Sunday, January 3, 2010
One of the many beautiful things about living in Bodega Bay is the gorgeous drive to get here. And right now, there are hundreds of new lambs in the pastures along the way. I've been driving past the adorable babies for a few weeks and I think they've already doubled in size.
I recently drove out to take some photos. When I climbed out of the car, the first thing I noticed was the sound. There was a chorus of bleating coming from flocks scattered throughout the meadows that line Valley Ford Road. Baa, maa, BAAH, bleah, beeee, baaaa. I had no idea they were so vocal.
They didn't seem to mind my presence and went about their business, which mostly consisted of grazing, then settling down for a rest. The lambs were more active, prancing around in the morning sunshine and dewy grass.
A few times, I witnessed lambs charging urgently through the fields, making a beeline toward their mothers so they could nurse. The mothers cooperated for only a minute or two then stepped over them and walked away, leaving the youngsters to trot along bleating behind them. I guess it's part of the weaning process? The poor little lambs were so intense and carried on as though they were starving, but when it was clear mom wasn't buying it, they reluctantly went for the grass instead.
Once in a while a ewe would acquiesce and give the kid a break for several minutes.
I don't know much about raising livestock and I wondered why so many babies were born in December. I found out that sheep farmers breed the ewes toward the end of summer so the lambs are born in December and February when the grass is more plentiful. I guess our relatively moderate winter temperatures aren't a problem here on the coast.
Some people think sheep are dumb but their IQ is actually just below pigs and about the same as cows. Some sheep have shown problem-solving abilities. A flock in England allegedly found a way to get over cattle grids by rolling on their backs! Sheep also have a remarkable memory for faces and form friendships. They can also differentiate emotional states through facial characteristics, so be sure to smile when you see them. :-)
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