My sheep are California Reds, a breed developed by crossing Tunis sheep, a desert sheep from Tunisia, and Barbados, a meat sheep. I chose the breed because they looked cool, were supposed to be very intelligent, which they are, and the breeder lived two miles from my house. Add to this a total lack of knowledge regarding the size of sheep and the micron count of their wool.
My sheep are medium sized, about 125 – 140 lbs, and about as strong as oxes. Their wool is such that a shawl I made from some hand spun of theirs can also be used to scour pots while you are wearing it across your shoulders. But the oatmeal color wool with the red guard hairs are so cool looking, dyes beautifully, and makes great rug yarns.
One of the drawbacks to my sheep is that, being desert sheep, and living in NJ with its jungle atmosphere and rainforest humidity, their hooves take a beating. Slick seems okay with the constantly wet pastures this past couple of years, but Spot is suffering. I noticed last year that she had some odd things happening to her whole foot. We thought it might be some kind of parasite, so I gave her a shot of Ivermectin; costs like hell and good for internal and external parasites, and did nothing for her hooves.
What I found we have to do is almost daily hoove trimming, bathing in Hoof solution, and application of various ointments for the hooves. She hates it of course, and since its been barely eight weeks since I had my hip replaced, scary to do. Today we lured her with kibble and she got up on the stand without trying to knock me over.
Once I got into her with the shears, I felt so awful. She really has a bad case of scald. I think if we doctor her daily and really cut that hoof down, she’ll be fine in a week or so. While she was up there, I also washed off the worst of the filth on her fleece. She looked as good as new when I got done. She was also trying to do her best to become one with me.
Sheep provide so much enjoyment for such a small output of attention. They are so much easier to take care of than other hoofed animals; they don’t need shoes, (maybe Spot should have them, however), you don’t need to put them in and out like you do horses, mucking out their stalls isn’t as bad as horses stalls; the poos are smaller, for one thing. Goats climb fences, (those damn Southdowns were fence climbers; my husband saw one the spawn climb a tree to get next door), and they smell. At least I think they do. Sorry, goat shepherd friends.
But they do need to be cared for. I have been negligent in their care for the past couple of years and promised them today for more love and affection from now on.