Thursday, March 26, 2009

Girls at War

All the rest of Shearing Day, every time we looked at the combined flock of all the ewes (we merged the Skinny Minnies with the Fatties, since it's so close to lambing), Perfle and Faith were having it out with each other. Everyone else pretty much ignored them.

There's always a lot of pushing and shoving and head-butting the afternoon of shearing day. Apparently the sheep don't recognize one another very readily after their haircuts. Well, I have trouble recognizing them, too--that's why they are ear-tagged with their names! So they take this opportunity to treat each other as strangers, and work out their entire social order all over again.

But it generally is over in an hour or two. And this just went on and on.

They butted again and again, backing up a pace or two each time. Not with blind murderous intent like fighting rams, but with more seriousness and persistence than I've previously seen in ewes. In between rounds of butting, they would stand forehead to forehead, as if questioning whether each other would surrender yet. Alternatively they would engage in vigorous body slamming.

Even half a bale of good alfalfa did not distract them for long.

After puzzling over it awhile, I realized that Perfle had been a Skinny Minnie, while Faith was a Fatty. Evidently they had each been the matriarch of their band, and now they needed to narrow the leadership down to one. And they were pretty evenly matched, even though Perfle is older and smaller.

Gang war, sheep fashion.

When I figure out who won, I'll let you know. Leadership among the flock is subtle, to the uninitiated.

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