Puffy – One-of-a-Kind

Written on 01/20/2021

When we get going with stories of life on the farm, it is not unusual for one of my ewes named "Puffy" to work her way into the narrative. She is one of the original 25 “ladies” that transferred to us with the purchase of the farm. I think she is actually the oldest of the bunch – based on the triangle shape of her faded-yellow ear tag. By her teeth (she still has enough to graze longer grass), I would guess she is around 8 years old, possibly 9.

Her name, "Puffy" is actually short for "Staypuff" – as in "Staypuff marshmallows" – a nickname she was given during our first year of lambing. She was the last mama to lamb – and, even though I didn't realize until she had them (the year we didn't know to scan the ewes) – she was carrying triplets.

As a result, she grew to be quite large in pregnancy. Her soft white, long fleece contributed to the marshmallow look. A GIANT white fluff ball with what, at the time, seemed like a very small head attached.

When the moment arrived, she easily and unassisted, popped out triplets. She was quite pleased with herself and her new lambs, doting over them like none of the other mothers and their own lambs. She has a bit of “horny” mountain ewe in her, which is a breed well known for excellent mothering skills – and, I would say, I agree. 

Puffy tends to keep to herself. A quiet, gentle ewe, eager to stay close to the other ladies – but with a little distance between them. She always greets me at the gate (probably looking for the "bucket" of nuts), but I like to believe she likes me, even though I know better.

While she no longer provides lambs, Puffy (and a few others) will remain on the farm as long as she's able to graze grass on her own. Later in the fall, I can supplement with a little grain if she needs it, when the grass is too short for her to "grab".  I always give her a bit of extra feed when I bring them grain. She gets a "private" stainless steel bowl of her own – while the others eat the pellets from the grass or in a trough. I don't mind. She's a bit of a matriarch. The leading lady on the farm. She also makes a GREAT “baby sitter” when the fox decides to make trouble for the current year’s new lambs after weaning. As a lowland/mountain cross breed sheep, her large size spooks off fox and friends looking for an easy grab.

As a mother, she always had wonderful lambs, and any that were ewe lambs I kept as replacements to join my breeding flock. Two of her lambs are in the group lambing this year for the first time. I expect them to be similar in mothering tendencies, as it does seem to be a hereditary trait. So perhaps a "new" Puffy will emerge as the next generation of ladies finish up lambing and move to retired status. 

We hope so!