The Eye of the Master

Dec. 20 2013
From the Farm

It’s the Eye of the Master that Fattens the Cattle. My readers may recall the introduction of that principle at an earlier entry. The fellow you see here, snuggled up to a straw bale in a December dawn, benefits from the Master’s Eye. Here’s how:

▪ he and 23 other lambs will not go to market to become food, because their wool is too valuable, so there is no need to put extra fat on their frames beyond what is necessary to keep them warm enough during the winter. As a result, he and his pals are offered as much alfalfa as they can eat but only a few oats.
▪ they live with 27 ewes, senior sheep, not shorn since May, pregnant and hungry, who are also being fed alfalfa and oats, but the same amount per head as the lambs.
▪ it is hard, at 110 pounds, to compete successfully at the trough with creatures weighing 200 pounds.

So the Master uses a creep. A creep is a gate made of vertical slats positioned narrowly enough to let smaller animals through but keep larger animals out. When the smaller animal gets through, it finds feeding troughs in heavy use by animals its own size, eating their own rations with no competition from their mothers and aunts. Should he wish to eat with the larger ewes he runs the risk of getting thumped and not getting all he wants.

eye of master
Mid-Autumn, these 24 lambs had produced so much wool, about 4 pounds each, that spaces into the creep had to be widened to let them in, but that meant that the senior sheep could get in too. So the lambs were shorn.

And so we find him in a December morn, snuggled up against the frost in straw, probably just abandoned by other sheep who liked the straw too but are camera-shy.

He’s thinking about his breakfast. So is the Master.

© Jerry Wigglesworth, December 2013