My parents have a small ranch on the outskirts of one town over. They've lived there for almost 1.5 years now. Before that, they lived in a small house on a postage stamp lot in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. It's been a big change for them and us. Up until my family moved here, we had never lived near family. It's been really fun having them near by.
It's been EXTRA fun having them live on about 50 acres. (The original purchase was almost 20 acres, but just a few weeks ago they bought a piece of the property adjoining theirs and bumped their total up by about 30 acres.) When they first bought the property, they were getting an agricultural exemption on their property taxes by having the next door neighbor graze his black angus cattle on "the back 15." Now they are moving toward raising sheep. In addition to the sheep, they have a llama, chickens, and a cat. My sister and her little family live on the property as well and they were raising a few rabbits. But it turns out rabbits can't handle 107 degree heat, so they didn't survive the summer. Oops.
Recentlly my mom asked me to take some photos of their animals and their property to put in frames around her house. So as I finish editing some of these, I thought I would introduce y'all.
Meet the Sheep
My parents have selected a relatively new breed of sheep (developed in 1995). They are called Royal White. They are a hair breed, not wool sheep, so they don't need shearing. They are primarily raised for meat.
They started out with just 3 ewes. One of the 3 was extremely friendly. She was the one with a little dot on her nose, so they named her "Dot":
Dot is fun, but also kind of aggressive. If you have food with you, she will get really pushy. She will sometimes butt you with her head if she's trying to boss you around. We had to start spanking her because she would head butt Kate and my little niece Jane a lot. Dot would butt hard enough to knock the little girls down. I guess Dot thought that since she was bigger than a couple 3 year olds, she could boss them around.
But now my parents have added another 6 sheep, bringing the total up to 9. They sleep at night in pens attached to the old barn on the property. At the end of the day, you ring a big cow bell and they all coming running and follow you into the pens where they know you will feed them:
One of the new acquisitions is a ram. They named him "Shaun the Sheep." More than one person has been looking at the sheep and has commented that one of them looked like it needed to be milked. Then you have to tell them, "No, that's Shaun. The male. That ain't udders..."
The sheep have been a lot of fun, and before long, it will be extra fun to see new little lambs (hopefully in February)!!!