Nature or Nurture

I have been asking myself, these past few days, what makes Missy so nice and sweet and loving.

Is it nature (ie her mother, Edna, is sweetheart and obviously a caddy) or nurture (I have spent most days going to talk and spend time with wee Missy).

A joy, never a chore and wee Missy is not so wee anymore. Almost a sheep size now.

I don’t know the answer. It goes round and round my head.  Madge, who may or may not be (I think she is) Edna’s daughter as they arrived as a pair, is still unapproachable and pretty crazy. She will only be caught by rugby tackle and no amount of being nice and biscuits will tame her.

And then Puzzah (Lambie’s dad), who came to us as a working entire ram, had always been a generous, kind soul – this photo was taken when he first arrived looking perhaps not his best.  He was never deliberately tamed down.  Just was like that because he was.  It was his nature to be calm.  And then Lambie, who was mine from Day 1, is a complete hysterical tit given any chance at all!

So, I don’t know.  Are some sheep born nice and accepting of folk or does regular handling them make them so?

Answers on a postcard, please x

9 thoughts on “Nature or Nurture

  1. Linda Kirk

    Perhaps Madge had an unfortunate experience with humans previously. I would say nurture.
    Now we know where Lambie got his good looks from!

  2. Gail Lawson

    I think for what it’s worth, that if you are with them from day one, they know you as kind – nurture. Trying to influence later in their life is more of a challenge and takes way longer (horses, dogs, kids, lambs).

  3. Celeste

    In my experience it’s both. Definitely bottle babies have a better chance of being comfortable with humans, but events impact them too. Sheep seem to have very good memories, so once something scary has happened, they don’t forget. My little Shetland lamb who was socialized by his breeder wasn’t that friendly with me, until one day, when he was about a year old, suddenly he was very snuggly. But since he was shorn in April, he’s much less so. Hopefully more Cheerios will bring him around. Sheep’s little brains remain a mystery!

  4. Sam

    Animals respond to how us humans treat them. Little Miss Maine Coon Cat came to us an adult with trust issues. One could not open a plastic bag near her nor lock her in a room unless utter panic was your goal. 10 years on, she is a loving lap cat as long as one NEVER picks her up. So, Madge will take time to re-trust. But I know you are up for the task.

  5. Kerry

    Aha – one of life’s great puzzles. Do uncorrupted morals prevail in the state of nature a la Rousseau?

    Hubby was a teacher and said some of the nicest children he ever taught came from the most impossible families, whilst others had the loveliest parents but were – to use your idiom – complete tits. So who knows?

    I think your animals are all lovely in their own way because they are treated with kindness and respect by you (except when complete tittery is rife when I suspect you just shout a little and no more than that). You allow them to be them which is the very best sort of nurture. I love the way you show your horses what hoomans want to do with riding rather than breaking them in.

    I feel a deep discussion over a Hogarthian bottle of gin is needed and look forward to that when lockdown easing up permits

  6. Michelle

    Ah, THAT is the question! As you have experienced in your own little “flock,” some come calm and loving, some can be persuaded with time/attention/treats, and some follow neither rhyme nor reason in their actions/reactions. We might be able to effect some change (nurture), but we can’t rewire the critters completely (nature).

  7. Donna Schoonover

    I have Shetland sheep and have treated them all the same as lambs. Some are crazy scared of me and some are so friendly I can barely walk. I think it is mostly genetics as my black/grey sheep tend to be the friendly ones and the moorit/mioget sheep are the crazy scared ones.


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