Life Behind Baas: A Story of Sheep Betrayal

I love sheep! There is something about them. They are supposed to be stupid but I’ve known some clever ones in my time (like I’ve known lots of people who claim to be clever …..). They have exquisite faces, full of charm with a look in their eyes that just beg for a little more human understanding.

What more can I say about the joys of building a relationship with a sheep or, preferably, many sheep? They smell nice, especially when wet. They’re cuddly (when dry) once they’ve allowed you to become more intimate with them, an especial priviledge.
They have lovely voices – varying in tone from deep bass through alto to soprano – and there’s usually quite a few castratos among them too. Each morning, as soon as I step outside into the garden, I am greeted by uplifted heads and welcoming bleats, a sort of dawn chorus, an ovine welcome to another day. And as I enter their field to feed the bantams who are kept there, they gather around me pushing and jostling to have their noses scratched, their ears rubbed and to tell me the latest gossip and goings-on in their sheepy world.

Now there is one special reason that I haven’t mentioned yet about why I’m so fond of sheep: they taste great, well roasted with lashings of gravy and mint sauce. And that is the quandry. For the reason that these are here in the loveliest field in the secret valley is not for favouritism (as they think) – it is for the pot. And as they try to eat the poultry food I explain that they have no need for such processed feed, for they have the sweetest grass and the freshest river water, when replete they can rest in the shade of the finest trees, the secret valley can offer.

As if to make me feel even more gulity, they wander off to the empty, upturned feeders. Somehow, even the fattest ones can get inside them. For them, life behind bars is nothing more than a defiant gesture: they little know that judgement has been passed and they have been sentenced to death.

To end on an upbeat note, the tups have been put in with the stock ewes this week. Soon enough, the new season’s lambs will be born – something we always look forward too.
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14 thoughts on “Life Behind Baas: A Story of Sheep Betrayal

  1. I love my sheep as well, but they are pure pets, as are my goats. Each one has a voice and personality unique to it's self and I couldn't possibly eat the little darlings…actually, they are BIG darlings. But, enjoy your lamb chops!

  2. Thanks to all of you for your comments. I have a cop out when it comes to the really difficult stuff: although I live on a farm, I don't farm it myself – I am a gardener.So I tell myself that I'm not responsible. They get slaughtered locally, off the farm. Every so often, one comes back for the freezer. The plus side is that we know they have been well cared for in their usually rather short lives.Johnson

  3. (Me I'm a vegetarian, but) Years ago there was an article in New Scientist. Those sheep can not only recognise your face, but also what sort of mood you are in. (How does the animal behaviourist know that?!)

  4. Behavourists are lways telling us things that cannot be proven, Elephant!Suz – As I said, the farm decisions are not made by me so I feel ok! And, of course, if we didn't eat them, they would soon become nothing more than zoo animals, rarities to be gawped at – definitely a life behind bars!Johnson

  5. Hello… we had sheep, and we would butcher and eat one during the year. The rest went to market. What are animal owners to do, let the sheep die of old age? Not very practical.

  6. Hello, could you tell me what the breed is? Is it a Leicester? We have a small flock here in Oregon and have just begun to raise the Cotswold sheep (in your honor it appears) with the addition of 3 lovely yearlings.All the best.

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