year of the sheep

The Chinese zodiac has different animals–rat, goat, rabbit, horse, and so forth. Different anniversary years are also associated with different items–china, silverware, gold, diamonds, etc.

For us, this year is the year of the sheep.  Baaa!

As I mentioned in my last post, we decided to get some sheep after having loaner sheep for 1.5 years.  The loaner sheep were here last June through January.  Loaner sheep came again in early May and they are still here. Only last night did we learn from N the Sheep Lady that we have the same four rams as last year–Richard, Vincent, James, and Long John–plus a new one–Lamakin.

Having sheep has been, overall, a positive experience. Ron has had to mow less, although the meadow this year is going absolutely nuts given the wet and cool weather. I think we could support over two dozen sheep this year if we had them. We got a half-lamb from N the Sheep Lady at the end of last fall. And the sheep provide a strange amount of entertainment.

But Ron does spend a decent amount of time tending and managing the sheep and they are not our sheep. Plus four sheep–even big males–really don’t work fast enough on our 3+ acres of meadow. Long story short, we decided to get some sheep of our own.

After doing some research, Ron decided that the Navajo Churo breed made good sense. They are very hardy sheep who can put up with difficult winters (read: Ithaca). Apparently the ewes are masters–nay, mistresses–of delivering lambs on their own with few troubles and they are good moms. Their wool is also nice. They are a heritage breed. And, sigh, their meat is unusually lean for lamb and mutton. Sigh.

Fortunately, a young woman farmer about 15 minutes from us has a small sheep farm and breeds Navajo Churos. We decided to get six from her and they all showed up this morning.

So, introducing…

Brownie and June Bug

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Brownie (the mom) was born last spring and this is her first lamb, born in June–hence June Bug or June for short.  Brownie was named Brownie’s Daughter (B.D.) by the Sheep Breeder for obvious reasons, but we didn’t love B.D. as a name so we renamed her Brownie. She’s a bit skittish and not super friendly, but we did put a bit of corn in a dish and she was interested in the dish after that first bribery experiment. We think she’ll warm up a bit once she gets settled in.

June Bug was born in June (sometime) so she’s less than two months old. She’s a little squirt, especially when compared to the rest of the flock, but she holds her own.  She’s still nursing and chases after Brownie–or at least Brownie’s udder.  She’s grazing and was happily munching grape leaves from the vines that are taking over our hedge rows. With sheep, maybe they won’t take them over so much.

Spot

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This is Spot the sheep. [giggle] It’s a little hard to see, but she has a big white spot on her noggin’. She’s very friendly and more social and relaxed than the rest of the flock. She doesn’t startle or run off as easily, and she seemed to like being petted, even by strangers. We think she’ll be the sheep-pet of the group. And it cracks me up. Spot the sheep. Like Spot the dog. Ha ha. Easily amused here…

Cinnamon

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I’m not 100% sure that this is a picture of Cinnamon. It may be a photo of Spot. Cinnamon and Spot are half-sisters. They have the same mum, but their dads are different. Cinnamon is more red-brown than the rest of the flock so she really stands out. Spot has a decent amount of red-brown in her coat, too, but her spot makes her, well, Spot. Cinnamon was the last sheep named. We were trying to come up with something red-ish–Rouge? Roja? Or a New Mexican name–Sandia? I was trying to think of crayola crayon names that are red-brown–thought of Terra, as in terra cotta–but then Ron suggested Cinnamon and that seemed just right. She is about the color of cinnamon.

Tandori and Tagine

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This is one of the two castrated boy sheep we got. Their names are, ahem, Tandori and Tagine. First, to explain their black humor names. Our sheep breeder told us that her former neighbor and co-sheep owner used to name his non-breeding male sheep, ahem, Chop, Roast, Tandori, and so forth because they were “destined for the freezer.”  [Ahh, euphemism.]  I thought Tandori was particularly cute, maybe because it makes their meat destiny a little less direct. Pretty quickly Tagine popped into my head since it’s a delicious North African meat stew, often made with lamb.

We’re not sure which male sheep is Tandori and which one is Tagine. We can already tell them apart. One is smaller (he was a twin), but has bigger horns. The other is bigger (he was a solo lamb) and has smaller horns. But we don’t know which name is better for which sheep, but maybe it’s better if it’s ambiguous and if they have more of a collective name.

The flock

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You can see everyone (sort of) in this photo. Spot, of course, stands out. She always will. Cinnamon is next to her in the middle. Brownie is the sheared one with June Bug standing near by on the left side of the photo. Perhaps it’s appropriate that the boys are on either end and they are impossible to identify and distinguish here.

Next sheep posts: our sheep mutual aid society, and on finances, logistics, and sentimentality.

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One Response to year of the sheep

  1. Lisa Kozleski says:

    Welcome sweet sheep!! SO EXCITING!

    [Lethbridge College]Lisa Kozleski
    Senior writer and editor
    Lethbridge College
    Lisa.kozleski@lethbridgecollege.ca
    403-320-3202 X5778

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