Lauder Lass may well be the Matriarchal mare of her surrounding horses but she is clearly not the Matriarchal mare of the herd of animals that are surrounding her. The Matriarchal mare of all our animals is in fact Lambie, a 17 year old, two and a half foot tall, Suffolk Cross sheep. As always, and like many others, we experience some amazing behaviour with our animals, some of which is shared on this Blog. But this particular post is all to do with our wonderful Lambie.
Lambie, as mentioned is 17 years of age, that’s a pretty good age for a pet sheep. Although a little more frail than she used to be, she still knows the set up in the yard, she makes sure we put the right food in to the right buckets, she knows she gets her breakfast first, she has full control over the dogs and horses knowing fine they will back off as soon as she comes any where near. With her being at the longer end of the ageing scale she sometimes takes a bit longer to get motivated, like any ageing person or animal really. Well according to the horses the other day she had been sitting down for too long, so they all formed a circle around her, Charlie Barney, who has known her for the longest, was first to go and sniff her and to give her a wee nudge, well, she looked at him as if to say, just hold on, let me get my self together, I was having a lovely nap there . . did you really have to come and disturb me!
However, with the exact circle having been created we walked up to check she was okay. When you are used to being outside as often as we are, you can sense when the weather is changing and this was one of those moments, so we decided to bring our two eldest sheep in, Freddie and Lambie. Well Freddie came to us when he was about 3 where as Lambie we have had since she was a matter of days old and every minute has been a joy to share with her.
And now a little history on our adorable Lambie –
For all the years we have had her and her antics which include cheek, boisterousness, wit and extremely wisely ways, she has been a poppet and such a gentle soul to have around. It was only a couple of years ago that she chose not to join us for a ride with the horses or to go for a walk with the dogs to post a letter, perhaps like humans, as we age, they know their limitations! But guaranteed she always knows, even at the ripe old age of 17, how to get in to a food cupboard or feed room and preferably before you, with a wee head butt along the way as if to say ‘excuse me I’m first’!
It’s often said that in a herd of horses there is always a matriarchal mare, well in our herd of horses, although in certain instances Lauder Lass is now our Matriarchal mare (having learnt and followed on from Didget Doo of course) but now, in our herd of animals, it is not a horse, a dog or indeed a goose that is in charge but Lambie, our 17 year old sheep. Even the tallest of horses at 16’2 respects this 6 hand sheep! or our black roman nosed Suffolk cross a.k.a Lambie who was brought up on goats milk, lamb food, rich tea biscuits, mints, scratches and a rub on her belly or under her chin.
As often happens with sheep as they age, their fleece becomes non waterproof, so this winter Lambie has been coming in most nights and self chose to share a stable with Lauder Lass, Greedy our younger sheep chooses to share another stable and Freddie another, so all have their place, their own chosen place to rest, sleep and drink.
Of late, like us as with age, Lambie has become slower on her feet, but her eyes and stomach still rule, so feed times she returns to being a spring lamb, until she realises ‘ooops I turned too fast’ and has a wee trip but she soon bounces back. Given her chance she would help herself to all the others breakfasts and teas and can often be seen pacing almost as if to say ‘come on I’ve finished mine, I want in, I know they haven’t finished – I want the lix!’
After breakfast she will assess the weather at the top of the ramp and if sunny she might just venture out, if damp at all, it’s about turn and I’m going in – some say sheep are daft, we say absolutely not. They sense the weather, they sense food, they sense rich tea biscuits and mints a mile away! and they are one of the best weather predictors ever!
Lauder Lass waits with Lambie in a morning while we mix up breakfast, however Lauder Lass can’t get through the gate but Lambie can, so in and out she goes, almost impatiently, until her breakfast is placed in the place she likes best. However, in between pacing she waits along side Lauder Lass, who if she wishes to move, will reverse first to go round Lambie rather than bull doze through her, we suspect Lauder Lass knows that Lambie is more fragile or is of an age to be respectful towards, and this is the form of respect that all the animals have of Lambie including visiting dogs and horses who have never met her before – it’s a language that all animals seem to understand and we’d like to call it ‘universal understanding or universal language‘
However, sadly Lambie is getting stiffer, although once up she is fine and she manages to meander around quite the thing, especially if it is for food, but rougher ground is more difficult and tiresome so for fairness she has her stable, filled with shavings, and the yard as well as the feed room to domineer, bless her, on top of this she is taken for accompanied small walks on softer ground.
Eating isn’t a problem and her mind seems okay but her body is saying, ‘I am tired now and struggling to cope to get up without that little nudge or a wee heave’. So it is with great sadness on our part to say that our faithful lambie will be released from her stiffness over the next couple of days along with her faithful elderly partner Freddie.
Lambie, you have been a joy to have, to walk, to care for and a kinder more gentle sheep we could never ever have asked for, thank you for the last 17 years. You have taught many people that sheep can be tame, kind, considerate and extremely intelligent just as you have taught many a dog NOT to chase sheep!
Lambie and Freddie Lauder Lass will miss you both just as much as we will.