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Baking a Cake for Peggy

Dear old Peggy lambed yesterday, on one of the coldest and most brutal days of the year.  I’ve been worried about Peggy for the last few weeks.   She has lost condition since shearing, despite being fed grain daily.  She’s old, and filling her massive udder took the last of her energy stores.  She looked much better in the fall.  It’s a lesson to me about why people cull ewes at age 8 or 9.  You might not know that she’s done until she’s really done.

In any case, after a few false alarms, Peggy really went into labor.  While I had feared all kinds of trouble, Peggy had her lambs like an old pro.   She lay down and squeezed them out, knowing exactly what to do.  Peggy is devoted to her lambs and pays full attention to all of their needs.  Sadly for Peggy, her estimation of her capacity to handle her lambs and mine differed.  Her black ewe seemed to be thriving, but her white ram was falling behind.

“Peggy – can I milk you and see if I can’t help your lamb along?”


So we argued, I milked her, fed the lamb, and the next thing I saw returning to the barn was that dang lamb finally finding her low-slung teats and nursing on his own.  I could swear she glared at me a little.

But on to the cake:

My sheep are total grain addicts, and even opening the passenger door to my truck sends them baaing and scrambling.  To feed just one shy sheep, I realized I’d need to offer a tasty, grainy treat that didn’t announce itself.  Taking some steel-cut oats, eggs, veggie oil, molasses salt, cornmeal and a touch of baking powder, I baked a cake designed to deliver calories, nutrition and a wealth of sheep-approved flavor.

Two sniffs convinced Peggy that she needed to eat this cake.  I put it on a flake of hay, and soon Peggy was digging deeply into her hay to clean up the crumbs.  Snuffle snuffle snuffle and she was done.

A rough recipe for sheep cake:

  • 3 cups of steel cut oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Bake at 350F in a lightly greased 9×13 pan for 25-30 minutes.

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Getting Together

After an escape and a few other instances of naughtiness, primarily instigated by The Doctor, I gave in.  Knowing a bit about sheep psychology, I made a guess: if I put the BFLs with the larger flock, they would be more inclined to stay put because the larger flock doesn’t pressure the fence.  After a few hours of intensive bum-sniffing and then a few days of not associating with each other, team Bluefaced and team more-or-less-Cormo have concluded that they can play nicely.  The Doctor has become something of a leader, though Peggy is still skeptical that this young upstart could have anything valuable to contribute to *her* flock.

While the Doctor has learned that being fenced in is okay, Little Moose and Fred have gleaned from their fellow sheep that Matt and I are not as vicious and horrible as they initially feared.  Little Moose doesn’t flee anymore, and Fred will even approach for a hand-sniff.  Petting is still forbidden at the moment, but time and some grain should help that.

Here are some pictures of our pasture paradise:

It’s all in those big, soft eyes.  This is “Fred”


Oh, Hello!  The Doctor prefers to be the center of attention.
The Cormos are teaching the BFLs to demand attention, like they always do.  Todd Chavez nibbles Matt until he gets the skritches he needs.

We had a little rain over the past week, and the Bluefaced Leicesters are showing off their amazing wool.

The Money Shot