefer the band than a knife.

    Love your site and all your “pets! So glad Clover is home ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Bobbie says:

    I’m glad this deal is over and done with for sweet Annabell–but I’ve been thinking that she probably will have to take a long, long time to forgive you-has she been kinda “standofish with you since then? I am secretally sending her a map to my house-to come and live here-I’m afraid she will never get over “that tail docking” deal, and she can be safe here for ever and ever. You may visit in a few years. Hugs, Bobbie

  31. Estella says:

    Being a farmer takes a strong person!

  32. Marley Delarose says:

    ๐Ÿ˜ฅ Poor baby. Like you, I can’t stand to be responsible for hurting my baby. I think it really hurts me more.
    Bet you’re glad Spring is on the way.

  33. Brandy says:

    Tell Annabelle that there are some dogs that have to go through the same thing! *G* But, I couldn’t have watched that, either.

  34. Amy says:

    I’m having flashbacks to when the kids’ umbilical stubs fell off.

    Not good ones.

    Poor Annabell. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

  35. Cranberry says:

    Thank you for that very interesting and helpful explanation of the science behind the tail docking – it really was, now I don’t feel it was an unnecessary process. On the other side, I adopted a S :happypuppy: cottie puppy and he really does look funny with a long curvy over-the-back tail, I wish he had gotten docked as a youngster but will not do it now that he is a 1 year old. I just clip his tail close so it doesn’t look like he’s something he’s not. :chicken:

  36. Sheila Lehmenkuler says:

    Boxer dogs have their tails docked (cut off) at 3 days old. They have very heavy long tails, so this is necessary. Pictures of Annabelle just melt my heart.

  37. Leisha says:

    Clover had me won over now I have made room for Annabelle – please no more!! I am a city gal pining for the country life and living vicariously through what I read here often……milk, cookies, Coco, blankie and lots of love – Annabelle will be just fine – I know I would!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  38. Julie says:

    How sweet!! What a lovely face!

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