As shepherds we think we know what’s best for our sheep. The benefit of years watching and learning from these creatures has helped me realize that most of the time, they do know best and don't need our interference. If we’ll listen to them and not try to “project” our human interpretation, we can see that. Sure, we have to get involved from time to time but I’ve found if we trust their instincts and get out of their way, they’ll often take care of things.
Like the ewe that insists on having her lamb in the woods, we let her. Is it the safest? Probably not but that’s what she wants to do. It makes it harder on us once she’s had the lamb to get them to safety but I believe allowing them to have those moments and make those decisions gives us a more mutually respectful relationship.
I’m sure there’s a shepherd or two out there ranting at me right now, “we must be able to manage them and that requires some degree of doing things in spite of their natural instincts.” Like I said, I realize there are times we need to step in and I realize my way isn’t going to align with most others…it’s just my desire to let them be as true to their natural ways as I can. I might pay for it with a little extra effort on my part but I believe I gain by raising sheep that are in touch with their intuitive ways.
The other day I was rehashing a decision to want to keep one of our older ewes back from breeding. She has given us plenty of beautiful babies. She deserves to rest, I thought. So, I did just that. She went to spend her time grazing in green pastures with the teenagers. What a glorious gift, or was it?
Well, to shorten what could be a very long tale, Willow, that’s her name, ended up pregnant anyway. How? We’ll never be 100% sure. Through a fence? Could be, but boys were not in adjoining fences except for short stints while moving sheep? Could she be that fast? One of our lambs might have been more mature then we thought? Like i said, we’ll never know for sure.
A funny thing happened on that day I realized she was with lamb, as I walked away from her pasture something beckoned me to look back. There went Willow trotting away from me and kicking up her heels.
She was mighty happy.
It’s as if she was saying to me, I love being a mom! You don’t get to decide.
I believe I had just been reminded, we’re not necessarily smarter then mother nature!