Ferdinand and Marley do anyway. Please excuse my “French” here, but these two are little shits. Ferdinand (he’s the “black” sheep) is so headstrong and the instigator the majority of the time, with Marley meekly following behind. Their latest caper involved my tomato plants, which I wrote about earlier this week. I was so excited to have so many tomatoes on the plants and was just waiting for them to ripen. I had planted all of these roma tomatoes with the intent of making tomato paste. I use a lot of tomato paste and love to have my own on hand. It just tastes so much better than store bought.
Tomato plants can be deadly to sheep (and other livestock as well). They are part of the nightshade family and if ingested can cause liver damage. Typically, sheep don’t eat what they shouldn’t, unless they are desperate for food and have no other choice. Our little guys have plenty to eat, they just always want what’s on the other side of the fence. I’ve said it before (many times) and i’ll say it again, who ever said – the grass is always greener on the other side – had to have had sheep. It was never more true of a statement than with these two. So I knew tomato plants could be fatal to sheep, but I planted them anyway, in the best spot on the property, next to the house with southern exposure, in a part of the property that I didn’t think the sheep would be in for the summer. There was a change of plans there, after they started eating my main garden beds in the backyard.
So we built a fence to keep them out and I added some leftover chicken wire around the inside of the fence just to ensure little heads wouldn’t be poking through to eat anything. Tomatoes secure…or so I thought. While we were in Arizona I think the sheep (well, Ferdinand really) were able to get some of the tomatoes off of the plant and must have gotten a taste for them. Once Ferdinand finds something he likes (it was my strawberries and blueberry plants in the backyard earlier this summer) there is no keeping him from them. He will figure out a way to get what he wants. He found a weak spot in the fence and literally broke through it to get to those tomatoes. Brice and I were inside the house and we kept hearing Ferdinand baa’ing, so Brice went out to see what was the matter. He ran around to a window and says “MOM! Ferdinand is in the tomatoes!” I’ll let you guess my reaction after that. I hurriedly put on my boots and ran out to side yard to find Ferdinand inside the fencing. He was stuck and couldn’t get out.
Lots of cussing ensued. Three of my plants were totally trampled and almost all of the tomatoes were eaten. Three of my biggest producing plants at that! I was so upset. I think I cried a little right then. So much work, just gone. I saved a few green tomatoes that hadn’t got trampled. My one and only beef steak tomato plant, that had so many tomatoes coming ripe on it, was reduced by half. It was just so much tomato devastation. I’m still upset about it all these days later. I lifted his fat little sheep body out of there (they must be around 60 pounds or so now, I was too upset to really judge his weight at the time) and started tossing tomatoes out of the beds as I looked for what could be salvaged. Ferdinand was running over to them and I got to see how crazy he was for them. He uses his hoof to paw at them to break open the skin to get to the flesh and then chows down on it while holding the skin to the ground with his hoof. Marley wasn’t interested, so I know now it was all Ferdinands doing.
After I was done yelling, and repairing the fence (that long board on the side there is where the repair needed to be made), I came back inside to do some research. From what I read eating the tomatoes is fine, it’s the plants themselves that are harmful. It didn’t look as though he had eaten any of the plant, just trampled them to death. I kept an eye on him and he’s right as rain. Seems to me, from what i’ve found on message boards, sheep love tomatoes. Not that i’ll be voluntarily feeding them any.
I called my husband shortly after it happened and said: We’re having lamb chops for dinner!
Not really, but I just about ready to be done with sheep after that. These two are a challenge and I just can’t seem to keep a step ahead of them. Everything i’ve read about Babydolls vs. other sheep breeds seems to be tossed right out the window with these two. They eat stuff off the trees, rub on the trees to scratch (both of which can be damaging to trees), constantly find a way into my garden beds, they challenge the fences all the time… Either the accounts i’ve read are totally wrong when it comes to what Babydolls will do differently from other sheep breeds, or I just have two of the orneriest, contradictory Babydoll sheep known to man.