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...........Here we tell short sheep stories with a little wit and occasional pearls of wisdom. This area will be changed on a fairly regular basis. The pictures are copyrighted, please do not use them.

..........There is a link at the bottom of the page to go back to the previous tales...............Last updated March 29, 1997

#4 Stupid?

Are sheep stupid? Well, I would not nominate them for the Einstein Award. Let's just say that they need a routine, and do not think for themselves very much.

I am sure that every lamb is born with a brain.....however, they seem fearful that using it before the age of two will cause it to wear out prematurely. Before the age of two, it seems like most sheep have the I.Q. of a rock, after the age of two they do seem to get a little smarter, like maybe an intellectual head of cabbage.

As long as sheep have a leader, they are absolved of thinking for themselves, they can just merrily follow along with the flock. We have not been able to figure out exactly how the leader is elected?, appointed?, created?. Most of the time, the leader will be an older ewe, unless there is a ram in the flock, and then he is almost always the leader. This does not mean that he will necessarily be the one in the front of the flock, in fact he will generally be the one bringing up the rear. Actually this is pretty smart, because if the big bad wolf is going to jump out and eat someone, it's probably going to be the first in line, not the last. The flock seems to take their cues from the ram as it seems he determines when it is time to do something, and how they should do it.

It is real funny watching a group of sheep, who have been traveling the same path out to pasture every day, suddenly look at each other in utter confusion, knowing that they are supposed to go out to pasture but not knowing how, on the day that we remove the ram from the flock!

Sometimes it is the boldest that will take the lead, "Hey, follow me, there is nothing to be afraid of."

Sometimes it is the one that just doesn't give a hoot, "Stay here and starve, see if I care, I'm going out for lunch".

Sometimes it is "If you go, I'll go".

But generally it is one of the older ewes that looks back and say "What a bunch of wimps!" as she heads out.

Until the age of about two, all sheep seem to survive by being copy-cats. Follow along, blend in, don't think.

Open the door of a stock trailer and try to get a bunch of yearlings to load, and they act as if a three mile deep crevasse opens between them and the front of the trailer. Throw one of them in, and it will run back out before you can get the next one in.

Add a three or four year old ewe to the mix and watch her eagerly jump into the trailer, (we occasionally move our sheep from area to area by trailer), and the youngsters, after a moment of awe, follow quickly.

Of course not all ewes are so well mannered, that same ewe can just as well lead the band of empty headed youngsters through the secret hole in the fence that only she knows about.

Stupid, well....sometimes you look at one of the sheep and you think "Are you stupid, or are you just pretending to be stupid". We have a Lincoln-Corriedale ram names "Early" that is a real whiz at untying almost any knot that he can get his lips on, and he does it for recreation.

"Eagle" was raised by someone else, and was smart enough to know that if he charged the person holding the grain bucket, then he would get more than his share of grain when the bucket was dropped. Jean never dropped her bucket, and "Eagle" never forgot to occasionally try, even though he always lost.

Did you know that if you put a container of baking soda out for your sheep, that they are smart enough to go and eat it when they need it for a sour stomach? (Buy it in a 50 lb. bag at the feed store, not little boxes from the grocery mart).

If you put out three or four different formulations of mineral salts for them, and keep it available to them year-round, they are smart enough to eat the one that contains what ever particular mineral that they need at that time of the year.

One year, Jean had a problem with the baby lambs eating dirt and getting all sorts of digestive upsets, and she solved the problem by putting the mineral salt containers lower so that the little babies could eat the salt just like the adults do. It had been a bad year, and the hay was somehow lacking. Turns out the lambs were not being stupid by eating dirt, they were being smart by trying to get the lacking minerals from the soil, but were getting sick from ingesting the dirt.

Every day now, Jean watches the 2 1/2 month old lambs pile up in the corner of their pen as they rush to go get out to the grass in their pasture. When you watch a 50 pound lamb lower it's head, close it's eyes and try repeatedly to jump through the 6 inch squares of the fence, you get the general idea that 'there are no lights on in there and, definitely, no one home' "You stupid little lambs" she says, "Why don't you just use the open gate".

"I swear they are so dumb, I have to show them how to get out out of the barn and get to the feeder".

Stupid? I guess it is all a matter of view point. Jean says that all baby lambs are born with a death wish. But most of them survive in spite of themselves, and actually do quite well.

This "Sheep Tale" has brought to mind a "Stupid Bunny Tale" sent to me by and presented here with the permission of Gaybeth Phelps. Please enjoy this short "Bunny Tail" (my pun)!

Here is another Bunny Tale (#2) that could save a bunny's life, sent to me by Rita Wiegand .

You can click on these numbers to continue, or use the pink buttons at the top of the page, or the *Jump links* that are below, to go somewhere else.

#1."Me-sis" #2. "Gem" #3. Short History #4. Stupid? #5. Rule #1 #6. Chris #7. Leonard #8 Lamb Wave #9. You know...when, #10. "Wimps" #11. "Fidget" #12. Invisible sheep #13. "Fraidy" #14. Words

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