Sheep are animals that come with all sorts of connotations, assumptions and stereotypes. They are used the world over for a huge amount of products for peoples comfort and consumption. They naturally produce amazing fibre with incredible qualities. I often feel sad at how disposable animals are to people. We do not often truly appreciate the gifts we are given.
I have often heard the phrase ‘sheep are dumb’. I cannot agree and having lived on a sheep property for some years now I can say with certainty that sheep are not dumb. I can also say for certain that sheep reflect the people who ‘own’ them, use them, or who look after them – perfectly – may I be so bold as to say they resemble society at large in many ways.
Sheep have been part of Pete’s life since he arrived on the planet, his parents had sheep on their farm and then he decided to make a business out of sheep, selling wool and raising lambs & sheep for meat production. Sheep have also been part of mine too – in that I had a sheepskin to sleep on from the time I was born & was eating various parts of sheep from around 3 years old, I also wore woollen jumpers, leggings, singlets and pretty much everything wool for much of my life, I love wool. I have also ‘lived off’ sheep – financially the sale of them, and some eating of them, for the years I have lived in Australia.
Sheep have contributed to our income, supported our life style, run the property financially, provided us with food – meat – until a few years ago, given their wool for profit and basically we have used sheep to exist in this world in more than a few ways.
We value domesticated animals above all other animals, because they provide for us financially.
We have noticed the competition this sets up between species and how it influences how we think and feel about different animal species, labelling some ‘pests’ and doing our utmost to eradicate them (imagine the projections they receive, is it a wonder many species become aggressive or completely decline?). Our feelings of more importance, love and care for domesticated animals effects how different species interact with each other (we – humans – are the common denominator and as we experiment & make some change, discover more about where our soul’s are out of harmony with love, we are noticing animal behaviour and interactions changing also).
We have experienced attack on the ‘favoured’ animals – the sheep – and we have experienced interesting things happening with the sheep and non domesticated animals as we work through some of the imbalances we have in regards to our love and care of all creatures. For example the animals used to exist entirely separately, now there is more intermingling. Kangaroos used to bolt as soon as they got whiff of us, now they will more often stay and observe us before bounding away, sometimes only raising their heads before getting on with grazing or sun baking, there is still ways to go, but we are noticing differences in the environment around us.
I haven’t blogged much about sheep and I think at first it was due to not seeing how much they contributed to our lives, taking them for granted, and then because I felt ashamed when I decided to go vegan at how unethical I was, at how blatantly I was using them and was continuing to support the meat industry when we needed money and no one wanted to buy sheep to re-stock, only for meat production. There are some hyporcritical aspects here.
It has taken approximately four years for us to get to a point where we no longer desire to use sheep anymore. Four years to face up to our lack of ethics and see some of the results and consequences of this. This year we are selling the flock, hopefully entirely to people who want to grow wool and continue the beautiful fibre that the sheep Pete has selected produce, it is beautiful and so soft.
I would like to share some things I have noticed about sheep:
- Sheep are so domesticated (thousands of years of domestication) that they pretty much do as man dictates because man has created them that way. They have been bred so they will not fight, are not aggressive, can be man handled and easily manipulated to do what man wants. (In using the term ‘man’ I am using it to indicate both genders male and female).
- Some people seem to like exerting power over sheep rather than treating them lovingly (not all, but I have noticed many people take their feelings out upon sheep – animals in general – rather than feeling their feelings without harming another creature). They man handle them and take their aggressiveness and frustration out on sheep which I find ironic as they are really being aggressive and angry to a very docile animal that if you treated it lovingly and kindly would probably do what you wanted it to without any fuss. But people seem to feel that they need to force and ‘make’ sheep do what they want. I feel sad about the treatment of sheep.
- Sheep are collective consciousness animals as far as I can gather. When following a flock being mustered, I have noticed that the sheep at the back seem to know what the sheep at the front are doing. If one sheep has a feeling, all the sheep the will know that feeling and often react to it also.
- If you can get just one sheep to go through a gate, into a pen, over a river, ALL the sheep will follow. But it needs one brave one to go first else all of them will wait.
- Sheep can swim. Not marathons, but they can swim.
- Sheep give birth seemingly effortlessly and have amazing breathing technique (some have complications, but seem to have less when they have less interference from people). I did some lessons with them when I was pregnant because I was amazed at how simple and fearless the birthing process was for them. I learnt that the body is designed to have babies and will do so without you ‘doing’ anything, if you let it do it’s thing. If you have fear then the body will reflect that and shut down, feel the fear and the body naturally does what it needs to do.
- Sheep move in circles. They will move in circles as a form or protection as well as when uncertain what to do and they will also walk in circles when they are blind.
- Sheep eat in the moonlight.
- Sheep stand still to conserve energy, they don’t move much when it is hot and look for shade.
- They pant when hot or afraid.
- Sheep are inquisitive. I watched one in the shed the other day sniff the conveyer belt, lick the air with her tongue, tentatively touch the conveyer and then step on and sit back to see what would happen next. It was just like watching a dog check something out for the first time.
- Dog’s are scary when they nip and or bark all the time and fear is a recipe for chaos and disaster.
- Sheep can be really hurt, e.g. have their uterus hanging out – prolapsed, a broken leg, ruptured cancers, been attacked by dogs with half their backsides hanging off and yet they still walk as best they can. They are distressed, but when Michael, Susan and Pete put them to sleep (psychic anaesthesia) and operate on them, they seem to trust that they will be taken care of. When the surgery is complete they wake up and walk away on their own accord, as best they can with the injuries they have.
- Sheep don’t need to be mulsed, ever. People choose to do this to sheep.
- Sheep can have tails that are usable so they don’t need to be cut off. This will take time for the likes of merino sheep for example as they have been bred for wool and to be big and heavy so it might take a couple of years to breed in the genetics to change the tails, but it is possible.
- Sheep reflect the people who own them and work with them. Sheep can literally walk themselves to where ever you desire them to go if you leave the gates open. Whether they do or do not is based on your soul and the attractions you create. An example: Pete has told me that lambs can be ‘difficult’ getting into a shed. They don’t always know where to go, they haven’t experienced it before and they can have reservations about various aspects of the process. It is interesting when Pete is calm and un-expectant how many times the lambs have literally taken minutes to all walk themselves into the yards and shed without any problems what so ever.
- It is also interesting when Pete has some anger or frustration, fears or other un expressed emotions how chaotic and messy the process is, it can take hours. The dog gets in the way rather than helping, the sheep miss the gates and split into more than one mob,heading in different directions. And we thought sheep were dumb, smile. This doesn’t just happen to Pete, this happens to the guys who work here and to anyone who does the muster. If Pete and I go out together then all sorts of things have happened – especially if I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing, or I am afraid of getting it wrong, it totally goes wrong, we have also had ‘perfect’ runs into the yards in my limited mustering experiences.
- When sheep are unwell or the season is hard, they have the ability to drop their wool so that their energy can go into healing themselves.
- Sheep, when they are little particularly, are playful, fun and funny to watch. In the evenings lambs congregate together, they meet up and play, they chase, jump and run about madly. The mothers follow behind bleating and trying to ‘organise’ – that could also just be a reflection of me with the lambs at our place, smile.
- Adult sheep also leap and can jump really high.
- There are a number of rams who have literally jumped over the yard rails and shearing shed gates.
- Sheep are community animals, they like to hang out with each other in groups. There are leaders and those that come up behind. They look out for each other. They will ram you – excuse the pun – if they feel threatened or afraid, but that is rare and they will do their utmost to get away from you first!
- It is amazing walking through a mob of sheep as they will all move away from you, it is like a sea dividing before you.
- They have soft silky noses and make the baaaa ing sound by sticking their tongues out.
- There are so many other cool things about sheep, if you have the opportunity I suggest going and hanging out with them for a while and getting to know them, give them some credit and love for all the amazing things they do, and the next time you think of them being ‘dumb’ remember they have been ‘dumbed down’ by humans and reflect us perfectly.