Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Big Blue Bucket

So, our new little ram, Orion, is fitting right in with the gang. Except for one thing.
He's a grain hog.
Our sheep live on a diet of grass and hay, supplemented with a little grain. Shetlands are a hardy breed, and actually do better when not on too rich a diet. So, morning and evening chores involve chucking some hay at them, then giving them some grain - hand feeding it to them when we have the time (and it's not 40 below), otherwise just dumping some into a big food dish.
Our original three managed to share fairly nicely, with the occasional disagreement that ended in a butting contest, but usually things worked out pretty fair.
Orion, however, thinks he should get all the grain, and elbows... well, horns, actually, the others out of the food dish. They stand around going "Hey! Hey! That's for everybody, ya know. Hey!" while he guzzles all the grain.
So, I tried an experiment. I grabbed their spare water bucket, shook a little grain into the bottom of it, and set it in front of Orion. Once he was engaged with that, I put grain for the other sheep into their food dish, and stood back to watch.
It worked like a charm. Orion, with his head in a bucket, couldn't see the others eating, and thought he was getting the grain all to himself. The other sheep finally were getting their fair share.
My only concern was the bucket handle - I was afraid of it getting hooked on Orion's horns, with him panicking and dashing around the pasture like a... well, like a sheep with a bucket on his head.
Good thing I was worried, because getting his horns caught is exactly what happened. I was close enough to intervene before he realized he had a problem (he was still distracted by the grain in the bottom of the bucket), so I was able to work the handle back off his horns before we ended up with a situation where the other sheep were laughing at him and calling him 'Buckethead.' (It's so hard to maintain any ramly dignity when your flock refers to you as Lil' Buckethead...)
The next day, I came up with a better bucket - a big blue one without a handle.

Much better.

Goldie, Onyx, and Merlin can now enjoy their supper without getting a horn in the snoot.

And nobody has to be a Buckethead...


quantumtea said...

oh I would have loved to see little Buckethead running around...

But then I'm the one who laughs when the cats get stuck in the paper bag they're attacking and take off at a run before I can stop laughing long enough to help them out of their predicament.

kmkat said...

It is good to be smarter than your sheep ;-)

Wanderingcatstudio said...

LOL. That reminds me of the time the lid came off the cat's litter box and Mopar came out with his head through the door of it and his feet out the bottom - he looked like a litter box turtle!

Bullwinkle said...

Love the shot of Orion with his head in a bucket :) reminds me of Ned in a pot.

Ned is concerned about his food supply. He regularly tells us that he needs more kibble in the bowls downstairs. He asks for his fish, his treats, etc. Nickie, not so much.

So we don't pay attention to Ned until Nickie tells us they are starving. (Poor Ned is stuck on the Nickie diet plan.) Then Nickie runs downstairs, mewing and calling and watching to be sure we're following. We put kibble in one bowl and she starts eating.

Ned is remarkably patient through this process. He has been "starving" for hours and *finally* he is going to get to eat -- but Nickie goes first.

Then we put an equal amount of kibble in the other bowl. And Nickie switches bowls. Ned waits for it - waits by the first bowl, and chows down as soon as she moves.

And then she proceeds to smack him and run from bowl to bowl. Poor Ned has to grab a bite here, a bite there and get out of her way until she settles down.

It's no wonder he's afraid for his food supply.

Cookie said...

Wonderful fix!

gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

You're a sheep psychologist too??!!!