Monday, June 11, 2012

Our Leader Sheep

Lara is an Icelandic sheep who has Leader Sheep lines. The Commander convinced me to give a few Icelandic sheep a try when we lost two of our Cascade sheep this Winter. The two additional Icelandic sheep would allow us to have a few lambs to help keep the place going until we replaced the lost Cascades.

My initial impression of the experiment was that it was a failure, the Icelandics proved to be just a tad bit too big to handle. Trimming hooves and giving shots became more of a struggle than we were used to. The Icelandic's were just big enough to increase the hay burn to an unacceptable level.

Lara is doing her best to change my mind. One day last month we had heavy rain. So heavy that the Commander went out and walked the fence line before letting the sheep and their lambs out to graze. Everything looked good so he let them out and took off to work. A few hours later I heard Lara back in the sheep barn area calling and calling. I went out to see what all the racket was about and as I got closer I noticed that Lara had collected ALL the lambs and the rest of the mothers were missing. I called for the rest of the girls and I heard them answer from down the path that lead to the road! I went and checked the fence line by the path and sure enough a tree had fallen across the line and all the ewes except for Lara had departed the pasture. Lara had somehow collected all the lambs, brought them back to the barn, and alerted me to the other ewes danger.

A few days later I had let the sheep into the goat pen to get control of the grass that was growing wild (why won't the goats eat the grass - spoiled rotten they are) and I noticed a few of the ram lambs starting to chase after Gidgets two tiny doe kids. As I ran to the gate to get the girls out of trouble I saw Lara step between the ram lambs and the kids and shake her head to break off the pursuit - she was protecting the goat kids!

I've continued to watch Lara and noticed that she always keeps an eye on the other ewes lambs, several times I have watched (and listened) as she reunited Zoe's twin black lambs with their mother after they had somehow gotten separated from her in the forest. So today I wasn't surprised to go outside and hear Lara calling me from the sheep barn area, so I headed over to see what was going on. As I got closer to the barn I began to hear a weak crying sound coming from inside the barn. When I went inside I found what I thought was one of Lara's twin ram lambs, Brighton, locked in a stall. He must have been there for some time as he was horse from crying out. I let him out and headed off, thinking that both he and Lara would be happy now that they were reunited. I was surprised to hear Lara keep calling out. When I turned to see what was going on I noticed that Lara was turned and calling to the forest are, she wasn't facing me at all. Finally, off in the distance, the other sheep began to answer and started to head our way. I took a closer look at the lamb and discovered that he wasn't Lara's black ram, he was Azalea's boy Bronson! It seems Lara had noticed Bronson missing from the flock, came back to the barn looking for him, and called me to rescue him. She had left her own two boys to find a lost lamb.

At this point Azalea was now crying in panic as she had finally discovered Bronson was missing. The flock came back to the barn from the wrong direction and needed me to open two fences for the reunion to commence. Everyone was baa'ing as loud as they could, lambs were screaming, the goats joined in as did the guineas, it was a full barnyard orchestra. In OFG's words, I was now the bad noisy neighbor. I opened the fences as quickly as possible to restore order, but I'm really impressed with Lara. There really must be something to these Leader Sheep - I may have to keep her around.


  1. She seems to me to be a real keeper. Who needs a guard dog or donkey to look after things?

  2. I used to agree that sheep were stupid animals...before I owned them. Ada, who isn't from leader sheep genes...collected all of the lambs that got loose last summer...they were getting too close to the road, so she just bullied her way through the fence and brought them back. The Icelandic's..even though they are a pain in the butt to handle...find ways to impress me all the time. Lara sounds like an amazing're so lucky to have her :)

  3. Nah.. that kind of loud is music to my ears! That Lara is a peach for sure... I sooooo covet your sheep! Our older does were like that with the baby goats... its awesome when you have a good herd matriarch. Debbie isnt queenly at all, Dahli is ridiculous.. and Nibs.. well. You know how she is. I don't think this project is a failure at all. I think you are working it out, baby. Great job!

  4. Ian - I'm starting to think that way.

    Stacy - The Icelandic and Cascade sheep are certainly not dumb, nor shy. As you know they don't flock, its more like they travel in a gang!

    OFG - Having a boss that does more than just "boss" is a blessing. I don't think the project is a failure, it was just different than I expected. I am now rethinking the situation.

  5. Isn't it neat how you learn as you go with the farm? And what's even better is that you are showing everyone else out on the net, so we all hopefully will learn. Thank you for sharing. Lara does sound like your helper! Such a good girl!

  6. Lynn - These animals teach me something new every day. Lara has proven to be a wonderful surprise, now I have to decide if I'm going to change my plans.

  7. Lara sounds amazing! I would definitely have to think twice, she sounds like she is worth her weight in gold...or extra hay as the case may be.

  8. Shannon - That is high praise from a sheep professional like yourself. Lara may have earned a place here!