Sunday, February 17, 2013

Meet the flock - Yearling Politics

About a month ago, we separated the unbred yearlings from the bred ewes, who are now in their third trimester of pregnancy. The ewes are lumbering about like intemperate leviathans and the yearlings want to bounce and play. They also need different levels and types of feed at this stage.

Hailey wants Hester to follow them up to the woods. Camera-shy herd boss Hannah said they had to go.
So, the five little girls went to live in the pen between their moms and the old boys (Dapper Dan, Mouse and Bones share a pen). Hester spent two weeks improving our fence building skills, as she insisted that she needed to be back with her mommy. But we got the over and under spots fixed. Their pen is just outside the kitchen window, so I can watch them in the mornings as it gets light, and in the evenings as I fix dinner. It's been interesting watching them develop their independence and own flock pecking order.

Sometimes you can look to one ram's get as being more dominant than others, but in this small a sample, that doesn't stand out. Higgs and Hailey are both by Mona's ram; Hanna and Heather are by Dapper Dan; and Hester is Boomer's first lamb.

Higgs knows she's perfectly wonderful.
I thought Higgs would be boss, but, she declined the dubious honor. Higgs is, after all, a Higgs, she is not really a sheep, just ask her. The youngest of Elizabeth's triplets of 2012, Higgs has made her own way all her life. She loves her mommy and would still sleep with her if she could, but would nurse off any ewe as a baby and is the expert in conning treats from people. Higgs just takes care of herself, outside of the little flock's politics.
Hanna is the boss of the yearling pen.
The oldest yearling took the leadership role. Hannah is a total surprise. Most young sheep take their mother's status. Hannah's mother, Nilly, has no status. She is ignored by the flock and has to be fed separately to get any food. Nilly's other lambs have been outside of the regular sheepie politics, but Hannah developed self-assurance and status all on her own this past fall. She is a pretty, square built, four-horned ewe, who looks like she will be a good addition to the flock.
Heather looks just like her sis, Greta.
Next is Heather. She's very shy and has always clung to the skirts of her mum, Basil, and her older sis, Greta. But over the last few weeks, she's learned to stand up for herself at the feed pans. She is willing to stake out her own turf over dinner, but is happy to follow Hannah's lead for when to go up into the woods or go see the older ewes.
Hester is Boomer and Finesse's lamb
Hester and Hailey share the bottom of the flock. After a month, they are just beginning to settle down and eat next to the other three. They did buddy-up pretty early on, so that has made the transition easier for them. Hester will probably have status in the flock as she gets older. Her mother, Finesse, is high-ranking for as young as she is and her grandmother, Thyme, still has the respect of the other ewes. But Hester is the youngest yearling and very much a mommy's girl.

Hester and Hailey have buddied-up.
Hailey is Frannie's daughter. Frannie was low-ranking. We sold her this summer as part of the drought sell-down. Hailey was old enough to be on her own, food-wise, but sheep really are attached to their families and she has not thrived. Now that she's connected with Hester, she seems to be doing much better.

Who needs a television when you can watch sheepy politics?

1 comment:

xXHelenaHandbasketXx said...

Very nice blog post. I enjoyed learning about the group dynamics. So very important to keep a compatible flock. Less stress... better production. Good looking stock!!!