Saturday, October 10, 2009

Negrita, Rubia and Benjamin

I have talked a lot about Negrita, maybe because she lived well into her twenties. Most sheep lose their teeth at about the age of seven making it impossible for them to graze. One day while I was sitting at work a shepherd walked by with hundreds of sheep and lambs. I ran outside and asked if he would sell me one. He said he would be in the river bed about 5:00 pm. if I wanted one I would have to meet him there because they didn’t stop grazing. I met him in the river and picked out a cute black lamb, just as I was ready to put her in my car up came a cute little brown one. I decided I couldn’t separate them so I bought both. The brown one was called Rubia. They followed the children everywhere and even played at gently knocking them down, which was a great favorite with the kids. They came on picnics and walks with us. Negrita even took the two day hike over the mountains with Lenox, myself a Whippet and a Briard. It was one of the best trips of our life. We drank from the springs, picked oranges along the way, were given spoonfuls of honey by farmers and we slept in a tiny orchard at the bottom of a cliff where eagles nested just above our head. The hard part was at the end of the walk, when we made it over the mountains and had to convince the taxi-driver to take us and the three dogs back to Mojácar. We all pretended that Negrita was a dog.
After Negrita and Rubia were a few years old I took them to a shepherd to see if I could breed them. He called me a few short days later and said I had to come get them because they were too domesticated and wouldn’t socialize and the males wouldn’t go near them and they were starving. I remember because it was Amber’s birthday. He had a bunch of white babies and said the best thing would be to buy my very own stud so he could grow up with Negrita and Rubia. It made sense so... Happy Birthday Amber! She named him Benjamin. The sheep all wandered around the farm in a group with the other young animals. He was just as tame as the other lambs and got along fine with the lack of discipline. He was definitely Amber’s though because she couldn’t make a move without him by her side. He liked to play ‘knock the kids down’ too. It was funny at first but he later grew a big bone on the top of his head and as he became more and more possessive of Amber he started to hit her harder to the point I was getting worried. It is a sign of affection and learning to play in sheep but doesn’t transfer so well to children. Negrita and Rubia remained gentle. After a lot of tears we decided the best thing was to sell Bejamin as a stud. That seemed unheard of to the local shepherds because he didn’t act like a sheep and the herd would reject him. We searched long and hard and finally found an American couple who would be willing to take him in as a pet.
It all went well until one day we went to the stables and to our surprise, Rubia had had a baby lamb. Obviously Benjamin was the father. It was a boy and they named him Winky but we knew we couldn’t keep him because the same thing would happen as with Benjamin. It was very sad but when he was old enough we gave him to a nice English family, without small children where he played with their big dogs, bashing them about.I find sheep to be wonderful pets; they are loyal, they eat the weeds but never pull anything up by the roots so even if they nibble on a few of your plants it won’t hurt them. The reason they don’t pull thing up by the roots is so it will grow back for eating next year, It is Nature’s self-preservation. They stayed around the property and even used to come on rides with us, even for the longer ones. Negrita stayed glued to Casi my foal as I got them about the same time, together with Petite Suisse the calf they made an interesting threesome. Negrita refused to eat out of her dish instead she would half strangle herself to lean over and eat out of Casi’s trough. I was told by a shepherd that it was cruel to keep sheep in a confined space because they needed to graze to grow properly but we found they did even better by being in a large pen with the other animals and eat what the others ate, wandering the property grazing to their hearts content and getting exercise by coming on walks and rides with us.

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