Dunkin the Bellwether: repost on the life and times of Dunkin

03 Feb

December 12, 2008


Pepe and Dunkin, June 18, 2008
Loco, Savery Creek
photo by Sharon O’Toole

Sometimes, for one reason or another, a lamb ends up as an orphan. We call them bum lambs, because they try to “bum” milk from ewes not their mother. In Nevada, they are known as “leppies” although I’m not sure why. We usually bring them home and raise them on a bottle until they can graduate to grass and grain pellets. Bum lambs have a lower survival rate than lambs with moms. It is critical that they receive colostrum, which is the first anti-body laden milk that comes from the ewe. We often rob some of this thick golden elixir to give to orphan lambs, for without it, they usually succumb to disease, sooner or later.

Pepe found Dunkin standing next to a dead mother. I don’t know why she died, but Dunkin was a lucky lamb. Pepe (who has never done this before) took Dunkin under his wing and kept him as a pet. Here are a series of pictures showing Dunkin throughout the past seven months, thriving as I have never seen a bum lamb thrive. I attribute this to the vast amounts of lamb milk replacer he consumed, along with horse oats, as well as Pepe’s TLC. We actually packed lamb milk replacer ( a powder) on mules to Pepe’s high mountain camp last summer, along with Pepe’s groceries, dog food, and sheep salt.

Dunkin was born a buck lamb, and while we eventually convinced Pepe to castrate his pet, he never did dock his tail. Dunkin spent the summer following Pepe’s band of sheep to the summer pastures, playing with the other lambs, and sleeping with the sheepdogs under the sheep camp and by Pepe’s tent. Given Dunkin’s superior social skills, with people, sheep and dogs, we decided to keep him as a bell wether. A wether is a neutered male sheep, and the original meaning of bellwether is a sheep who leads the others into a corral or pen.

The final photo shows Dunkin outside looking in, as his peers are loaded onto a semi, destined for a feedlot in South Dakota, and eventually, fine dining establishments. He still has the ewes and the ewe lambs for company.

Pepe, Dunkin, Marie and George
Dudley Creek, Routt Forest, July 3rd
photo by Sharon O’Toole

Pepe, Dunkin and Megan
Farwell Mountain, Routt Forest, August 8th
photo by Sharon O’Toole

Pepe and Dunkin
Routt Forest, September 29th
photo by Pat O’Toole

Pepe, Dunkin in hunting season, October 31st
Cottonwood corrals, north of Dixon
photo by Sharon O’Toole

Dunkin, saying goodbye to his friends
Badwater, November 15th
photo by Sharon O’Toole

1 Comment

Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Animals, Sheep, The Bellwether: Dunkin


One response to “Dunkin the Bellwether: repost on the life and times of Dunkin

  1. Robert Cajahuanca

    February 13, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    It’s a beautiful story that’s repeated itself through many generations. From my grandparents to my parents who were sheepherders and always had bum lambs to care for. Good job Pepe :). Your mother and all your family would be proud of you.


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