To be an (in)experienced sheep(ish) farmgirl

When we bought the farm, I decided to sell the cattle. I was not too fond of the size and smell of their droppings. So on arrival at the farm, I turned all my attention wholeheartedly to the sheep. It was spring, and seeing the ewes giving birth to new pure-white little lambs was a wonderful experience. Not that they stayed that way: the Dorpers still roamed the neighbouring farms, despite our shiny new fences. Every afternoon our beautiful and boisterous young German Shepherd, Emma, enthusiastically helped to gather the sheep in the kraal.

One evening we heard the call of two jackals very close to our house. We were elated to be so close to nature. We could see them clearly on the dam wall nearby. But what had previously been a treat suddenly became a serious threat. It was not long before we found the first killing. After studying the sheep’s wounds, we concluded that it was the jackals. We ceremonially buried the poor sheep.

Apart from losing our sheep to their ‘wanderlust,’ we now lost them to hungry jackal hunters. It took six dead sheep and excellent detective work before realizing that the culprit was our dear Emma. In her excitement to gather the sheep, she bit one. The taste of blood was too difficult to resist. Since dogs do not ‘unlearn’ sheep hunting as quickly as they learn to crave sheep blood, we had to donate her to the police. I cried my eyes out.

Emma the sheep-hunter

Sheep farming is not for the faint-hearted. I loved the little lambs and castration, and tail docking was not my favorite job. I also found pushing back a uterus after birth a daunting task, especially since the ewe was dead the following morning. We had problems with sneezing, coughing, worms, ticks, and a whole list more during winter. One morning I found our fat little bottle-fed lamb eating my potatoes in the kitchen.  Despite being a psychologist, I realized that I did not understand sheep.

It was easier to find the cattle since they were more prominent. And apparently, the droppings are good fertilizer for the grass.

So we sold the sheep.

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