Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A difference in parenting styles

Goldie and Onyx are two very different mothers.  It might be a case of age, experience, or temperament, or a function of just how many lambs each is trying to deal with.
Onyx, our little first-timer with triplets, is a very casual sort of mother.  "What, are you kids back already?  I thought I told you to go play outside."  Though given the fact that she has three lambs and only two spigots, feeding time takes up a rather large portion of her day.  By the time all three have taken turns and been fed, someone's probably hungry again.
Goldie, on the other hand, with only one lamb, is an intense mother.  Her lamb is supposed to be by her side At All Times.  "You!  Get your fuzzy little butt back over here.  Where do you think you're going?  You sit right there, mister, till I tell you to get up."
It's funny watching Goldie's lamb (whom I have not named Smoky, since Madman insists that we shouldn't name them, but if I were going to name him, he would totally be Smoke or Smoky)  (but I haven't named him) playing with Onyx's lambs.  The first three, though a week+ older, are smaller than he's-not-named-Smoky.  (Well, the ram lamb might be roughly the same size, but it's pretty close.)  So, technically they're the Big Kids - vastly more experienced in the ways of the world - and he's-not-named-Smoky tries to copy them in their bouncing and gamboling and shenanigans.
The trouble begins with our fencing.  The lambs are small enough that they squirt out through the mesh of the fence and go lolloping around in the garden.  We spent the first week or so in a panic, running and catching them and putting them back into the paddock.  But they'd all be out again before we'd even finished capturing them all, the little brats.  Short of replacing all our fencing (which is way outside our budget at the moment), our only hope is that they'll get too big to fit through the holes before they get into serious trouble.  (We've tried explaining that the fence is there for their protection, but sheep are notoriously immune to the Voice of Reason.  And lambs are the worst - a really short attention span.  We lose them at "Ya know, that fence is" and they're out in the garden again.)
Now, Onyx is okay with her lambs bumbling around outside.  "Yeah, whatever, kids.  Try to stay out of trouble."
Goldie, on the other hand, loses her mind.  "My Baby!  My Baby is Outside!  The Fence!  Without Me!  Get back in here!!  NOW!!!  NOW!!!"
It worked the first time.  Little he's-not-named-Smoky watched the Terrible Trio squeeze through the fence, just like he'd been doing every day for the first week of his life, and this time the lure was too much.  He followed.  Goldie had a full-tilt meltdown.  He's-not-named-Smoky froze in his tracks, turned around, and tried to figure out how to get back inside.  It was hard for him - getting out was downhill, but getting back in involved jumping uphill through the fence, and he's still clumsy with youth.  He finally managed it, with Goldie shouting at him at the top of her lungs through the entire ordeal.
He stood by her side, ears down, little lower lip quivering, watching as the Big Kids cavorted and capered and knocked each other down in pure joy.  Every time his ears pricked forward and he looked like he was going to step toward them, Goldie would make a noise deep in her throat.  "Don't even think about it, buster."

And today?  Guess who's out in the garden right now, playing with the Big Kids, while his mother goes batshit-crazy?


kmkat said...

I loved this! Animals are so fascinating.

The first mother cat we fostered for the humane society was also a first-time mother, and the poor thing had six kittens. She was a Goldie sort of mother. The kittens would be nursing and she would decide she was bored/hungry/thirsty/needed to look out the window and would stand up and walk away... kittens still attached.

Oh, and I have a husband-who-IS-named-Smokey.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Okay - I seriously can't stop laughing.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Goldie lose her lamb last year or the year before? Maybe she's remembering? Or is that giving sheep waaaay too much credit?

Sue J. said...

Hilarious! Glad to know that some things are exactly the same, no matter what species you belong to...

Erika said...

Love it!

I don't know how much fencing you're talking about, but there's a plastic version of hardware cloth that's pretty affordable. It's not good for much, it's basically a semi-flimsy plastic mesh. But you could tack it up along the bottom of the fence to keep the youngsters in.

Cookie said...


I love it!

Laurie said...

Lamb and ewe social psych is amazing. LOL!

Bullwinkle said...

Loved this! Poor he-who-is-not-named-Smokey totally just wants to play with the big kids. (Kind of reminds me of Ned. Which makes me really sympathize with you.)