Adventures of Doris the Dorset

Dorset sheep

Doris the Dorset is alive and well, still pulling tricks out of her fleece here on our farm. All others in the flock pale in comparison to this ewe who is so bursting with personality she can’t hold herself back.

A year ago, a vet check revealed that this ewe, the best escape artist I’ve ever known, remained open. As lambing season rolled along, I heard some grumbling about continuing to feed this ornery leader of the flock.

A chat with Doris

Doris and I had a little private heart-to-heart talk one day when she walked up the sidewalk to our porch. I hinted that while I was cheering for her to remain, she might consider consulting a travel agent regarding a one-way ticket out of farm country.

Perhaps a traveling circus would make a great fit for this Houdini-style escape artist. But I am happy to report that Doris the Dorset will live on.

Dink is born

Always full of surprises, very late in lambing season a tiny set of twins showed up unexpectedly on a bone-chillingly cold winter day long after it appeared Doris’ lambing days were behind her. One survived, which still seems impossible. The tiniest, a sad-sack ram lamb with one hoof in the grave, was wrapped in warm fleece pajamas sewn by our good friend and neighbor Sherri Nelson. Sherri then took the pathetic-looking fellow to her farm, urging him along with every dose of determination known to man. If survival is at all possible, Sherri somehow achieves it.

Dink, as the ram lamb was immediately named, came home along with his mama one sunny spring day. Dink was put in one pasture, dang Doris in another, both with plenty of other sheep to keep them company, and lush green grass as far as the eye could see. Don’t bother with fences. Doris found her way out of the pasture and into our back yard before Sherri’s truck left our lane.

No matter the weather, the friendly ewe sweetly saunters up to me as if to say, “Hello again. Don’t bother with fences and gates and other contraptions, although I do so enjoy proving my freedom is just a few simple maneuvers away.”

This show is performed only once a day, and Doris easily trots along beside whoever finds her out, and like a good sport returns to the flock, every single one of her cohorts frantically welcoming her back to the fold.

Fine young Dorset

Dink is proving to be just as friendly as his mama. While he doesn’t feel the need to escape his large pasture, he immediately comes right up to us when he hears a human voice. A calm and friendly ram, he is impressive. Against all odds, he pulled through and is proving his mama’s worth.

A man who has raised and judged various breeds of sheep over the years visited our farm recently and complimented us on that fine young Dorset ram in the west pasture.

“I’d make that cross again if I were you,” the man said.

Doris, on her little round-the-farm trip later that day, carried her head a little bit higher, and I could have sworn I saw that darn ewe grinning.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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