Wednesday, August 1, 2018

One Brain Cell

The ram lambs often move as a collective clump.

At four months of age, the ram lambs are separated from the flock and enter their state of bachelorhood. They live in a separate pasture, and graze, ruminate and sleep together.

The time spent on sheep care goes up.

Not only do we have to ensure the ram lambs are getting plenty of food and water, we also must deal with their erratic behavior.

For the most part, the flock of ewes and ewe lambs behave in a predictable manner. The lead ewe, often an older, wiser animal, makes the decisions about when the flock goes to pasture, when it worries about people, when it sleeps, and when it runs.

The ram lambs have no leader. Instead, they act as a collective clump that often makes bad decisions.

Sometimes they startle at the sight of a dog and go sprinting across the field. Sometimes they sprint, just because. Sometimes the group splits, and they stand in a state of wonder. How will they ever get back together?

The Border collies and I must practice lots of patience.

Tonight, when moving the ram lambs to another pasture, three lambs decided to dart into the waterway. Were they older ewes, I would have sent the dog to reunite the flock. Doing that with ram lambs may have sent the three on a suicide mission into the fence. So, I asked the dog to lie down and wait as the one-brain-celled group figured out how to reunite with the others.

Eventually they did.

But will they remember this lesson tomorrow?

I'm not counting on it.

The Border collies learn to keep their distance and to move slowly around ram lambs.

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