"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." A.Holmes

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Lady, About Your Spotted Goats..."

This is Leah and her twins. The twins were born in May. Can you tell they are sheep ? Most people who encounter my flock believe they are goats. Friends who have known me for years and hear me talk about my sheep will still call my sheep goats ! There is a quote by Will Rogers "It doesn't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep." Well Will, I hate to disagree with you but apparently it takes above average intelligence to do just that. Am I being a little sensitive about this ?

I exhibit my sheep in the 'Animals of the World' building at the Puyallup Fair every fall. For 5 straight days the most common comments are about my GOATS !!! This in spite of the fact I have many, many signs and much literature very visible and easily read from afar that inform the public they are looking at SHEEP ! Not to mention my BIG sign that says CEDAR POND JACOB SHEEP !!

Now, even I can understand the confusion (if there weren't signs up everywhere), but this last year I became aware most of the public does not know what a ram, ewe, wether , and lamb are. Really! I have been asked many times what species LAMBS are.....'bout blew me away when I realized that. I now keep my answers to public questions about livestock in general at the most basic level. The public seems only able to understand me when I call ewes 'girls', rams 'boys', lambs 'babies', wethers 'castrated males'. Granted, there are still a lot of folks who do know basic farm animal vocabulary, but I began asking people,"do you know what a girl sheep is called?", and so on......that is when I discovered how little the majority of the public does know about things that for years we took for granted everyone knew!

So here are some questions I have asked over the years and found a little distressing to discover the extent of ignorance concerning them; Do bunnies lay eggs ? You'd be surprised how many adults believe they do.......Do chickens nurse their babies? Again, many people believe mama hen nurses her chicks. Do chickens have teeth ? ( yes for those in the know, chicks have an egg tooth, but not for long) Just hang out in the livestock section of your local county fair some time, enjoy the animals and entertain yourself listening to the questions.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy educating people about the very animals I love and keep, as do most of the people exhibiting. The fairs want livestock exhibits to be educational and ready to have answers for the public. For most Americans now a days, a fair is probably the closest they will get to livestock, so ask away. You won't learn without asking questions.

Now, back to the sheep , yes, SHEEP, in the picture above. Leah's twins are a ram lamb and a ewe lamb. ( If you need definitions of these terms see above paragraphs). The ram lamb is the little one without black on his legs and feet. Well, he is sprouting 5 horns ! FIVE horns. I do have 2 ewes with 5 horns.......but there is very little room on a rams' head to house 5 big horns so this should be interesting.

"People, like sheep, tend to follow a leader-occasionally in the right direction" Alexander Chase

2 comments:

Lanny said...

Reminds me of the good old days when I listened to my girls howl with laughter about the questions or comments they got while exhibiting animals in 4-H shows.

Megan said...

Hi, it's Megan again...I'll be part of your "general public" test audience here, ok? ;-) I can see how in the FACE they might look like goats, but...and correct me if I'm wrong...I didn't think goats EVER grew such a wooly looking coat. Thought it was much more straight and coarse. But then again, I didn't know females could sprout horns, either. :-)