30th November 2006
We heard a local farmer planned to kill all 55 his male merino lambs as it wasn‛t worth his while to take them to market. Their rescue was the most daunting one we have ever undertaken. The task of homing these tiny merino lambs freshly taken from their mothers almost didn‛t happen due to the enormity of the task.
Three trips in the horse float later and all the frightened lambs were safely at Edgar‛s Mission. Each lamb was passed from the rough hued farmers hands to ours as the gentle coo of “I‛m taking you home my lovely” was whispered in their ear. But when it came to Mighty Mouse, who we could easily lift and hold with one hand, we decided for his safety he should ride in the car as the other lambs may have stood on him. Despite the odds Mighty Mouse has flourished into a robust fine merino who answers to his name and is quick to take a weetbix treat. It did not take him long to learn we were the good guys and to this daywhen he sees his human friends he will offer a sheepy “baa” and come over to say “hi”.
Sheep are indeed intelligent beyond popular thought. They have been shown to have remarkably good memories and they experience emotions when they see a familiar face. They have been able to recognize the faces of 50 other sheep even after two years and have even been known to roll across hoof proof cattle grids in order to reach tastier pastures.
Not so strangely enough sheep have been shown to have remarkable memories for the faces of their kin. With a brain structure similar to humans, the face-processing system at work in the sheep brain is comparable to the mechanism by which humans remember and recognize individuals over long periods. This, along with sheep’s ingrained fear of humans and novel situations has serious implications for sheep welfare. Far from dumb or stupid, sheep are admirably equipped to cope in a sheep’s world, if you have any doubt about this try your hand at surviving in ovine (sheep) habitat.
The farmer described Mighty Mouse and his buddies to us as worthless, we know different
for each and every one of them is priceless.