Walking through the Farmer’s front lawn one afternoon, Coral the Mouse finds herself in a small cluster of “Butter and Eggs”–the name of an invasive species of flowers that sometimes grows in patches at Rennwood Farm.
Coral has always loved the fanciful name of this weed, even though the plant itself can sometimes cause harm to native Minnesota flowers.
Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris) are unique and cheerful, but Coral knows that the Farmer will come along soon and remove them from his lawn. He would not want the patch to spread and take hold in the sandy prairie beside his farm.
Looking to the end of the Butter and Eggs cluster, Coral sees that the Farmer has let his sheep out to graze in front of his house. The little mouse hurries across the lawn to greet these gentle farm animals.
Portable fencing keeps the sheep safe while they eat green grass and nibble tasty willow leaves hanging just at their level.
The Farmer cares for his flock (group of sheep) by leading them to different areas of green grass at Rennwood Farm. He makes sure they have shade to lie down in and fresh water to drink.
He knows what they need to stay healthy and well and helps them if they are in danger.
A good Farmer works hard to take care of his flock!
Coral climbs into the sheep’s wooden grain trough to see the sheep at their eye level. Sweet Martha, one of the older “ewes” (a female sheep) is the first to amble over and say hello.
Next Camilla stops by to see who this guest is, standing where the grain should be.
A few pieces of spilled grain on the ground get Camilla’s attention, and she’s soon back to grazing on the lawn.
Domestic sheep (Ovis aries) spend most of their life eating grass and “chewing their cud.” Grass is hard to digest, so sheep have a special stomach with four compartments. The “rumen” is one compartment which holds chewed up grass and grain from a sheep’s meal.
After eating, a sheep lies down to rest. While resting, the sheep burps up partially digested food from its rumen. This lump of grass and grain is the “cud.” A sheep chews its cud for long periods of time then re-swallows for full digestion in a different stomach compartment.
Sheep are amazing creatures!
Sheep are also curious creatures.
After seeing Camilla sniffing around the grain trough, several other sheep run over to search for spilled grains as well. Coral peeks over the edge of her perch, watching the action.
Suddenly, Coral spots a problem. One hungry lamb has found a grain scoop on the ground and has worked its head too far in, sniffing for scraps of feed.
Thankfully, the Farmer’s youngest son hears the commotion and runs to help.
But before he gets there, the lamb tosses its head, and off flies the scoop.
It’s a good reminder to the Farmer’s son to clean up any buckets and scoops lying on the ground. These things can be dangerous for a curious lamb!
Seeing his friend Coral standing in the trough gives the Farmer’s son an idea: Would Coral like a ride in the silver scoop?
She certainly would!
A young ram (male sheep) with curving horns, and a brown ewe named Lilac investigate the grain scoop carrying a “flying” mouse.
The Farmer’s youngest son is such a good sport. He happily zooms Coral over to a patch of orange Daylillies (Hemerocallis fulva) so she can get a close look at the beautiful orange blooms.
Daylillies, like the Butter and Egg blooms, are not native to Minnesota. However, Daylillies are not considered harmful to native flowers, and many people plant them to enjoy their beauty each year.
While the Farmer’s son completes his evening chores, Coral returns to the sheep and says good-bye. Sweet Martha and the rest of the flock move and munch on the lawn while Coral enjoys the peaceful scene.
Good-night, Coral, until the next adventure!
~ Have you seen sheep up close?
~ Did you get to feel their thick wool and maybe feed them by hand?
~ What is another farm animal that you have seen and been near?
~ If you were a farmer, what animals would you raise on your farm?