Monday, June 14, 2010

A sheep by any other name

This is Elrond, named for his long ears but also because his mother was Esmerelda and it follows our alphabetic naming system. It's about the only systematic thing about our breeding regime, but somehow Esmerelda was mated to another Border Leicester, E52 - our shearer's ram - and produced this charming chap of pure BL ancestry.

SO actually played midwife to Elrond and his twin brother as they got a bit tangled up in the race to come out, Esme had mastitis and in the resulting stress of it all she didn't feed Elrond. So we did. For nearly 3 months. We kept him with the other sheep in the big lambing shed to help him learn he is a sheep and not a human but he still doubts this some days.

He had a bit of a rough time in the beginning, not having received any natural ewe's colostrum. We tried to make it up with some wonderful replacement stuff that experienced animal nurses use for orphaned mammals of all types, but in the end it's just not the same. Elrond contracted a virus, got a fever and had a temperature of over 38C for about 4 weeks! We kept him warm on cold nights by wrapping him in an old woollen blanket cut into pieces and tied with a piece of soft black elastic. He scoured so much we changed it about 4 times a day, even after his feeds in the middle of the night.

He's seen here on one of his rare standing-up days, a bit wobbly, but trying to play nonetheless. A lot of the time he was too weak to even stand up so we called him Mr Woogly which got shortened to Woogy. He still answers to it. Some days he could even run. Slowly he got stronger.

During the heatwave of last summer we had to keep him in a yard close to the house but it had no shade so we bought him a small marquee. He did his own renovations, making holes in the walls where he thought best so it's fly excluding capabilities were ruined but it kept him cool and out of the sun.

Eventually he got big enough to be weaned off his milk replacer, the best that could be got and - quite literally - worth it's weight in gold. He kept growing. He should have been dead but nobody told him that. He loves life too much. He still bounces around on all four feet at once like a pogo-lamb. He is now eight months old and bigger than the other lambs. Must have been all that money... err... special feeding he got. Of course, proper, real sheep farms need a pet wether like the proverbial hole in the helmet, so he has to earn his keep. His job is charming visitors and small children.

He lives with our other pet wether, the dwarf Gimli (surprise, surprise) in the ram yard and Pine Paddock. Wilberforce the ram will live with them for most of the year too. Bachelor pad. When they're not eating they sit around, telling stories, playing cards.

You may wonder why he looks at things sideways like that with his characteristic head tilt. He has to because he's not actually looking. He's listening. He is almost totally blind.

He knows his way quite well around his little paddock though so it will be his own as far as we're concerned, until he doesn't need it any more.