Photo by Bonnie Block
She is an old ewe…almost 14 years…Jan 20th to be exact. She has a registered name of Bispham B 100 but her real name is "Granny" I got her in 2002 from Allen Iseminger.
Granny is all attitude and quick to let you know if you are slow in serving her. She has a hard time getting up now, he legs are arthritic and her body is ancient. But her spirit burns bright and she is aware of what all is happening on the farm. Granny has been retired since she first arrived. Her role is to mother the weaned lambs and show them the ropes. She is a great granny…she would have about 40 lambs all darting back and forth and would lead them into the barn for nightly feeding and during rainstorms and so forth. She was patient with them, even when she was lying down and they would climb all over her. Granny would walk slowly enough so the slowest lamb could keep up and stop if needed.
Two years ago, she had other ideas about my decision of not breeding her and backed up to the fence to the more than willing Katahdin ram and she had twins. Last year, she had the sparkle in her eye and I let her be with Hagar, the Clun ram. I figured she wouldn't take and that was all right with me. One would think an ancient ewe would be slow or at the bottom of the food chain in the pasture with younger ewes but not Granny. Quickly, she shoved the younger ewes aside and waltzed next to Hagar. The other ewes all backed down and Granny was Queen of the flock. Three week later she went back to her pen. Actually, she stood at the gate, pawing at the door and bellowing loudly (so loud that I could hear her from the house) to let her back into her pen and she was done!!
This year she had two lambs, both fat and healthy. Granny has been in the lambing corral where she gets a big stall, grain and alfalfa. She has no teeth. Her lambs were some of the nicest lambs that I ever had seen. I went into the stall with a bottle to help supplement the lambs but she gave me an evil eye. Her udder was huge and the lambs had fat bellies and sleeping in the corner, furiously protected by Granny. Each morning and night, I would check on the lambs and Granny and each day the lambs were still fat and frolicking about. She still gave me the evil eye and every time I tried to handle her lambs, she would manage to keep herself between the lambs and me. Oh yea, and if I didn't feed her FIRST her grain, she would bellow until she was fed. So needless to say, she had me trained to feed her first. Bet you never thought a sheep could train a human, did you?
No teeth, old and full of attitude. Yep, and a two lambs by her side and the best mom of the flock. Never been sick, never had any problem.
She has her offspring on the farm also, all with the same attitude as her. Her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter and next year a great, great granddaughter. All of these ewes have some attitude. Not snotty but an attitude of "I am special and I know it"
When I clean her stall she stands at the door and watches me to make sure I do a thorough job. But beware if I leave a tool about or some item as her teeth will be upon it, checking to see if it's is edible. Heaven forbid a Border Collie might sneak in behind my back because if one does, she bellows (none of the silly baaing!!) and the dog is busted and Granny has a smirk on her face.
Last month, I had left the stall door open and she snuck out with her lambs. I turned and no sheep. I walk outside and around the barn and no sheep. I walked up and down the driveway and no sheep. I am getting worried. I get Tess, the Border Collie and send her to "find them" and she returns with no sheep. Now, I am getting worried and start to walk down the driveway to the main road when I happened to see a little glimpse of white. I turn and see Granny with the lambs, hiding in the garden, laughing at me. I point my finger at her and tell her "Bad Granny" and then she scampers off to the barn with lambs in tow. She saw me looking for her and hid and had fun watching me panic and when busted, the game was over. By the time I got back to the stall, she was laying in the corner with her lambs, looking innocent and chewing her cud with a sly smile on her face.
Tonight, as I was feeding the sheep, I noticed that Granny is slower to get up and not as loud to greet me. I honestly don't know how much longer she has but her two lambs are still by her side. Her eyes are still bright but I see dimness to them too and she is going blind. However she was alert to me and what I was doing.
Who knows when she will go to the lush, green pasture in the sheep sky but it will be a sad a tearful day at the farm when she goes. She is my foundation ewe, my granny to the lambs, the ewe who keeps me in line and my dear love. Granny, the ewe who I love the dearest. Granny, the ewe who is wise and has taught me a lot.
May Granny live to see her next generation be born.
December 12, 2005
(Granny was killed in a barn fire, one day before she turned 14 years old, on January 19. 2006)