I had a rebellion in the barn tonight! The sheep are out on pasture for at least a couple of hours every day, free to eat as much grass as they want. But sometimes they can be very fussy, wanting only to eat young, tender grass and leaving the bigger, tougher plants standing. They also have their mangers filled with plenty of hay when they are in the barn. They are by no means under-fed! Trust me, most of them could stand to lose a few. In addition to that, they also get grain, bread, vegetable peelings, etc.. Tonight, due to circumstances beyond my control, we were running short on the “extras”. Gave them an extra ration of grain, but that was not good enough. Made sure the lambs got their full amount, to keep them growing well. The lambs are fed in a separate pen, or the adults would hog it all. Well, tonight, as soon as the big ones finished their grain, they all started yelling at me. “BAAAA BAAAAA! We’re starving to death! BAAAA!” I always have to guard the lamb pen, leaving the door open so the lambs can go in and out, but keeping the big ones out. There are always a couple of adults who will non-chalantly wander towards the pen, hoping I won’t notice, so they can sneak in and get some extra treats. Or they come up to me, pretending they want to be petted, so they can sneak in the minute I’m not looking. Tonight I had five of them rush me at the same time. I couldn’t stop them all. Went in the pen to get the two out who succeeded, three more got themselves jammed in the doorway trying to get in. Finally got all the adults out. Had to instill martial law. Had to hold the door shut and open it for each lamb while fending off the guerillas. In the meantime I’m telling the adults to go eat their hay. And they are giving me the evil eye, yelling at me, banging their little tin cups against the boards of the pen… Karen S Roberts responded to my text about the situation, warning me not to let them get to the pitchforks. I stood my ground and eventually most of the crowd dispersed, deciding to “settle” for hay. However the 5 leaders continued to try to stir up the populace for quite some time. They did not win. I placed the whole lot of them under “barn arrest” and established a strict curfew. If the situation continues to escalate tomorrow, I may have to “make and example” of the rebel leaders.
The rebellion has become more organized. They are now calling themselves BAADSHEEP, the Baaatherhood for the Advocacy and Advancement of Dependable, Sumptuous and Hearty Edibles Everyday for the Populous. Civil disobedience continues to be a problem. We had a visit from foreign dignitaries, Billy Bob, Lysanne Rivet-Roberts, McKayla, Marissa, and their friend. Any other time the sheep would run up to me in the pasture, yelling about how hungry they are. That would have given the girls a chance to pet them. Not today! Today they had to make a big show about how busy they were eating grass, didn’t have time to come over and socialize. It’s my opinion that they were trying to gain support and sympathy from the visitors. I don’t think it worked though. When I apologized to Billy and suggested maybe when the sheep came in the barn to eat, maybe the girls could get closer. Billy replied, “They’re eating now!” HA! Take that BAADSHEEP! Sheep are SUPPOSED to eat grass! You can deface the barn with all the graffiti you want, bleat you “basic ovine rights” chants all day long. This administration will NOT be intimidated! Some sheep on other farms never get treats at all. Be glad you get them at all, you ungrateful, wool-brained….Ahem… Um… I mean… Um… People and sheep can work together if you will just be willing to compromise. Um… Yeah… So, any way, looking for a swift end to this conflict.
The uprising has taken an ugly turn today. BAADSHEEP has enlisted the aid of allies. They have convinced the flies to join them on the premise that the more treats the sheep get, the more crumbs and treat residue will be available for the flies to eat off the floor. The flies were buzzing and biting me the whole time I did chores. They also got the pigeons in the haymow involved, though what the pigeons get out of it I don’t know. The pigeons tried to crap on my head when I was throwing down hay for the sheep. I suppose I should be glad there aren’t many rats in the barn during the summer (they usually try to move in in droves when the weather gets cold) or they would have been harassing me, too.
Why can’t the sheep understand that these interlopers are a threat? The flies and rats aren’t interested in waiting for leftovers. They would eat all the treats themselves if they could and leave nothing for the sheep. And the pigeons just crap all over their hay. They refuse to speak the language. Just buzz-buzz, squeak-squeak, and coo-coo. If your heritage is so great, go back to the manure pile you came from, where you belong!
Any way, I was not willing to tolerate this outrage for long. I enlisted my own allies. Casey the cat is now on patrol in the haymow. I smiled with satisfaction when I heard bird shrieks shortly after she went up the stairs. I have also cultivated a partnership with a rather large frog who has been living in the outside water tub. Told him to eat as many flies as he can and I will not deport him. As to those flies, I swatted a good many of them myself. Mind you, it was self defense. They attacked me. I was just standing my ground.
When the sheep came back in the barn and saw the smooshed little bodies, they were outraged. Called me a vertibratist. Joined in solidarity with the grieving fly family members. Good grief BAADSHEEP! If flies don’t want to get swatted, they should not attack someone a million times their size. Don’t you sheep realize the flies bite you as much as they do me? Do you know that while you are out at pasture and I am getting you food tubs ready, the flies are eating as much of your food as they can before you even get a chance at it. We should put screens on all the barn windows and stop up all the holes between the boards. Keep them out of the barn altogether. Let them stay in their manure pile.
BAADSHEEP leaders were talking of organizing a candle light vigil. Can’t have that in a barn! So, I offered them a “stimulus” of melon rinds and corn husks to pull them through until the treatconomy improves. That made them think. Of course they fully enjoyed the stimulus, but were still muttering that they deserved more. I may have to approach the BAADSHEEP leaders privately and see if we can work something out on the side…
Came into the barn tonight to find this grafitti on the wall. The rebels have organized. It was a night of civil disobebience. Tried three times to lead the sheep to a hedge row I had fenced in with electronet. They were munching happily on the milkweeds, wild grape vine leaves, and other tasty weeds until they noticed me heading back to the barn. Then they would remember their protest and race me up the hill and stand there yelling at the closed door. Shoulder to shoulder they swayed together and bleated their chants about “sheep solidarity” and “basic ovine rights”.The lambs joined in support of the adults in this demonstration. (They did not hesitate to eat thier full ration of goodies when I let every one in the barn, though.) When I told them that the USDA recommended a certain percentage of roughage in every sheeps’ diet they became outraged that the government should try to control what they eat. I tried pointing out the fact that the flies and rats fequently ate a good portion of their treats; the fools were unmoved by the outrage of these illegal immigrants. I even tried to appeal to traditional ovine family values. Nothing moved them from their demands for “basic ovine rights”. These dissidents are really becoming a problem!
I don’t have enough definitive proof to make an arrest, but PITA did have traces of orange wax on her nose.
So, I made a quiet visit to the barn this evening. Took each of the 5 ringleaders of the rebellion aside to talk to them privately. During each one-on-one I offered each of them some juicy apple slices and asked them to set aside the treat issue and just talk about themselves and their views on ovine life in general. Turns out PITA has very strong views in favor of the right to butt heads. And her daughter, Pia, is strongly in favor of head butt control. Families, right? Maggie finds it incredibly offensive when the ram lambs mount each other. Whereas her daughter, Martha, believes that as long as the rams are happy, have the right to mount anyone who consents. Must be a generational thing. Mumu is on the verge of being obsessed over the damage being done to over-grazed pastures when the herd gluts themselves on tender, young grass and leaves the tougher, older weeds to grow. Nothing could be simpler. The treat issue is the only thing uniting them, and therefore the rest of the herd. We talked and each of them munched on apple slices, fully knowing the other sheep were not getting apple slices. It was so easy to subtly imply that I supported each of their issues. Perhaps I would even be able to help them in furthering their causes. No promises, of course, but…”here, have another apple slice”…
Authority has been restored in the barn! There was still a bit of civil disobedience among the sheep. They were still reluctant to eat the grass and weeds in the hedge row, periodically running back up the hill to yell at the barn door while I was doing chores. But their united front was visibly shaken. Between their “solidarity” chants I overheard dissention among them. They were factionalized. The head butters against the head butt control supporters. As the lambs playfully mounted each other, some of the ewes expressed their disgust while others bleated their right to do so. While the “save the pasture” faction yelled at everyone else for killing the pasture. Whenever I popped my head out the door or passed a window they united enough to yell at me, but the resistance is clearly falling apart. I was able to reassure them that they would have their treats tonight, both bread and corn husks. That silenced them momentarily, but only long enough the change their chant to, “We want them now!” and to demand a guarantee of treats every day in the future. However, once I opened the barn door and they started eating, the revolution basically died. There was no looting of the lambs’ food tonight, no demonstrations, no harassment of authority (me), no graffiti, nothing. They even forgot about their demand for a treat guarantee. They had several squabbles and heated discussions amongst themselves, between the various factions, but their animosity towards me was completely forgotten. When I left for the evening, they were chewing their cud, still arguing amongst themselves, twitching their ears and stomping their feet against their former fly allies. It’s amazing what a few apple slices can do. And, honestly, it doesn’t cost me anything to give them stale bread, vegetable peels, and corn husks. I just have to try and make sure we don’t run out again. Any how, I think I’ll go make myself a bagel with cream cheese and a nice fresh vegetable salad, maybe some juicy corn on the cob… Later on I really should write a letter to my congress person and do some on-line research. Also, I really should shore up that bank that keeps eroding so badly every time it rains. But my favorite show is on tonight and I want to check my facebook, play a couple computer games, read my book, eat some treats….