Friday, September 27, 2013
The Pecking Order
We recently added two new ewes to the flock. I am not sure exactly where they came from as I am typically not the one who worries about procurement when it comes to the livestock. My job is fencing and maintenance it seems.
Anyway one of the more interesting aspects of living around animals is observing the natural order and balance of things or as some people would call it the pecking order.
One thing as a group we seem to fail at miserably around here is proper feeding of these animals because for some reason every one we own manages to get FAT. Of course if you listen to any particular one of them they will tell you in their own way that they are starving. I know each one of us has our own favorites we sneak little tidbits too as well which is probably a big contributing factor to the whole weight problem. One Ram in particular has decided I am the god of pumpkins and cucumbers and is content to follow me where ever I go if he can.
Yet even in complete contentment and abundant food there is always strife and bullying of some kind especially over the choice morsels or real estate.
That is the way of things.
The two ewes I mentioned earlier were kept in the barn quarantined for the first week or two but were finally introduced to the flock this last Sunday. You could tell they were new comers not only because the other ewes were being mean to them and pushing them around but because they weren't in the same weight class as their antagonist. At one point we almost made the decision to separate them back out and fatten them up a bit because it really looked like they were taking a beating. Very soon however these two new ewes had managed to wiggle their way into the good graces of one of the other larger ewes who began running interference for them.
With sheep, especially the ewes, the subgroups and pecking order is a bit subtle. The larger ewe would begin by placing herself in a protective blocking position between her new charges and the more aggressive bullies. The protector would also gently shoulder her new followers into position around a feeder and then push her way in while sidestepping creating an opening for the new comers as well.
Open hostility is not as common with the "girls" it's usually more of a sniping campaign but there are rules and ultimately there are enforcers who keep those rules.
Whenever a strange dog comes around the larger ewes will take up positions on the outside of the flock and if there is an area of safety or one of us humans nearby they will move the flock to us.
Even in a land of milk and honey where everyone seems to get fat danger is around depending on your point of view and overall position within the pecking order.
I think far too many people today, snug in their protected little corners of the world, forget this pecking order is out there just waiting to come back. FIAT currency, government borrowing and cheap energy has replaced the need for protectors for some.
My guess is as things continue to decline the natural pecking order is going to be a bitter taste in reality for many out there.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!