From this little thing, rejected by his mother, he has now, some two years later, turned into this:
Very much the patriarch with his family about him.
He took his time making the transition.
For a long time he hung about near the house doing guard sheep duties:
But more and more he was drawn to the flock whence he came until he finally decided to take up residence and dominate them rather than us.
He has taken on the typical attitude of a ram…if it is in the way, butt it, if it isn’t butt it anyway… but still and always cuddles up to Leo, mild as milk.
Clearly, he does not forget who saved him.
Climate change is with us: the pastures are drying out early in the unseasonable heat, so thank goodness that we laid a lot of ground down to cameroun – a nutritious fodder grass – a few years ago to supplement the grazing which means that the ewes maintain vigour and can support their lambs, unlike Monty’s mother who had arrived half starved.
We were supposed to be at the altitude limit for coconuts to fruit…but this year, not content with fruiting, they have started to germinate:
Goodness only knows what changes we will see in the future…but, for the moment, as this song from the late fifties says:
Monty was born three weeks ago, but his mother rejected him. So, instead of being outside with this lot:
Monty is living in the house….and spending more time in the garden as he grows increasingly independent.
His mother and another ewe gave birth to twins on the same day – and both mothers rejected the males; butting them away quite roughly, so we took them into the house.
One little chap was just too weak to make it, and we thought we had lost Monty too on the second morning. We looked into his box expecting the worst…but a little grizzled head was lifted slightly, and Monty battled on.
Leo spent endless time getting him to take milk – he had no idea of sucking, so Leo rehydrated him first with water around his mouth, then rubbing milk into his lips until his mouth opened…and then coaxing him to take milk from the bottle.
And why Leo?
Because when he was a little boy of seven, his sister was born and his job was – when he had done his homework, finished his rows of weeding in the garden and washed up after supper – to get the baby girl to take a bottle before rocking her to sleep in her pram. No easy task, from what he remembers!
He reckoned that if he could get his sister to take a bottle, Monty would be no problem…and so, after a day of patient coaxing, it proved to be.
Monty slept and drank, slept and drank….and then began to take an interest in his surroundings. He tried to latch onto the Alsatian – who fled to the sofa and then, as Monty became capable of reaching the sofa himself, would take one look at the approaching lamb and head for the hills…
So Monty is making do with Leo….
We bought the sheep last year – with a view to mutton – and they were a distinctly mixed lot.
Monty’s colouring is predominantly that of the Barbados Blackbelly breed – apart from the white tip on his tail – but you can see from the photograph of the other four that they are a decidedly diverse little bunch!
We certainly won’t be winning any prizes for best in breed, but they are easy to keep, out on the pasture in the early morning to get the grass while it is wet with dew, then up to the shelter in the heat of the day to chew the cud and vociferously demand extra rations of sugar cane and banana stems – vastago – chopped small.
Taking a bucket of bananas in to them needs a talent for swift movement, otherwise their sharp little hoofs have your feet pinned to the ground in seconds while they jostle for the contents.
The aim is to wean him and reintroduce him to the others…he accompanies Leo into the shelter to cut cane and, while not exactly accepted, is not attacked either, so the next step will be to go out on the pasture with him for increasing lengths of time.
That’s the aim…..but I wouldn’t be altogether surprised to find that we have to get another sofa for a sheep….because these two won’t be too pleased