Monday, February 14, 2011

On sheep and maternal separation

Last 18 January I wrote [1] that ‘Sweetheart Vivienne and I are well into the HBO TV series In Treatment [2]. Since then we’ve continued to watch, enjoy and learn from this superb offering. As it’s about a psychotherapist and his patients, a recurring theme’s how when youngsters the patients were psychologically damaged by what their parents did and/or what they should’ve done but didn’t. Mobs of sheep are matriarchal. Rams don’t rear the lambs they’ve fathered. The mothers, i.e. ewes, do it all. And, I must say, ewes are super mums. At least our Border Leicester ewes are. So protective, devoted and bonded. But inevitably we must wean our lambs from their mothers. We did it yesterday. We put our 17 ewe (i.e. girl) lambs in one paddock and our 13 ram (i.e. boy) lambs in another paddock (some pictured) – both far from the paddock their mothers remained in. The mothers seemed unconcerned. They continued their business of eating grass, seemingly unaware their lambs were no longer at their sides. The lambs, in contrast, rushed around their new paddocks, bleating plaintively for their mums. Undoubtedly they’ll quieten in a day or two, then miss neither mums nor milk. Or will they? Maybe they suffer psychological trauma after forced separation from their mothers. Are sheep aware? It’s hard to tell, as they don’t have intelligible communication – at least with us humans. To learn more we may need a series of In Treatment about, written by, and starring sheep. How tantalising.

No comments: