I have never had the pleasure of looking after sheep until these four ladies arrived. Goats yes, but never woolly creatures on spindly legs. So our first meeting was a revelation, in so many ways. I learned from day one that you cannot get a sheep to do what you want, you can however figure out a way to get there by doing it their way. Asking kindly might get you a surprised look but you won't get anything done. By figuring out what a sheep likes to eat, you will get a rapport and things will start to happen. Not always as you planned it, mind you, but at least something can be done.
It's hard to understand sheep at times. They are nervy but yet stubborn as donkeys. When Molly plunks herself in the middle of the stable door a small truck could not move her. At other times she can fly off in full pelt down the field because she met a seagull.
When Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My arrived they were extremely wary of us and probably very homesick. They had been inside an electric fence and that's understandable if you live in a village that has a busy main road. As we live in the middle of a bit past nowhere no such fence is needed. It took us two whole months to show the sheep-gang that it's fine to jump over a low fence, get some goodies, jump back in to the paddock and get more bread. Molly was the first sheep to understand that it's okay to go out and explore as long as you come back when someone calls your name. Once Molly felt comfortable leaving the yard, the rest of the gang followed her lead. Soon we did not see them for dust but they always came over to check on us at some point during the day. They behaved like Robin Hood and his merry men; you never knew where they would pop up.
Now the nice fenced in field stands empty and the grass is cut by machine. Robin and the merry ones are busy going where no sheep have gone before, sometimes followed by hens who already know where they going. It looks wild to say the least but they return home in the evenings. Our four ladies sleep indoors. And they like a lot of hay before turning in for the night. So after 5pm you can hear them calling for some service, thank you! And as I am well trained, I jump to the call.
I now know that goats are wonderful and full of mischief where as sheep are wonderful, full stop. And the landscape takes on a look of the Finnish archipelago, where nothing grows very tall or bushy. Four sheep eat a lot in one day and so they should.
Text by Nina
A blog about a small holding in Southern Finland. Each original story is accompanied by a stunning watercolour illustration or resplendent photographs.