The sheep get fed perennial peanut hay every day in the winter. So far, anyway. I feed and monitor, feed and monitor, and adjust accordingly….
I meet the sheeps for ‘food time,’ as they call it, by the shed. But not before the Family Little come pit-pat trotting up and accost me for treats.
“…” says Thunder Little, the youngest of the three donkeys.
“Well, hi, sweetie,” I reply, in delight.
He shuffles toward me and I reach for his neck. He gets a big hug.
“Hi,” I say, “Nice to see you.”
I dig in my pocket for treats, three apple flavored biscuits, one for each donkey, if they let me touch them. Thunder gets his first, he’s most comfortable around me. I’m eager to get him working. He’s taken to handling exceptionally well, which has given me a real morale boost in the ‘am I doing a good?’ department (time spent working intensively with the animals tends to have that affect, I’ve found). Sister Little is close on his heels. She and Mama Little make up the duo that is ‘The Sisters Little.” You guessed it, sisters. Sister Little is the younger of the two. Mama Little is so-called because she is Thunder Little’s mama, but! She is not the first Mama on the grounds. ‘Mama’ is the first mama on the grounds. There’s Dad, too, but he’s a whole other story, and all I have to say for the moment is I’m not too thrilled with him. He knows why.
Returning now to the sheep.
In the shed I go. I lift the metal wire gate up off the ground and walk it back enough for me to enter (don’t imagine anything too massive, it’s 4×4 feet, this gate, give or take). Enter, I do, and I scoot the gate back into place so no creatures sneak in after me. Mendel, the ram, he won’t hesitate if the gate’s left open.
I pack a five gallon black rubber bucket full with Perennial Peanut Hay (PPH, if you’re hardcore). I fill another, three gallons, plastic and pink, with a couple scoops of sweet mix for the donkeys.
When I have the time, I like to be present for the entirety of the sheep/donkey feeding, not just leave them out hay and depart. Means I don’t have to separate them, and can spend some time getting them comfortable around one another, and eventually, bonded. The problem is the donkeys go nuts for PPH, and that ain’t intended for them. They have their own big ole round bale for the winter, and that’s what I expect them to keep to. But, you think they do if I’m not around to make sure of it? So, I guard the PPH as the sheep chew the cud, and keep the donkeys on me with a small offering of sweet mix. Works well.
*Worth mentioning, I’m a huge fan of PPH, it’s a perennial favorite among ruminants, and makes for great hay, called the Alfalfa of the South. Being in the business of sustainability and regeneration, I’m interested in perennials because they come back every season, meaning I don’t have to always be buying seed year after year (which is also great because you cut down on food miles, which, I’d argue, is applicable to seeds, which do become food for something at some point eventually. If I cultivate responsibly, I’ll be harvesting, storing, and sowing seed to promote growth, which offers a healthy and reliable feed source (with proper management) for my animals.. But can you believe, 10lbs of perennial peanut seed goes for four-hundred buckaroos!? Here’s the link, we accept donations, address is on the site [insert:emoji]: https://hancockseed.com/perennial-peanut-seed-10-lb-766.html
Returning now to the sheep.
I hold the pink bucket vertical and up to my chest to provide easier access for the donkeys, and mind the sheep as they grind up their dinner. If you haven’t heard the sound of sheep chewing (the more sheep the better) you are missing out. It’s incredibly pleasing to the ear.
From time to time, a sheep will charge out beyond the flock and scan the area. This evening is the first time I’ve noticed them do that. They charge forth gallantly, one at a time. Then return to the flock and continue feeding.
A Happy New Year, to you all.
The Kessler Miller Farm
Featured in our featured image is SumSum (pron. SoomSoom), formerly the sheep known as Aviv.