(10/18/16) And Cupcake Makes Five!

October 18th, 2016

I read somewhere that cats are like potato chips...you can never stop with just one. As sheep should never be forced to live on their own (flock animals NEED to have other sheep with them), I kind of figured that the same might hold true for our woolly ovine buddies...but didn't realize how easily I could get sucked into the idea of getting "just one more!"

Some of you may remember back in April when my guest blogger (a.k.a. daughter Elise) told us all about the lambs that we got to visit on her birthday. Two of those lambs were out of Daisy, who is now part of the BFF Flock...Elise named them Cupcake and Sprinkle, and these lambs ended up being raised by FFA students for one of the local fairs.

Both lambs grew nicely and were raised by young men who worked hard and cared for them a great deal - it was lovely to go to the fair in September and see how the lambs had grown! Of course, going to the fair and seeing the lambs...and seeing Elise seeing the lambs...led to something that I hadn't planned for at all...because the thought popped into my head that maybe I could buy these lambs back from the fair. Last year Lee was able to do this with one of her lambs, so I thought that it was something that might be possible.

Well, turns out it’s no longer something that is done - they had problems last year with lambs getting mixed up and upset buyers, so they decided that they would no longer allow anyone to buy the lambs unless they go through the auction. The livestock auction allows everyone a chance to bid on the animals, and the money raised goes to the kids (most of them put the funds into college accounts, or they use it to buy future animals), so it’s a really good thing to do - even if you end up buying a lamb for four times what you would pay for it anywhere else…yes. I found that out firsthand!

We had both lambs marked down for bidding, but I spent so much getting Cupcake, I just couldn’t do the same for Sprinkle. One of the fair board directors sat with us during the auction (it was my first time doing anything like this, so I asked for help!), and he said that he would talk to the guy who bought Sprinkle and see if he would be willing to sell her to me - unfortunately, he wasn’t, but I have to say that one of the sweetest moments of this whole experience was when this fair board director called and left me a voicemail, letting me know that I wouldn’t be able to get Sprinkle - Elise and I both heard the sincere regret in his voice - he really tried, and really felt bad that he couldn’t make this happen for us. So there were tears, but then we pulled ourselves together and focused on the fact that OH MY GOSH WE GOT CUPCAKE!!!

The next day we went to pick up our fair entries (I scored a couple of ribbons for knitting projects, and Elise did the same with photography), and then to the sheep barn to get Cupcake! She was all ready to go, and I promised the young man who raised her that he could come visit anytime! He was so grateful that I bought her - when Cupcake's bidding ended, he came up with a thank you card and a jar of candy, and threw his arms around me, saying, “Thank you so much for buying her!!!” We both cried - most of the fair lambs end up NOT going to flocks, and it can be so hard on these kids to have to let them go, so he just couldn’t say enough how grateful he was that his lamb was going to a good home.

So, as you know from the story of Daisy's introduction into the flock, it takes a few days (or weeks) before everyone will be together without fussin' and feudin'. Fortunately for Cupcake, she had her mama there to start out with - when we arrived home with the little girl, she instantly started calling for Daisy, and Daisy started baahing right back at her! So we got the two of them together in the upper pasture, while the Icelandics stared and sniffed through the fence.

We left them like this for about a week, then brought Black Velvet in to meet her little niece - who is significantly taller than her auntie! Black Velvet was not at all pleased with this little interloper who insisted on sniffing her, but every time she tried to get after Cupcake and act ugly, Daisy was right there, smacking her and making sure Cupcake didn't get hurt. I was THRILLED! I figured it would be no problem to get Panda Bear in there, once we gave the three girls time to form their flock - it seems like the magic method to flock integration is to introduce the new member to one old member at a time - then once they've bonded into their own mini-flock, introduce a second old member. Because the newest old member to be introduced is outnumbered and is less likely to cause grief to the new member...phew! I hope this is making sense! At any rate, it worked with Panda Bear - she did NOT like Cupcake, but by the time we brought her in, Black Velvet had bonded with Daisy and Cupcake, so she didn't join Panda Bear in trying to gang up on Cupcake.

Mikey spent a few days by himself, and then we finally took the plunge and added him back into the flock...and sure enough, he wanted to smack Cupcake around. What totally surprised all of us was that Daisy - super mom Daisy who wouldn't let Black Velvet and Panda Bear hurt her lamb - did her best to ignore Mikey and his attacks on Cupcake. It totally blew my mind, but I did my best to stay calm and ignore it. I was so disappointed in Daisy, but it occurred to me that Mikey really is the king of the flock - maybe if we had waited weeks to integrate him, it would have been different, but somehow I doubt it. I think Daisy is a little bit afraid of him, and so didn't do much in the way of daughter-defending. However, Cupcake was a trooper - she figured out ways to hide behind the other sheep, and she has youth and speed on her side. Mikey could chase her around the pasture all he wanted, but he ended up being the one who was worn out - Cupcake could run all day without batting an eyelash (and yes, sheep have lovely eyelashes, in case you were wondering!)!

By the next day, peace had come to the BFF pastures once again...

So in just a few months we've gone from having the Trio, to the Fab Four, to the Fibery Five...and although the original plan was to breed Daisy this year to have lambs in 2017, we decided that we need to let Cupcake grow up enough to not need Daisy like she still does. Breeding Daisy will involve her going to live at Lee's farm for a month while she spends quality time with a ram, which means Cupcake will really need to be a full-grown, tough sheep on her own. At this point, we're thrilled to pieces to have the five sheep that we have, and universe-willing, we can breed Daisy in 2017 to have spring 2018 lambs! And actually, by then, Cupcake would be old enough to breed, too... hmmm...remember how I mentioned that sheep might be a little bit like potato chips? I think it might be time for me to get this shirt:

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