In YarnTalk, my story of the lambs and the fiber processes, Maa Dixie Belle gives 5 rules for the flock. No. 1 is “Eat Food! Alot!”
The others I’ve deduced from watching them, usually based on how they sense their world around them. The other rules are:
2. Stick with the flock!
3. Be aware!
4. Not too close!
5. Play Games!
More on those later.
#1 – EAT! seems to be written in capital letters, just for them. They’re always hungry. Though many sheep will live off forage entirely, to me, a barren winter pasture should have some help. My sheep are wool sheep and if they’re going to have quality wool, they need a high protein grain. So they have become accustomed to breakfast as soon as I wake up. That’s “as soon as I wake up”. Not after I’m audibly moving around, or visibly on my way to the shed. That’s from the moment I wake up, they know it. And they start yelling for breakfast. And when I appear, they stampede to the trough.
Sheep are creatures of habit , following the same pattern, over and over. For instance, when lining up at the trough for any meal, they must approach in the same order, position themselves in “their” spot, and dive in. “Diving in” is important, hence their No.1 rule. Maybe I should call it “Eat Food. Alot! NOW!” It doesn’t matter if they just had breakfast and meandered away from the shed, following the same path in the same order. If you call them again, they will stampede over and repeat the same exact pattern again, as though the first meal never happened.
Beyond their usual grain, they also like candy. Err…mimosa. For some reason my sheep have developed a big attachment to chewing these large fronds of greenery that I’ve never seen with other sheep. And they’ve passed it down through the generations, as long as I’ve been here. They may be skittish and aloof apart from coming for their meals, but if I go out to the pasture and pull down a mimosa branch, they come running. Or stampeding. When clearing debris around the yard, they know if mimosa is involved and rush at the fence, baaing and demanding their share.
They have curious tastes. It’s a sheep thing.