Charlie and Hamish are one year old!
They look huge because their fleece has grown kind of wild and wooly, but they are starting to shed. Shetlands don’t usually need to be sheared and the wool is supposed to pull off– it’s called rooing– when it’s ready. We’ll see how tiny they are once the process is complete.
Most Shetlands are raised in small flocks for their wool by fiber artists. Charlie and Hamish were born in Eastern Washington on a small hobby farm. They had different parents, so they were born two days apart and then were raised together. Charlie was born on April 14, the date of a famous battle in Culloden, Scotland over a dispute regarding a pretender to the throne (a common theme throughout British history) named Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Hamish was born on April 16, a less auspicious day, but he was given the grand old Scottish name of Hamish (pronounced Hay-mish).
Charlie is all black, and will probably stay black. Hamish was very dark when he was born, but his gray cheeks promise that he will fade to gray over time. And now you know why big bushy sideburns are called “mutton chops.”
Ramble, rambunctious, rampage, rampant, rampart, and ramshackle. It’s because of all these words that male sheep are called rams. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I don’t think I need to say any more about that. And, anyway, Charlie and Hamish are wethers, neutered males, because of all of those words. Rams can get aggressive so for those of us who are not breeding them, they may as well be wethers. Hamish is very sweet and gentle, but Charlie has some attitude, so I have to watch out for him. He’s playful and affectionate, but he still needs reminding that I am the boss.
They know the routine around here. The Bartender gives them breakfast grain and looses them into the backyard from their secure night pen. I offer a chaser of carrot wheels on my way out to feed the ducks, chickens, and cats. Hamish tries to get past me at the gate every morning. They hang out and destroy the back yard until it’s time to go to the front yard to graze. Hamish tries to get past me at the gate every afternoon. He doesn’t want to wait for me to feed the cats and secure them during the afternoon Garden Party. Coming back in the evening, both sheep wait malevolently outside the gate, intimidating the ducks and hens returning from the Garden Party. Everything is more fun when you have sheep.
They absolutely loved the snow this winter! It was lovely not to have to worry about frostbitten feet. I never considered bringing them into the kitchen overnight, either.
They do everything together. If Hamish does manage to push past me into the aviary, Charlie cries and whines until I let him in or get Hamish out.
The other funny thing about Shetland sheep is the number of legs. Charlie has one leg and Hamish has three. They get around just fine, though.
Charlie is the one who puts his chin on me, begging for scritches. Given time, Hamish will come over, too, but Charlie doesn’t let him stay long.
Big news last week. Charlie’s mom, Flora, produced two little lambs! A black one like Charlie and a multi-colored one with cute markings! Nice job, Flora!