Currently, our peafowl are the largest animals in our pet zoo. As long as we don’t have an extra paddock and stables for larger animals, we are planning to keep it that way. For little kids, a big muscovy duck can already be very intimidating. We want it to be a fun place for them to visit, not a scary one.
We once had a pair of young sheep. They they were lovely, but on the whole, it wasn’t a success. We didn’t even get them intentionally – they sort of happened to us. A kibbutz friend has a family member who raises goats and sheep. He (our friend) thought it would be a nice idea to get a pair of baby lambs off him and keep them in his garden, so his children could feed them, play with them etc. When the sheep got bigger, he would return them to his cousin/uncle/not sure what exactly the relation was.
I had no part in this plan. When I heard about it, I didn’t like it. I think that A. Baby sheep belong with their mum and B. Animals can be pets, but should not be treated as playthings. Also C. I didn’t really think it was a good example for the kids to get animals you didn’t plan to keep for more than a few months.
Anyway – he was supposed to have the lambs for 6 months, but then 2 things happened. 1. The sheep grew faster and got stronger than he thought and 2. Passover arrived. This particular friend is religious, and the lambs had to eat unkosher food. Gasp!! Therefore, he could not touch the food during the week of Passover and would not be able to feed them. He asked me if I would keep the sheep in the pet zoo until they were 6 months old. They were exceptionally cute and friendly, so I agreed.
Tsemer and Parvati (“Woolly and Fluffy”) were 2 months old when I got them. They were already strong enough to drag our friend’s 6 year old along when he took them for a walk. They were really, really cute. They had no fear of people. They ran to us when we arrived, bleating loudly and practically climbing all over us looking for food. They were also both male. Oy!! Yes, I had a bad feeling about that. Berserk Male Syndrome was a worrying possibility.
But for the time being, Tsemer and Parvati were small, friendly and funny. They made cute running jumps and eagerly greeted visitors, looking for treats. Everyone loved them. We also loved them and were devising ways to buy them off our friends’ cousin, so they could stay here. When it got hot, I tried to shear them with the kitchen scissors. (How amateurish!!)
Unfortunately, the baby sheep grew quickly. That in itself was not such a problem, but they also got stronger and more agile and were not afraid of anything. As time went on, we realised that we didn’t have a cage strong enough to contain them. They went over the fence or simply straight through it. They loved to eat the chicken food and would climb or break any barrier we put up. The chickens were terrified of them. They ate our little fig tree down to the last leaf. (It is only now starting to recover.)
They started growing horn buds and began trying them out on each other and everything else. They would gallop through the pet zoo, headbutting each other, jumping on rocks and scattering chickens. At some point, people told us that the sheep literally tore their bags of veggies out of their hands and the kids were scared of them. At that point, sadly, we knew the sheep had to go.
I was never afraid of them. They were still a good deal smaller than a horse, after all. But I did foresee trouble in the style of Shulman the duck. If we wanted to keep them, we would have to buy them and neuter them as soon as possible to make sure they would not become aggressive to people and to each other. A headbutt in the stomach by a fully grown ram was not something I wanted to experience. In addition, we would have to build a proper shed and paddock for them, so they would not constantly badger people.
It was a hard decision, because we had grown attached to them. But in the end, we decided we simply didn’t have the money, space or energy to buy and keep the two sheep. They had to go back to their owner. I never found out what happened to them, but I like to think they went back to their herd and are now running in the fields with a lot of other sheep. But I don’t know. I think these particular sheep are dairy sheep rather than wool sheep, so males would be useless.
Maybe one day, if we ever have the opportunity for enlargement, we can have a few mini goats. But not bottle babies! Just regular, grown mini goats that did not grow up thinking they are humans. Psychologically sound animals. But what do I know – I’ve never had goats before. I’d have to do a lot of research first. I’ve started doing that already, just to be sure! 😉