747 is a coloured ewe living at Joybilee Farm. She was one of a pair of triplet ewes that were born on a farm in Alberta and came to us as a ewe lambs. She earned her name and reputation on her first shearing day as a hogget. When Ian tried to grab her to shear her, she leaped into the air and flew across the barn floor, upsetting Ian and Sarah in the dash.
In 2007, 747, then 3 years old and moorit in colouring, stole her sister's lamb. What an unusual behavior! We took the lamb away and gave it back to her sister. A few hours later she had the lamb again. This went on for a few days.
When she came close to deliverying her own lamb we realized something was wrong. She went past her due date and didn't go into labour. About two days later we found her by herself pushing, but no lamb. On checking inside her we realized her lamb had died and was turned sideways with her back presenting to the birth canal. We had to help her deliver her dead lamb.
She was so sad. She wanted to have a baby but her baby was gone. She licked it off and then laid down with her face to the wall, refusing food and water. There was not to be done but to retrieve her sister's lamb and let her have it.
Her behavior toward this adopted lamb was interesting. She never sniffed its tail, a common behair of ewes, who remember their lambs by smell. But she suckled the lamb. After 2 days, she rejoined the flock and for the full season shared her sister's twin lambs. She was a wonderful mom and was happy to feed any other lamb that wanted extra milk, never sniffing a tail or rejecting a lamb.
This Spring (2008) 747 had a male lamb, delivered without problems. I hadn't been into the barn for a few days, since our flock manages most births without assistance. Robin kept me informed of the progress of our flock.
About 4 days later, a black angora buckling was born and I went out to see our new boy. We are always thrilled when a coloured angora is born and he was a huge single kid worthy of our oohs and aaahs.
747 came into the barn when I arrived and let out a deep, "Baaaaaaah, Baaaah". My attention was fully on the new buckling and I ignored her. She repeated her "Baaaah, Baaaah" and stomped her foot.
I looked up. "Hi, 747. What's up?" I asked.
She took a step to the left and revealed her white ram lamb at her side. "Oh, what a beautiful boy! You've outdone yourself, " I said.
She nodded, "Baaa!" And walked out of the barn, leaving me with thoughts of the misunderstood intelligence of sheep and the symbiotic relationship between shepherdess and sheep.