Tuesday, October 27, 2009


When I opened the door this morning and stepped into the windy autumn garden, I saw two sheep there: an ebony lamb and a steel-gray ram. I sat down to put on my “going-out-to-feed-the-sheep” shoes, while Dierdre, our dog, stood nearby eyeing the two ovine grazers. As I stood up, the lamb bolted out of the garden, followed closely by Dierdre. The ram, Humphrey, looked at me indecisively. I began wondering if something was wrong just as Humphrey, and the garden gate, moved. The gate was attached to the sheep – he had put his hoof through the mesh, and the wire was twisted tightly around his back leg above the hock.

Oh, bother. How do sheep get into these situations?

Dierdre and I reached Humphrey at the same time. She motivates sheep to extricate themselves from adverse situations by nipping at them. The sheep dislike it, but the method often works. However, canine problem solving was not appropriate in this case; her attempts only made things worse. I told her to stay away, at the same time calming down Humphrey who was pretty spooked. Dierdre trembled with suppressed “helpful” energy but kept her distance. Humphrey struggled a bit but then seemed to realize I was trying to help and stood still. I pulled and pushed, twisted and untwisted, and, just as I had about decided to go find some wire cutters, the wire slipped below his hock and off his leg. Now free, Humphrey stood quietly, waiting for a scratch behind the ears, and then ambled off, apparently none the worse for wear, to rejoin the other sheep.

Some mornings are definitely more interesting than others.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I sheared Sierra on Friday. I can't believe how well she behaved. She was reluctant to walk to the shearing stand, but I stopped and scratched her nose after every few steps, so she didn't fight me. She was a little fidgety during shearing but, again, not bad. She kept wagging her tail while I was trying to shear it -- not good. It's very difficult to safely trim a moving target! But everything went fine, and now she's a shiny white sheep, cool as a cucumber. I think she's rather pleased.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I've thought of a lot of ways of making money with my sheep, but having a sheep model isn't one of them. After seeing these pictures of Sierra, though, I think I may need to consider it! Can't you just see her gliding down a fashion runway?

Photos courtesy of John Wise, http://www.johnwise.com.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sheep and Wool Visit

A group of handspinners from Sun City (near Phoenix) visited High Castle Ranch last month to meet the sheep and to buy some wool. These are a few pictures taken by one of my visitors.

Below, Sierra is nursing her lamb. When he gets a little bigger, he'll have to kneel to reach the milk!

Bernhardt is certainly the image of the classic Cotswold. Just look at that wool.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Sheep-Filled Welcome

I went to Phoenix yesterday. I left about 8:30 a.m. and got home pretty late, after 10:00 p.m. As I was going up the driveway when I got home, I saw a sheep, no, two, on my left. I thought "Oh, no, they've broken through the fence again." This happens from time to time, and I find them dispersed around the property, grazing.

But then I saw another sheep, Bernhardt, casually laying near our parked second car. I drove up to the house and was taken aback. There were a dozen sheep, plus lambs, lounging around the front porch, some laying down, others calmly standing. What were they all doing here?

I parked and got out. A couple sheep baa-ed in welcome, others rose to their feet and stretched, and Heloise's lamb started nursing. I loooked around in the dark and saw that pretty much the entire flock was nearby. It was the strangest thing.

I went into the house, changed clothes, and went out the downstairs door. There was one sheep in sight. I called to them and received a few answering baas. I clapped my hands and called again, and a few sheep came trotting down the hill from the front of the house. Another call from me, and the entire flock was suddenly at my heels. They excitedly followed me to the barn; I opened the gate, fed the sheep, repaired the area where they had escaped, counted sheep to make sure everyone had returned, and left them happily munching their hay.

Of all the places to decide to hang out, why the front porch? It was really cute and quite funny, but I'm still saying "huh?".

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wow, That's a Lot of Snow

An impressive snow storm came through Monday afternoon and evening. I haven't seen official snowfall totals, but we received at least 6".

Cotswold sheep love the cold, but they don't like rain and snow. They were quite put out. Everyone stayed crowded in the barn for two days -- what a mess. Now that the sheep are going out again, they are churning up the snow, which is melting, and the resulting mud is about 4" deep. It practically pulls off my boots when I step in it. I tried putting flakes of hay in the midst of nice, unmarked fields of snow, but the sheep don't want to wade out too far; they really sink. So, I put the hay flakes on clean snow right next to where they've already walked, so they can easily reach it while still standing in shallow snow or mud.

We had another lamb born on Friday -- a little black ewe with white tips on her ears. We've named her Lavender.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lambs Really Do Bounce

During the last three weeks, we've been inundated with lambs. We have six now -- four girls and two boys. It is amazing how fast they grow and how quickly they move from that fragile, newborn state to stout little bundles of energy. The oldest lamb, Salty, was bouncing (literally) at four days old.

Another youngster, Basil, who is now four days old himself, chased a hen this morning. He didn't just walk, trot, or run after the chicken, instead he bounced! His mother and two other sheep were grouped together eating hay. The hen and Basil went round and round them, the hen running, Basil bouncing. (I'm laughing just remembering it.) The chagrined hen finally stopped circling and ran towards another hen; next thing I knew, Basil was bouncing after two chickens.

We're using herbs and spices (and salt) as the theme for this year's names for the lambs. We now have Salty, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Parsley, Basil, and Coriander.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

St. Paul the Hermit, Patron Saint of Weavers

Did you know there are more than a dozen patron saints of weaving? There are, and today happens to be the feast day St. Paul the Hermit, patron saint of weavers and the clothing industry.

Born about 230 at Lower Thebes, Egypt, he grew up in a Christian family. His parents died when he was 15, and a few years later, he fled into the desert to escape money-seeking relatives. He lived as a hermit in the desert for the rest of his long life (tradition has that he lived to the age of 113). He lived on bread (supplied by a raven), fruit, and water. He wore leaves or nothing at all. His biography was written by St. Jerome.

Considering his apparel (when he wore any) was leaves, I'm really not sure how he became the patron saint of weavers and the clothing industry....