« PreviousContinue »
SHEEP AND LAMB.
THE COMMON SHEEP.
377 The bones, calcined, form materials for tests for the refiner. The ‘milk is thicker than that of Cows, and consequently yields a greater quantity of butter and cheese; and in some places is so rich, as not to produce the cheese without a mixture of water to make it part from the whey.
There are in the voices of all animals innumerable tones, perfectly under stood by each other, and tirely beyond our powers of discrimination. It should seem somewhat remarkable that the Ewe can always distinguish her own Lamb, and the Lamb its mother, even in the largest flocks. And at the time of shearing, when the Ewes are shut up in a pen from the Lambs, and turned loose one by one as they are shorn, it is pleasing to see the meeting between each mother and her young.one. The Ewe immediately bleats to call her Lamb, which instantly obeys the well-known voice, and, returning the bleat, comes skipping to her. At first it is startled by her new appearance, and approaches her with some degree of fear, till it has corrected the sense of sight by those of smelling and hearing.
Various sorts of insects infest the Sheep, but that which is the most teasing to them is a species of gadfly, (the oestrus ovis of Linnæus,) that deposits its eggs on the inner margins of their nostrils, occasion ing them to shake their heads violently, and thrust their noses into the dust or gravel. The larvæ, or grubs of these insects, when hatched, crawl up into the frontal sin. uses, and, after they are full fed and ready to undergo their change, they are again discharged through the nostrils. The French Shepherds have a practice of relieving the Sheep by trepanning them, and taking out the maggot: this is sometimes practised in England, but not always with
7.1977 success. Sheep have, besides this, a kind of tick (acarus reduvius) amongst their wool, and are subject to a species of fluke
THE ICELANDIC SHEEP-BROAD-TAILED SHEEP.
worms (fasciola hepatica) in the liver. An excellent variety of the common sheep, the Merino, was introduced into the United States from Spain about 40 years ago, and is now generally diffused over the northern and middle states.
THE ICELANDIC SHEEP.
The Icelandic or many-horned Sheep differ from ours in several particulars. They have straight, upright ears, a small tail, and some. times four or five horns.
In a few instances these animals are kept in stables during winter; but by far the greatest number of them are left to seek their own food
in the open plains. In stormy weather they hide themselves in caves from the fury of the elements; but when retreats of this kind are not to be found, they collect together during the heavy falls of snow, and place their heads near each other, with their muzzles downward towards the ground. This not only prevents their heing so easily buried under the snow as they otherwise would be, but, in
many cases enables their owner to dis. cover them. In such situations they will sometimes remain for several days; and there have been many instances of hunger forcing them to gnaw each other's wool. After the storm has ceased, they are sought for and disengaged.
A good Icelandic Sheep will yield from two to six quarts of milk a day; and of this the inhabitants make butter and cheese. But the chief profit is derived from their wool, which is not shorn, but remains on till the end of May, when it loosens of itself, and is stripped off at once, like a skin. The whole body is by this time covered again with new wool, which is short and extremely fine. It continues to grow during the summer, and becomes towards autumn of a coarser texture, is very shaggy, and somewhat resembles camel's hair. This covering enables the Sheep to support the rigors of winter; but if, after they have lost their fleece, the spring prove wet, the inhabitants sew a piece of coarse cloth round the stomachs of the weakest, to guard them against its ill effects.
THE BROAD-TAILED SHEEP.
In their general appearance, with the exception of the tail, these animals do not much differ from the European Sheep. The tail
, however, is so large, as sometimes to weigh nearly one-third of the whole
It is entirely composed of a substance between marrow and fat, which serves for culinary purposes instead of butter; and, being
cut into small pieces, makes an ingredient in various dishes. When the animal is young, this is a little inferior to the best marrow.
Sheep of this description are usually kept in yards, so as to be in little danger of injuring their tails as they walk about; but when they run in the fields, the shepherds, in several parts of Syria, fix a thin piece of board on the under part, and to this board are sometimes added small wheels: whence, with a little exaggeration, we have the story of the Oriental Sheep having carts to carry their tails.
Their fleeces are exceedingly fine, long, and beautiful; and, in Thibet are worked into shawls, which form a considerable source of wealth to the inhabitants. These Sheep are found in the neighborhood of Aleppo; in Barbary, Ethiopia, and some others of the eastern countries.
The Argali, or wild Sheep, have large horns, arched semicircularly backward, and divergent at their tips; wrinkled on their upper sur. face, and flatted be. neath. On the neck are two pendent hairy dew-laps. This Sheep is about the size of a small deer, and in summer is of a brownish. ash color, mixed with grey on the upper parts, and whitish beneath. In winter the former changes to a rusty, and the latter to a whitish gray; and the hair be. comes considerably longer. The horns of some of the old Rams are said to be of such an enormous size, as to weigh fifteen or sixteen pounds each.
The Argali abound in Kamtschatka, where they supply the inhabitants both with food and clothing. Their flesh, and particularly their fat, are esteemed by the Kamtschadales as diet fit for the gods; and
there is no labor
which this people will not undergo in the chase of these animals. Whole families abandon their habitations in the spring of the year, and occupy the entire summer in this employment, amidst the steepest and most rocky mountains, fearless of the dreadful precipices which often overwhelm the eager sportsmen.
These animals are shot with guns or with arrows; sometimes with cross-bows placed in their paths. They are sometimes chased by dogs, but their fleetness leaves these far in the rear. The purpose, however, is answered: they are driven to the heights, where they often stand and view, as it were with contempt, the dogs below: while their attention is thus occupied, the hunter creeps cautiously within reach, and brings them down with his gun.
In some of the other northern countries a great multitude of horses and dogs are collected together, and a sudden attempt is made to sur. round them. But great caution is requisite; for, if the animals, either by sight or smell, perceive the approach of their enemies, they instantly escape, and secure themselves among the lofty and inaccessible sum. mits of the mountains.
Besides Kamtschatka, the Argali are found in all the alpine regions of the centre of Asia; and on the highest mountains of Barbary, Corsica and Greece.
This animal, called also, the American Argali and the Big Horn, is found among the Rocky Mountains in North America. They are not larger than a common Sheep. Their color is a light fawn, wool thick, and their horns enormous, so that when hard pressed by the hunter, or even when sporting alone, they do not hesitate to drop from a preci
pice, and falling head foremost, they alight on their horns, and instantly recover their footing without injury. They are exceedingly shy, and almost unapproachable by any but the most skilful hunter.
This animal is thus referred to in the Penny Magazine:
"A few years since, a splendid Ram which came from Mount Parnassus was presented by Dr. Bowring to the Zoological Society. Like its relatives peculiar to our parts of Europe, it was very stupid, but at the same time vicious and unruly, and of amazing strength. Its horns were very large, spirally contorted, adding greatly to its striking and picturesque appearance. Its wool, if wool it could be called, differed materially in quality and tex. ture from that of our breeds. Instead of being curly and matted, or felted into a mass, it was of great length, perfectly straight, close set, and beautifully fine, falling from the middle of the back on either side of the ani. mal almost to the ground. On the face the hair was short and of a
THE WALLACEIAX SITEEP.