Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Dolly wanna cracker

Back when we first got sheep, Darling had a little black lamb by the name of Freedom. We'd put a collar and leash on Freedom, toss her into the back of our SUV (sheep utility vehicle, aka Volvo station wagon) and bring her with us to the feed store and other places, such as the McDonald's drive thru, where people would fall in love with our little curly haired puppy. And we'd be forced to explain that this was not a puppy, but a lamb. They were, however, not convinced until the lamb let out a baaaa and a burp in their faces. At which point they didn't really care any longer if it was a puppy or a lamb because the fumes from the burp had knocked them out cold. Eventually we just began telling people she was a sheep dog, they'd pat her on the head and walk away, thus saving us the embarrassment of having people passed out at our feet.

Most people think sheep are not very smart, one of those being my nephew, Trouble. Trouble is not his real name, but it ought to be. He lives on a cul de sack with his brothers and sisters, his father and Little Hitler. He owns and shows a corgi, doing quite well in 4-H at both the local and state level. He looked at Darling as she led her lamb across their grandparents yard one day and asked what good that lamb was? Darling let Trouble know that she'd get that lambed trained and be competing against him in obedience classes before long. Trouble just laughed, telling her sheep weren't that smart.

Darling and Freedom's daughter, Honey

Training sheep is not an easy task. It takes time, patience, and a lot of peanut butter filled crackers. The first thing we taught our sheep to do was Baaaa. They caught on right quick, noticing the parallel between us carrying a box of crackers and getting a treat. Soon they were baaing each time they saw us with extreme exuberance! In fact, we could not get them to shut up. You could hear them all up and down the valley, and it was soon obvious that our sheep had trained us to carry treats each time we left the house or risk having some very annoyed neighbors.

The sheep also recognized that when a car pulled into the driveway, it often had treats inside of it. Hence, the driveway tax was imposed by my sheep. Should you ever come to visit, I highly advice having a box of peanut butter filled crackers with you. They're also fond of fruit loops. If nothing else, you should at least have a few old french fries. This is not on their list of approved snack foods, however it shuts them up long enough for you to get out of sight.
Do you have a cookie?

Our sheep don't allow for second chances. No, you get it right the first time or you find yourself face down in the mud with an entire flock doing Irish step dancing on your back. This is why our pockets are always full of cracker crumbs, which can be a bit embarrassing if you've actually gone out into public, reached into your pocket for your keys and pull them out covered in peanut butter. The best thing to do in this situation is to just lick it off casually as though it's a peanut butter key pop. People will look at you strangely, but it's easier than explaining the driveway tax to them.
Briget and her sheep
Feed us. Feed us NOW!

Our sheep have us well trained. They've taught us to duck as we walk past the window. If they see us through the window, we're required to pay the window tax. They stand and baaa until we go outside and feed them their crackers (or fruit loops), which isn't entirely a bad thing unless it's 6 am. The neighbors aren't terribly fond of the window tax our sheep have imposed on us. Oh, it's not so bad during the week, but they get rather cranky on weekends. Our sheep don't care about our neighborly relationships, however, so we walk around like a house full of hunchbacks.

Needless to say, the thoughts of having a prize obedience sheep has long since flown the coop. Instead, we're thinking perhaps there ought to be a class for well trained humans. How many times can your sheep get you to jump up onto that grooming stand with a cookie and coo like a baby at him? How many humans does it take to tip a sheep onto it's butt so it's feet can be trimmed...and how many of them can be layed flat in the mud in the process? Things like that.
Cuteness today, tax collector tomorrow

Yes, our sheep have done an excellent job with us. I'll bet Trouble isn't nearly so well trained! Dogs aren't nearly as smart as sheep.


Donna Boucher said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment...that way I can come over here and see all of your great pictures, too :o)

My mom had a sheep for a little while when she was a little girl...
It's my favorite picture of her :o)

I look at your babies...and think yarn, you know :o)

Lady Of Chaos said...

ROFL, isn't it great how well animals train us mere humans to run to their beck and call.

Your tax collectors are so cute! Still working on hubby.... sigh... maybe someday.

Vicki said...

They have trained you well. Adorable black sheep!

Sarah said...

The lamb sweater is too cute! You should send it to cuteoverload

deb said...

That bottom picture looks like a stuffed animal.
Great post :)

RoseMary said...

Animals just have a way of training us, don't they, LOL! Your sheep are adorble--especially the little black lamb--did you make the sweater??? We are considering getting into the sheep business ourselves--wonder if the sheep will find us smart enough for them!??

Kahshe Cottager said...

Ahh Tracey, I always leave your blog with a smile on my face and laughter in my heart!

Bluepaintred said...

OMG your sheep has a sweater! A SWEATER. is it wool? it should be wool. its way too cute,

im moving in, clear a spot in teh barn for me!

Susie said...

I'm giggling at your description "No, you get it right the first time or you find yourself face down in the mud with an entire flock doing Irish step dancing on your back."
That has to be some dance!!

Teeny Tiny cabin said...

I loved your post-really made me have a good chuckle! And all your sheep pic's are so, so cute!

I had a boy sheep (he was still young-so I don't know what to call him) when I was a teenager. When my friends came over (some of them BOY-friends to my youthful embarrassment). We were all trained by him to keep looking behind us, lest we pay the price of a good jousting ram to the rear.

jen said...

i love these pictures and how you describe your relationship to the sheep.

Tracey said...

Thanks for poppping in, everyone!

The lamb at the bottom is Tameka and a bottle lamb that we had a couple springs ago. Isn't she adorable?

Donna, you should visit the Bucking Lamb Palace sight, as that's where the yarn is =>

FarmgirlCyn said...

Tracey, You are quite the writer! This was laugh out loud funny, something I definitely need at the end of the day. Love Darlings spurs that jingle jangle jingle. She is very photogenic!

Anonymous said...

You are causing me to want to leave my job in the big city, pack up the family and move to a sheep farm! ha! You are probably laughing your head off...because I know that there is no way your life is as "easy, breezy" as it seems on your blog! But, I will admit - for the first time in all 41 years of my life...I have never wanted to live on a farm and raise sheep until I found your blog! My friends are worried! ha!

Sienna said...

Your kidding me!

I was wandering around reading blog link to link and I found sheep heaven, this is amazing, I love sheep! We have sheep, 5,000 when there wasn't a drought, but cut waaaay baa back now.

Your northern hemisphere sheep are absolutely beautiful and a credit to you...we love our southern hemisphere sheep too..it's so weird to find a blog about sheep-great weird.

...and sheep are wonderful pets, smart as..I had trained my pet lambs, possibly they also trained me! :)

Great place this! Love it.

Rural Victoria, Australia.

Rachel Whetzel said...

Tracey! I love your sheep stories! Wish I could come and pay taxes at your house! LOL

Tracey said...

Sienna, so glad to meet you! 5000??? Golly, that would mean a lot of taxes...