The Lost Sheep

I have another trip down memory lane for y’all. Last week, I posted about my very first milk cow, Tilly. Before I head back to the present, I wanted to share another “blast from the past” story — this time about sheep.

These are my three brothers holding some of our lambs on our farm in Missouri.

We had many adventures in farming when I was a kid on our small farm in rural Missouri, mostly because we didn’t really know what we were doing. My mom grew up near Detroit and although my dad was born in Texas, he never lived on a farm either. We moved to Missouri from Salt Lake City (just one of the many cities we lived in), thus we were labeled “city folk” by our neighbors. We began raising animals by trial and error.  

We bought some sheep from friends who raised a breed called Katahdin. This is a meat breed that you don’t have to shear. Our friends didn’t seem to have any trouble keeping their flock inside the fence. We did not have the same experience. Our sheep loved to escape. We had to buy special panels to keep them in, because our farm had barbed-wire fence, not woven wire. We built a round pen with the panels and then had to move the pen daily to keep them on fresh grass. 

We were very excited when our first lamb was born on our farm. He named him Genesis. Lambs are very cute and so much fun to watch. They prance and leap about, loving life. Unlike the goats we currently have on our farm, our sheep back then didn’t have any birthing issues. We loved going out during birthing season to see the new lambs. Twins are common, and our sheep usually had babies with colorful patterns, patches, or spots. 

We had one sheep in particular that was a real nuisance. Her name was Dottie. She was wild, wild, wild. She was the most difficult to keep in the fence. One day when we went out to check on her to see if she had given birth, we found her missing. We looked everywhere. No Dottie. She had taken off and apparently headed for the hills. 

One of my brothers set off to find her, taking along our trusty lab/blue heeler that was a very loyal, smart dog. My brother was gone a long time, but we kept an eye out for his return. I still remember seeing him walking back toward the barn, through the pasture, holding a lamb under each arm, and Dottie following behind him. He’d found her! He said he’d have never found her without our dog, who had startled the run-aways, giving away their position. They were on a neighbor’s property, quite far from the farm. We were so glad he was able to bring them home. 

This was our family dog, Xyler, that helped find the lost sheep.

After that, Dottie had to wear a rope around her neck that was tied to a tire. No. I’m not joking. She had to drag this around with her, making sure she could not escape again. 

We plan to get a couple of sheep sometime in the future for our Texas farm. I don’t want a big flock. I would like to keep a couple at a time, raise them, and have them butchered for some tasty, healthy lamb meat. We have to get some more paddocks built before we purchase sheep, since I know firsthand how difficult it is to keep sheep fenced in.  

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