RoadTrip1I have come to reflect that transporting and relocating sheep is very stressful for them. It can often trigger dangerous pneumonia; a phenomenon so well known, it has its own name: “shipping fever.” Twice I have lost purchased breeding sheep that came from well-reputed farms, which were  healthy-looking upon arrival, only to have them crash and burn a few weeks later. This is expensive! So these days, I am much more inclined to coddle purchased sheep as they make their transition from old herd to new.

Enter the escort services of Proposal Lamb.

RoadTrip2(He is still here, and his lifestyle is still being funded by his benefactors.) His official name bestowed by his benefactors is “Larry,” but my husband jokingly calls him “Jimmy Niblets,” a nickname that has stuck. He is very tame, from being a bottle lamb; and thus doesn’t really consider himself a sheep and doesn’t prefer to flock with them. He is well-versed in the contents of white buckets; and will follow me anywhere, or come running when called, in order to earn a little treat of grain.

Twice this summer I drove to purchase a single ram, where being separated from his flock and riding alone with a strange person would have been distressing to the sheep. So, it only made sense that Mr. Niblets should ride shotgun, to keep the new sheep company on the trip. RoadTrip3Jimmy nimbly hops into my cargo van on his own in order to earn a moment of gobbling grain. Though he wears a dog collar, he is very insulted if anyone grabs it, or worse, ties him up! He will buck and kick and strongly object to being treated like a sheep, as if he feels that his gentlemanly behavior doesn’t warrant such disrespect. So, I just let him walk around loose in the van.

He prefers to stand in between the front seats next to me, casually looking out the window, and peering curiously at baristas at the coffee stands. Every time I stop, it turns heads. People say, “he’s like a dog!” Yes, he certainly is. At the gas station, he nearly crawled out over the front seat, he’s so ready to follow me on any adventure we might take. Later, he chewed the straw on my coffee. Annoyed

My cargo van works perfectly for hauling a few sheep. It has no interior carpet or wall panels; so I just throw down some bedding, and sweep or hose it out when I’m done. The side door step is low, so it’s easy to lift sheep in, and often they jump up on their own when they see another sheep in there. No hitching up a trailer; and I can drive fast, park easily, and get good gas mileage. Plus, I can see and hear the sheep while driving, so I know they are ok.

RoadTrip4One of the new rams was just a short drive away in Monroe. But last weekend, Jimmy and I did a seven-hour round trip to Moses Lake to pick up another new guy. It works like a charm having him ride along. The new ram joins right up with him and rides calmly, mirroring Jimmy’s relaxed and confident state of mind.

When I get home, the new additions follow Jimmy right into the barn with no fuss. This trio will stay in the barn for a few weeks, so I can watch the new rams closely for any symptoms of distress. And theoretically, if they did have any low-grade viruses endemic to their home herds, they’ll get over them before I  turn them out, reducing the chance that they’ll put the sheep here at risk. Jimmy is a good buffer sheep: I don’t worry about him succumbing to foreign illness as much, because he lives a stress-free life compared to the breeding stock, which are under more pressure. When I do turn the new rams out, they’ll smell a bit like Jimmy, and will already be acquainted with him, making the introduction to the rest of the group go a little more smoothly.