Head Count

It was chaos in the sheep area when I went out to close it up for the night. Of the eight lambs we’ve had born so far, six are almost entirely black and a seventh is mostly black. Only one is mostly white. All the black lambs are about the same age and size. The challenge is trying to get an accurate head count while all these little guys are swarming and weaving in and out among the various adults.

Over and over I counted, and I kept coming up with seven. I could’ve sworn we’d had eight lambs born so far, but it’s becoming a blur. Maybe it was only seven. Or was it eight? As I secured the barn, I began composing an update to the previous blog post in my head. It was going to start out, “Okay. So, I can’t add.”

But what if I was wrong about being wrong? What if it really was eight? Why was I only coming up with seven? I stopped, stepped away from the chaos, and calmly reviewed what I knew to be true. Conundrum, Bianca and Maybelle each had a single. Three. Licorice had triplets. Six. And we had twins born today. Eight. Eight. But I can only find seven lambs!

I jogged into the house and retrieved my big pistol grip spotlight. (As noted last summer, this is a truly essential tool when living in the country.) I ran back to the fenced-in area outside the sheep area, and swept the spotlight across the whole thing.

And, within seconds, I spotted him. Number Eight. He was pure black, and had curled up in an old rubber feed bowl for the night. I never would’ve seen him with just the light coming from the barn. As I lit him up, he lifted his head and looked at me, but didn’t make a sound. It took just a few more seconds to run to him, lift him into my arms, and carry him back around to barn’s main entrance (I’d of course already secured the sheep door from the inside).

And that was that. The parable of the Lost Sheep, come to life. Lots to think about and contemplate; even if I might sometimes lose count and get confused from time to time, the Good Shepherd never will. And that Good Shepherd is infinitely more concerned about my welfare and security, and is prepared to go much farther to bring me back to safety, than I ever could for a member of my own little flock.

3 thoughts on “Head Count

  1. All the baby lambs are so beautiful! I do so enjoy reading your blog and share in all the happy moments. I showed one of your photos to my boss. She commented that the sheep had horns and couldn't be the mother. I quickly came up with a reply and told her it is because they are the Icelandic breed. Is this true? I don't think she bought it.

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  2. Naturegirl – glad you enjoy the blog so much! Was your boss doubting that a female sheep could have horns? Or doubting that a horned sheep could have a non-horned (“polled”) offspring? Either way, you gave the correct answer: Icelandic sheep of either sex can be either horned or polled. It's an interesting genetic aspect of the breed, just like their color patterns. Most of our females are horned, as are all of our males. We have two polled females. Some breeders specialize in one or the other, but we like the variety. And, generally, we prefer the horns — it makes the sheep easier to catch and hold!

    You'll notice that the females' horns are thinner and curve differently from the male horns. So it's fairly easy to tell which are which.

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