Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Predator/Prey

My cats are skilled, enthusiastic hunters. Ken's Pomeranian, Leeloo, loves to chase, wrestle, and play rough with cats and other animals that are about her size.

So I was a little nervous about how our littlest lambs would hold up to any unwanted attention they might get, now that I've let the sheep out to graze in the yard. Leeloo is no longer let out unsupervised, and I always keep my ears open for any cries from distressed lambs.

But it turns out I've got the whole thing backwards. The lambs have made a great game out of cat chasing. Even the tiniest ones will go out of their way to gleefully attack the cats and chase them all over the yard. When the whole stampeding herd of lambs gets chasing a cat, you can hear the thundering hooves from the other side of the yard.

Leeloo, being about the same size as a large cat, holds about as much intimidation for the lambs. She would dearly love to play chase-and-wrestle with them, but only on her terms. When they come after her she gets scared and runs with her tail tucked under.

And rightly so, because while the grown ewes humor the lambs in the cat chasing, they get quite angry at Leeloo being near their lambs. They surround her and make every effort to beat the crap out of her.

The poor dog can't even go out to go potty in peace anymore. Someone has to go with her, partially as a chaperon so she doesn't chase the lambs, and partially as a body guard, so the ewes don't stomp her into a pancake.

After seeing all this, somehow, I'm not so worried about foxes coming into the pasture and stealing young lambs anymore. I get the impression that any fox that tried would end up being sorry.

Of course, the sheep still couldn't stand up to a large dog or a coyote, but I like it that they're fierce, self-sufficient Viking sheep, who---within reason---are able to look out for themselves.

2 comments:

Rhea said...

You do have fierce, self-sufficient Viking sheep! Goodness. I'm cracking up at the thought of a herd of lambs chasing a kitty cat or Leelo. Oh my goodness that's funny. Your stories are fabulous!

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Unfortunately the foxes are sneakier than Leelo probably is but we have our watchful ewes too.
My jack russell Maggie, like Leelo, also has to watch it ---my Langidalur ewe will come half way across the pasture just to kick chicken butt, so imagine how much trouble the dog gets into!
Monica