Saturday, February 23, 2008


The new sheep's two-week quarantine was over today, so we decided to mix them in with the other sheep. Meaning: Separating the new ewes from the new rams, letting the new ewes out into the yard with the other ewes, and then bringing our old rams back into the paddock where the new rams were.

Icelandic sheep are not docile, meek animals. And the new sheep have not yet learned to come when I call. So it was something of an ordeal to get all the sheep sorted to where they were supposed to go. But we finally managed it.

The new ewes greeted the old ewes briefly, then took off in a very deliberate circumnavigation of the yard, to see where the borders were. Pausing only to gaze eagerly out through the fences at the vistas of our sloping pastures, they worked their way around the whole yard, examining everything. Only when they'd familiarized themselves with every nook and cranny did they come back and start really interacting with the other sheep.

By that time the sun was starting to set, and it sloped in across the yard, gilding every sheep with a halo of light.

Meanwhile, in the ram paddock, the rams were contesting to decide who was the biggest, toughest, manliest ram of all.

There's no question that Preston is the biggest. Before I got him, my friend Monica at Small Meadow Farm told me that she had seen him before, and he was the biggest Icelandic sheep she had ever seen. Then, when he arrived, I could tell that he was big. Now, seeing him at last, side-by-side with my other rams, I agree that he is HUGE.

He instantly fell in love with Taj, and chased him all over the paddock, trying to mount him (and crushing Taj to the ground beneath his weight at least once). The other young rams Preston butted out of his way like tumbling bowling pins, as he passed by pursuing Taj.

Taj is a normal-sized one-winter ram. He'll still grow quite a bit in the next year or two, but he's not a particularly small sheep. See how huge Preston is next to him?

Nicholai decided he'd had enough of this strange giant barging onto his turf and pushing around all of his young friends. He decided to make it his mission to let Preston know who was King of the Flock, right here, right now.

There was a lot of pushing and shoving. Mainly Preston was trying to ignore Nicholai and keep pursuing Taj. But after Nicholai repeatedly butted him in the rear, Preston finally had to stop and pay attention.

Preston might far outweigh Nicholai, but Nicholai has the advantage of being armed with a heavy crown of horns and a calm confidence that he is indeed King. Plus Preston was already out of breath from chasing Taj all over the place.

Before long, Preston had been shown the error of his ways, and acknowledged Nicholai as boss. A few minutes later, peace returned to the paddock, and all the boys fell to eating hay together as if they had known each other all their lives.

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