For the past 20 years I've kept sheep but today I am sheepless. It's difficult to write about the end of my flock but the truth is, this is a happy story.
Wait, before I go any further, I still have Angora goats and a lone Angora rabbit. Thank goodness.
Though I'm still feeling disoriented when I'm in the barn. That feeling of standing in a room and forgetting what you've come for.
When I first started out with sheep I had several years of animal husbandry under my belt. I'd completed my degree in Animal Science. I'd been driving tractors, birthing calves, tossing hay bales. The whole bit. I'd worked in wildlife rehabilitation and with exotic animals as well. I'd proven to myself that I could farm but my real interest was in something a little bit different. I started a flock with the understanding that no animals would be sold nor destroyed as a product. Which leads me to this post after many years of keeping an ever-aging collection of sheep.
So maybe what I've been doing all this time is not really farming at all. Call it what you will.
There is something very special in knowing a group of animals over what has been, quite literally, a lifetime. Knowing them individually. Knowing their habits, their alliances and their discrepancies. I have watched the colour of their wool, the way that they move about, even the expressions on their faces change over the years.
In the end I couldn't really have asked for better. I had wondered what to expect.
Their decline was gradual, stoic and graceful. As arthritis set into their joints and when comfort and quality declined we intervened. Along with the amazing empathy and kindness of our provincial agricultural vets decisions were made that, however qualified, are never easy.
But maybe the best way for me to say all that needs to be said is to add this note;
something that I wrote five years ago, in October of 2011...
My sheep are getting old. They are contented. They are trusting. They've never been
threatened, cold, wet or hungry. They have never been sorted through and selected to be sold or to be marketed. They have never been separated from one another or from their young.
They have come and, for years, they have stayed. A comfortable little group.
Not conventional, I know, but it fits me and I think it fits them as well.
5/19/2016 09:36:00 am
Ah, the end of an era. What very lucky sheep they all were. I can imagine how unsettling it must be for you to be in a sheepless barn. I'm hoping to have my 2 back in my hands by the end of June. I've missed them so!
5/20/2016 12:40:45 pm
Claire. I know that you understand.Exactly.
5/19/2016 09:40:05 am
Awwwww... I was born and raised on a dairy farm, and we also had about 20 sheep. They were used for wool and blankets, and Dad took care of keeping the flock to a size that the sheep barn could accommodate. We loved spring lambs, but we never were permitted to become too attached. But we loved them.
5/20/2016 12:41:52 pm
Yes, beautiful memories, indeed.
5/19/2016 09:51:35 am
Beautiful post. Now onto the next chapter of the story that is your life!
5/20/2016 12:42:57 pm
Thanks Willi, it's an adventure, for sure!
5/19/2016 10:01:35 am
An amazing journey. Thank you for sharing something so special!
5/19/2016 10:10:17 am
Love a good sheep story. I ,too, was born and raised on a sheep farm. We farmed about 1200 acres, milked 35 cows and raised Registered Horned and Polled Dorset sheep. We had a flock of about 150 ewes. I was the first in my family to go to college. Wanted to go to Penn State but we were not able to handle the out-of-state tuition. So, Ohio State was my next choice and it was close to home.
5/20/2016 12:44:02 pm
5/19/2016 05:41:24 pm
Sweet. I love them too.
5/22/2016 01:48:41 pm
A beautiful post and stunning photos!
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