.....Here we introduce you to some of our sheep. This area will be changed on a fairly regular basis. The pictures are copyrighted, please do not use them.
.....There is a link at the bottom of the page to go back to the previous tales...............Last updated March 1, 1997
Sheep Tales # 2 "Gem"
Navajo-Churro sheep are different. In many ways they seem to be just a little less domestic than most sheep. In the future I will tell you about Chris. She is a pure bred Navajo-Churro and after she first lambed she took her babies out and hid them in the tall grass of the pasture, much like a deer would do.
The Churros seem to be just a little smarter, and most definitely quieter.
Most everyone associates sheep sounds with the Disney film type baby lamb that says "Maaaaaaaaaaah", or the travel film scene of the flock of sheep and the gentle sounds of "Baaaaaaaah". If you have ever been around regular sheep (Jean calls them REAL sheep) you have heard the REAL noise that they make.
For those of you who are new to sheep, let me explain. At close range, a healthy 250 pound ewe, with a deep throat and a good set of vocal cords, can open her mouth and emit a low frequency sonic wave that can vibrate the lungs inside your chest. The mouth will open, the tongue will extend, it's tip will curl down, and then.......
Ba la aa AA AA AA AH!
The volume of air expelled is sufficient to allow you to smell "SHEEP BREATH" from 6 ft. away, if you are in the direct line of fire. "SHEEP BREATH", now there is a subject for another tale, at another time, but for those of you who have never experienced it, ......think "fermenting fodder" and you will get the general idea.
The REAL sheep's lambs (Jean calls sheep that are not Churros REAL sheep when describing sheep, because REAL sheep look like the sheep that most people think sheep should look like) are often willful and obnoxious, (or perhaps just plain stupid) because they will stand and scream for their mother to come to them so that they can nurse (lunch time), and of course the mothers stand their ground and bellow back, calling the little ones to "come and get it". Eventually someone gives in and life goes on, but so does the noise.
When Jean enters the sheep's pen with supper, it is the REAL sheep that BLAAAAAH and BLAAAAAH. And of course the lambs learn from their mothers.
The Churros may fidget, and jockey for position at the feeder, waiting for the food, but they do it quietly.
Navajo-Churros ARE quiet. They are not Silent, they are Quiet. It is unusual for a mother to call her lambs. The lambs have very little to say. Except for the short period of time just after birth, when the ewe and lamb speak their introductions to each other, (that's yet another Tale for another time), you hardly ever hear a Churro lamb make a single sound.
The ewes always seem to know where her lambs are, and the lambs rarely will go where they can no longer see their mother. A panicked lamb who has "misplaced" it's mother will issue a few short cries, and with it's ears spread wide, will "zero in" on it's mother's low guttural call.
When a lamb is hungry, it will go to the ewe. If the lambs are playing and the ewe feels it is time for the lamb to nurse, the ewe will go to the lamb, or, for example, if the lamb is sleeping she will nudge it with her front leg until it is awake, and then she will make it get up and nurse, without ever making a sound.
Perhaps the Navajo-Churros survived on the desert because a quiet sheep was less likely to attract the hungry killers. But then again, who knows, Churros are different.
This is "Gem" and she is the only Navajo-Churro ewe with horns that we have.
Her clean face shines like satin in the sunlight, and her fleece is beginning to turn gray.
"Gem" is one of Jean's buddies. When Jean sits in the pen with the sheep, "Gem" will come over for scratching, and will lend a sympathetic ear to what ever Jean has to say. Occasionally "Gem" will talk to Jean, in a very, very soft and gentle voice.
I myself have never heard her utter a single sound.
One of the older Navajo Churro ewes (Nina), after having 3 babies was put in a separate pen for herself and her lambs, so that she could be fed a larger portion of grain and hay (so that she could produce enough milk for all three lambs). Normally a TOTALLY silent creature, she turned into a very "mouthy" sheep, "bellowing" for her food as soon as she saw Jean coming.
One of her lambs picked up the habit, and joined in vocally.
Within a few days of being turned in with the main flock, both have fallen totally silent!
Churros are different.
You can click on these numbers to continue, or use the pink buttons at the top of the page, or the *Jump links* that are below, to go somewhere else.
#1."Me-sis" #2. "Gem" #3. Short History #4. Stupid? #5. Rule #1 #6. Chris #7. Leonard #8 Lamb Wave #9. You know...when, #10. "Wimps" #11. "Fidget" #12. Invisible sheep #13. "Fraidy" #14. Words
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