23LambsThis sheep family started out normally enough- a yearling ewe with twins, and she seemed to bond with them fine. In the first few days of life, I check the lambs by pinching their stomachs between my thumbs: I can tell from the fullness and back pressure whether or not they are eating enough. These lambs were both doing well.

But I started to notice the ewelamb on the left was, shall we say, on the lam a lot.

Her sweet brother clung close to mother, but the little girl always seemed to be here or there. Yet her stomach always felt full, so I assumed she was managing to track down her mother when needed. I would return her to the ewe, and though she didn’t act very needy or solicitous to her dam, she seemed well received. But I started to notice a distance between them, a level of indifference on both their parts. And by now, at lamb age 1.5 weeks, they are estranged. Mother and  son are an inseparable pair:


But this little vagabond is on her own, and I think maybe it was her own doing. She just has a weird, I don’t need anybody temperament. And a not-very-endearing mug with evil eyes, to boot.


She is extremely resourceful, and appears to spend every waking minute bumming for milk. The literal incarnation of the term bummer lamb. By now, at age ten days, she is a veritable professional at thievery. There is no scampering and immature play with the other lambs, or careless napping in the sun. She is all business. Here is the subtle approach to a snoozing ewe, you can see the clear intent, this lady doesn’t see me coming:


And score, she gets a few slurps in before the ewe jolts up in irritation.


The bummer is undaunted by the rejection, and immediately moves on to other potential scores. Of course, hay feeding time morning and evening is the most fruitful. She can move along the back of the line of ewes, nursing from behind, and it takes them a little longer to notice that it’s not their own lamb and give her a kick.

Her face is dirty from this kind of work: as you can imagine, she is getting pooped on, peed on, bled on from “cleaning” ewes that just give birth, and sometimes just slammed into the dirt for her offensive and antisocial behavior. But she doesn’t seem to care, she never cries out for her mama like a normal lamb. She’s just keeps working her gig in gritty and hardened silence.

So once I caught onto this, I decided to put her a legitimate payroll with regular bottle feedings and a graduation plan for the bucket; affording her to give up this unscrupulous occupation of juvenile delinquency. But of course it was a fight, introducing a bottle to anything older than a day or two is an epic battle. For four feedings, she wrestled, wriggled, bucked, kicked, and spit milk; and would break away and go immediately back to bumming. Get. This. Stoopid. Latex. FakeMilk. Nipple. Out. Of. My. Mouth. Pffffft!

But then, the light bulb went on in a single instant. Wait. What? This is milk? And it’s unlimited? I don’t get kicked off after two seconds? Gimme that. I’m taking it all.BottleBummer

I’m not expecting any gratitude or affection from this one. In fact, after gorging down a huge helping of milk, which was plenty to fill her belly, she went right back to skimming the row of ewes. I think she is just a born criminal.