Sheep are unique creatures that require patience, a quiet disposition, and awillingness to approach very slowly to form any kind of relationship. Up until now no sheep has been willing to form a close bond with me until now. Many might ask, “why is friendship with livestock important to you? ” I recognize that forging a relationship with sheep, goats or any livestock is not practical, but it is meaningful to me. It adds treasure to my day. Anytime an animal lets me into their confidence, I feel it is a privilege. Also it improves our working relationship. Now most of the sheep know me as the lunch lady and they do come when I call them. And a few will eat out of my hand and one lets me scratch her head. But until now, that was as far as it would go. Enter Mr B. Walnut, or Wally as he insists on being called. Soon after birth, he walked over to me and started talking to me and rubbing against me. At first I thought he was confused. But he knew his mom and loved her passionately. But as I would visit the pair daily, Wally would still come over to me for a little scratch
on the neck and some conversation. No other lamb has ever trusted me like this.
As many know, this story took a sad turn as Wally’s beautiful mama, Missy, became sick and left this planet. Wally was with her to the end and cried endlessly when we buried her under the shade tree where she died. I promised her I would take good care of her boy and I think she knew this. That unique trust we built would be needed now as I was now Wally’s foster mom.
So 3 times a day, I head out to the pasture and call for Wally and he comes running to me as fast as he can. It took a few times to get used to the bottle, but now he is a champ at it. After he finishes, he still gets his neck scratches, then pauses, looks at me, looks at the the other sheep in the distance, then runs back to the flock because he is a sheep after all.
The relationship does have its low points in that Wally will whine for a bottle at other than the scheduled feeding times. He might see me in the distance, come running to the fence in hopes I might be packing a bottle. I would think this will end with weening. And I do harbor misgivings what the relationship might be like when he is a full grown ram. All that remains to be seen. In the meantime, I am enjoying he privilege of having a lamb for a friend and foster child.