Over the past few years, from time to time, our customers have said...”is that a sheep I can hear?”
Well, yes is the answer.
Approximately 10 years ago, our neighbour farmer asked us if we would like a lamb. My late husband John thought he meant for the freezer! But no, it was a tiny lamb that his mother had rejected. So I collected him, named him Joey and home he came to be bottle fed and raised by us.
Joey spent the first few months of his life under a heat lamp at night and frolicking around during the day, always excited to us, especially if we were carrying his milk bottle.
I felt sad that he didn’t have any other sheep for company so a friend told me that a farmer friend of hers would be at Exeter market and he had an orphan lamb I could have. I was to arrive once the sales had finished and the lamb would be waiting. I walked into the empty pen area and way over in the corner, I could hear a tiny lamb calling. There were a couple of workers hosing down the pens after a long days sales and told me to just go and get him. I picked up this scared little black faced chap and bundled him into the back of the car and so Lenny came to live with us and Joey.
Joey was a Poll Dorset cross who was very feisty!!! Lenny was a Suffolk cross who was really handsome. Over the next couple of years I collected 2 more orphan lambs, this time ewes, Texel crosses, Daisy and Lily. Lenny became the leader of the pack and could get quite nasty if a stranger tried to do anything with them!! A friend tried to collect them one day for shearing when I wasn’t at home and Lenny was having none of it. He chased the poor chap down the paddock rolling him over and head butting him which resulted in a lot of cuts and bruises. Although, obviously not nice at the time for our friend, we have had a lot of laughs about it since!
I have had a few more lambs since then, Ronnie, another Suffolk cross, and two more Texel crosses Rosy and Poppy. Sadly over time we have lost Joey, Lenny and Ronnie and just this year during lockdown we lost our dear Rosy who had always thought she was a dog and followed us around looking for cuddles, kisses and food!
Our girls spend their time eating whatever they can find in the paddocks and up our drive. At night they come into their shed and yard for sheep nuts and haylage. As soon as it begins to get dusk or if it starts to rain, they shout for us to bring them in! And if its raining in the mornings there is no way they are coming out! They just look at us from their warm straw beds saying “Nope! No way are we coming out in this weather!”
The dogs in the kennels soon get used to seeing them when they pass the kennels in the mornings and evenings and out in the paddocks when we are walking the dogs. My dogs get introduced to them at a very early age so I can relax if we ever see sheep when we’re out walking.
Although, mine always go on their leads if we are near any livestock when we are out and about.
I’ve always wanted sheep and these guys have taught me so much. Sheep are certainly not daft. In fact they are quite intelligent. They recognie us, don’t like strangers and know their names.
The girls are getting old now and I’m not sure how much longer we will have their company for, but rest assured, they will be loved, cared for and pampered right to the end.
Stay safe everyone.