Flocking and a Windy Day

It was really windy on the farm yesterday. I noticed that all the sheep and Paridot immediately went into the arena to graze.

Robin had mentioned sheep’s instinct to flock in a recent talk she gave on wool and different sheep breeds. It got me thinking – I wonder if the wind counts as something that bothers them enough that they feel they have to stay together? “Flocking” is the instinct that sheep have to stay in a group. I did a little reading on Sheep 101  and found that this instinct is stronger in the finer wool breeds but they all have it to some extent. It can keep them safer to stay in a group although there are times when that doesn’t work to their advantage (like when they follow the sheep in the lead into a dangerous situation – like going over a cliff!). The website says there is actually a strain of sheep in Iceland called “leadersheep” who, being very intelligent, can lead a flock home during difficult conditions, such as blizzards.

Well, we don’t have any blizzards around here and I think our sheep tend to follow Paridot more than another sheep if there is any threat or even if Paridot is curious about something – like a neighbor’s dog recently. They all gathered around Paridot as he moved forward to check the dog out. I can’t decide if that is intelligent behavior or not!

Today, however, they stayed in a tighter group than usual as they grazed the arena area.

So, whether it was the wind or a just a random event, they seemed to get over it and move out into the bigger pasture.

They definitely don’t always stay together so I don’t know what that says about their flocking instinct or maybe they are just competitive,  trying to be the one to get to the better grazing area!

Look how windy it was – the eucalyptus were really blowing (and I found a tree down across the fence this morning), but you can really see it if you look at the palm trees at the top these photos.

Besides mucking out part of the barn this morning (also not a good idea on a windy day!), I washed part of one of those Navajo-Churro fleeces I wrote about in the last post. It is really beautiful.

And putting a little fence around it helps keep the wind from blowing it around as much – and keeps my dogs from deciding to see how far around the yard they can spread it!

Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yes it really was windy! That fleece looks great. I can’t wait to wash mine up. I wonder about the flocking, do you think because they are different breeds they may not flock? Just a thought.

    • You know, Ingrid always says that her Jacobs and Navajo-Churros tend to stay within their own breed group. I think my sample size is too small to tell! They certainly flock when they think there is a reason to – like something exciting or threatening in the pasture – or for food!

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