Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lanolin, the Boss Lady

The runt of a litter of triplets and neglected by her mother, Lanolin has lumbered through life on her own terms.  Like it or lump it, she's in charge.

As a lamb, she was bottle-fed by my mother-in-law and followed her around the yard like a dog.  Lanolin came to our farm one year later, just as we were establishing our flock of Shetlands.  Althought she's a Suffolk/Rambouillet cross, at that age she was similiar in size.  Our flock of three were turned loose into the old cattle pasture where we had patched barbed wire fences, dating back fifty years, with shiny wire and ring clips.  The canary grasses were over five feet tall yet those three sheep had no apprehension about tunneling in to find the tastiest leaves.  The small, trampled area by the front gate slowly grew larger until the pasture looked quite presentable.

Soon Lanolin dwarfed the Shetlands, in both size and temperament.  She quickly established herself as the leader of the pack.  Not an aggressive sheep (that seems an oxymoron) but large enough to play the roadblock when she wanted to make a point.  The following year she lambed an adorable pair of ewe lambs over Easter weekend.  Couldn't have asked for more idyllic faces!  Although she wasn't a very attentive mother, those twins had inherited her tenacity and both grew up fat and happy.

After several breeding seasons, though, Lanolin developed hoof trouble and weak fetlocks, and we knew she couldn't carry the weight anymore.  Her seven pound fleece is more akin to R40 insulation than wool, but I did manage to spin and knit up a hat in the early days.  So today, well into her twilight years, Lanolin doesn't produce lambs or quality wool but still graces the pastures that she helped to clear.  Her position in the flock, now numbering fourteen, is well-established and will remain till the end.  She's a bit slower these days, but still the first, and last, to the hay pile and grain pans.  And always ready for a little ear-scratching.


  1. Those little baby lamb faces oh my gosh so cute I can't stand it!!!!

  2. Oh, those lamb faces!! They're so so adorable; Shetland Sheep are my favorite kind, they always look like children's book illustrations come to life!

  3. I spent many hours sitting in the pasture with these two. They were so friendly; they'd nap in my lap!


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