Steep Sheep Learning Curves

As those tenacious folk who have been with us for a while will know, the very first farmy animal to reside on the Homestead was The Farmer’s baby, the divine Miss Sapphire.

Lamb 3.jpg

Five year old Farm Girl and baby Sapphire in the backyard of the fledgling Union Homestead

Delivered to the The Farmer’s place of work after being found roaming the sordid streets of downtown Rangiora, she and The Farmer quickly built up a bond which required her to travel home with him each weekend. The problem was while she adored The Farmer, she really didn’t care for the rest of us to the extent that, if The Farmer decided to be a little social and leave The Homestead, much baa-ing and bleating would result. This noise had a rather dramatic effect on the resident final year Engineering student, who was knee-deep in pre-exam prep at this time, and so Sapphire was ruled big enough to handle Farmer-free weekends and returned to the farm park.

Over the years, many joyous events, stories, and ludicrous photo opportunities occurred


some which were documented in this tabloid, until the day came that The Farmer spread his wings and left the farm park. Of course, Sapphire had to go, too, but not to us, we hastened to add. Oh no! Her persistent baa-ing, the cause of much bad Goat Herd language back in the day, had grown in volume along with the rest of her and the suburban homesteader lives in fear of the Council Noise Control Officer above all else. Rather, she took up residence in the wonderful Kingdom of Melton (West) where the royal family are known to take in all manner of waifs and strays.

But with the change of Homestead address came a change of expectations. Here in the country, animals can make all the noise they want, so Miss Sapphire is finally home. She’s even learning to like the rest of us (as long as we’re holding the sheep treats), and is very much the leader of the pack flock. Yes, we’re branching out into shepherding.


This new venture has not been without its trials resulting in a bit of tearful hole-digging (for which there are a great many theories among our community advisers, but no clear-cut answers), and our flock now stands at three.


Now Froda (she’s a bit hobbitty)


and Eleanor (she’s just lovely)

join Sapphire at the feed trough (the use of which has our real-farm neighbours smiling indulgently) each day


and we’re embarking on a whole new learning curve.

13 thoughts on “Steep Sheep Learning Curves

  1. oooh…so jealous. Sheep were coming next for me if I’d stayed on the farm wagon – but fencing was going to be a big deal, so I now know why you’ve been working at it so hard, and there was me thinking it was about the goats. And what do the goats think of the incomers? Who are gorgeous – love the face on Eleanor particularly, what breed is that? Is Sapphire the boss sheep?

  2. The fences are still a work in progress…sigh…but loving having sheep (and potential roast lamb, sheep milk cheese, felt slippers, and winter jerseys).
    The goats, apart from being a bit miffed at having someone else in the feed queue, are very laid back about the new residents and often chat back and forth between paddocks.
    Eleanor is primarily Arapawa , a breed that evolved here from animals left by Captain James Cook. She’s just the sweetest girl.
    Yes, Sapphire is the boss which makes the mob much easier to handle as she’s totally food-obsessed.

    • Thanks, Laurie. There is no doubt in my mind at all that animals think, feel, love, loath, enjoy and accept life in the same manner as we humans. It’s up to us, however, as the ones in the driving seat, to be humane. I think that sometimes gets forgotten.

  3. Hi, I am guessing that the milk, meat and fleece are going to be provided by the offspring of these three beauties. More trips to eligible suitors as with the goats? Will you be acquiring the knitting pattern for the lamb cardigans to keep the little ones warm?

  4. I have never kept sheep would love to one day, thanks for the inspiration. I do love Eleanor’s markings it looks like she has lipstick & blush on. There are so many highs & lows in farming gotta love the faces & attitudes & love in the paddock that keep us going.

    • Thanks for stopping by. Eleanor’s haphazard “make up” raises a smile every morning – she would definitely be one to go out with bright pink lipstick on her teeth 😊loving this way of life!

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