Tuesday, October 7, 2008

trouble, thy name is hermione

Hermione the ewe lamb was Secondo's tenth birthday present from my parents. (I know the vast majority of kids don't get livestock for birthday gifts. Then again, the vast majority of kids don't live on sheep farms.) Secondo has showered love and attention on Hermione since she arrived with her mom Elicia and twin sister Henrietta in May. All his work has resulted in a very tame little ewe that he adores.


But she has been responsible for more than a few grey hairs on my head in the last week alone. It started with her confinement in the barn last week, waiting for her vet inspection to get a clean bill of health before she went to the sheep festival with her sister. See that gated area at the back?


That is our creep pen, which is used for young lambs, to provide a place for them to eat without their mothers gobbling up all the food. (They can get in and out easily; their moms cannot, which is responsible for a fair amount of frustration on the part of the moms.) Hermione managed to squeeze herself into the pen, even though there was no food or other enticement in the creep, and then could not get back out until the boys took off one of the slats. Grrr.

At the show, she was reasonably well-behaved until we took her twin sister out of the display pen for a quick trip to the show arena. Hermione promptly went nuts. Sheep have a strong flocking instinct and get very stressed if they are alone... but I have never seen one react so dramatically. She nearly climbed out of the pen. Fearing she would hurt herself, I quickly took her to her sister. But she was feeling low the rest of the afternoon. I worried and fretted over her as she lay at the back of the pen, ears droopy and eyes half closed, refusing to eat or chew her cud. I dosed her with sheep vitamins, fretted a little more, and then had to leave for a wedding reception. But my dreams were a torment, and I woke up with a start at 5:53 am, convinced she had died during the night. Of course, she was fine, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when we got there. I think she had stressed herself so thoroughly the previous day that it took her a few hours, and the quiet of an empty fairground, to recover. Grrrrrr.

Yesterday afternoon, as I strolled over to the barn with a couple of friends to check on the barn kittens, my heart nearly stopped. There was Hermione, lying motionless in her pasture, tangled in net fencing. The fencing had been folded and draped over the permanent fence, at least 4 feet up in the air, and there was no reason for her to touch it -- except for, apparently, a death wish. Unbelievably, she was still alive. I think she had given up struggling and was waiting for someone to find her. It was fairly unusual behavior, because usually the sheep holler if they find themselves in a jam; she wasn't making a sound. I don't know how she pulled it down or how long she had been there since I had fed her that morning, but she was so thoroughly entangled that I had to cut her out, and ended up ruining $200 worth of portable fencing. Grrrrrrrrrrr.


She somewhat made up for all these antics with her performance in the show ring on Sunday. For the entire summer Secondo has shown her, she was sent to the bottom of her class because she was on the small side. (She was not born until mid-April, and was competing against January lambs.) But Sunday was her chance to shine. She was named best long wool ewe lamb and then champion long wool ewe, and awarded best long wool fleece.*


But her first act after being released into the pasture upon her return to the farm? She wriggled out of the loose back gate and started prancing near the ram's pen. I have a feeling her teenage year is going to be a rough one.

*After all that work and hardship all summer long, Secondo wasn't even the one showing her this past weekend, as he had a soccer game.


  1. Sounds like she's... umm... "precocious". Yeah. That's it. ;) At least she showed well this weekend!

  2. : )

    nice clean animals!! I think mine need make-over : ). Can I wash them?