Yesterday, our Registered Shetland Ram, Lincoln, headed off to greener pastures at Millstone Farm in Wilton, Connecticut to sire their Shetland flock for the next however many years he has in his life. Their caretaker & flockmaster contacted me last fall to enquire about Lincoln after a Google-search, and so it was quite a stroke of providence for both of us to come together to place our special guy in a new and perfect home.
I don’t like to just send our sheep out into the world willy-nilly, and a good fit is hard to come by sometimes. Lincoln couldn’t be in better hands.
The evening before, we’d brought the Boy Band into the paddock and my team of Char & Maggie helped me to vaccinate each one of them for the year, readying them for turnout yesterday into some delicious and long-awaited grazing. Lincoln got ready for the road as well, and, Shetland rams being as they are, added a little snazz to his outfit with barn red paint embellishments on his horns where he’d decided to smack into the building all evening. No broken doors, luckily, and he was quite subdued as a passenger, I am told.
Our experience is that you don’t want to house Shetland rams for too long. They have a thing about ramming into stuff and breaking it. We have a few holes in the barn as testimony. In a pasture with any type of standing structure, they love to blow off testosterone by butting into it. Our little pasture sheds have suffered from rams’ using them as football sleds.
Johnny and I did a little barter before he headed south with Lincoln – he’d brought me a CSA share from their farm and we negotiated a fair trade off the asking price for Lincoln. Beautiful greens and fresh Shiitake mushrooms to nourish my family. It’d been such a greens-drought all winter and our garden is not producing quite yet, except for foraging for wild ramps.
As soon as Lincoln pulled out of the driveway, Char & I gathered up the Boy Band and ran them out to pasture. (Click here to watch the video!) They dove in, face first, not one of them thinking about going the wrong way. We had even gathered up Mister K & Peter Pan from the round pen where they’d been housing with the Cruise Ships. The front pasture, so lush, is filled with the boys of summer, bells tinkling, jostling a bit to establish a new hierarchy, restoring their bods with goodness from the ground.
I cannot say there is nothing so satisfying as sitting in the field with them, the sight of them grazing, so driven for nourishment and receiving it. I cannot say that because it is similarly rewarding to sit with the mamas and babies in the stalls, enjoying the antics, seeing the mamas resting and chewing their cud after they’ve been well cared for and their babies settle into fluffy rounds with full bellies from nursing. Also, how wonderfully fulfilling to open the gate on the poultry-run every morning to let the girls run out and hunt for bugs and grasses, stretching their legs and wings as they canvas the farm all day long. Or give a big ole Cotswold a chin scratch and have her lean up against you to snuggle.
I can say, though, that it is a magical feeling to sink into the soft, long grass of the field and listen to nothing but bird song, the rhythm of grazing muzzles tearing fresh forage, forward moving, head down and the gentle ringing of sheep bells. The smell is the best perfume: sweet blossoms just starting to emerge, the wet grasses of the pasture, residual wool & lanolin on your hands and garments from working with the flocks.
On the farm, you’re in it for the good and the bad. When it’s good, it’s pretty close to heaven on earth.
I have never felt like my flocks ask too much of me. I never could; they give back so well.