Meet Our Sheep: Cambridge
Updated: Jul 22, 2022
We bought Cambridge from a wonderful breeder who was also in Oregon. After Pocket and Madame had had their lamb, we decided to get a 4th sheep for an even number. I went to the Oregon Flock & Fiber festival for the first time with the intent of getting a Shetland sheep and some new types of fleeces that I hadn't worked with yet. Long story short, I met some lovely breeders in the Shetland camp, decided on Cambridge, filled the truck with fleeces, and drove home after 2 days of fibery bliss.
Cambridge was a friendly boy. He had been taught well and only tried to challenge me once. I disciplined him as I had with Pocket, and he understood immediately that I was the boss. For many years, he was our "official greeting sheep," the first to run to the fence for respectful scritches and overall a happy-go-lucky guy.
He also became our jumper. If you have visited us at shows where we bring sheep, you may have heard us explain why we have a rope set an extra foot above the rest of the pen fence. That is because Cambridge managed to make a standing jump cleanly over the 3.5-foot wall. The first time was within our tent as we were setting up at an event. He didn't get far with all the tent walls closed, and we lifted him back into the pen.
The second time he made an escape was a Sunday afternoon at the end of a weekend at Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire. Suddenly, a sheep went flying through the air, out of the tent, and down the lane. Lavender, who was with him in the pen, managed to climb the pen, land on the display table next to it, flattening one of my wire shelves, flew out of the tent, and tangled in a guy line as I caught up to her.
The front line of a crowd of patrons just coming from the recently ended joust all had the presence to crouch in catcher position when they saw Cambridge heading their direction. Cambridge, confused, turned around and ran straight back to the tent. We were quickly able to get them both back in the pen, then put the rope up as we had for their overnight arrangement. The rope has since become a permanent fixture.
Cambridge has always been one to keep us on our toes. One fall day, I was at work about 45 minutes away while Allan was working from home. Allan called me, concern tinging his voice. "I think you need to come home. Cambridge is injured and won't let me get close to him. I think a branch fell on him and gouged his back."
Worried, I let my coworkers know and immediately sped home, stopping for some basic first aid supplies I knew we didn't have at home in case it was something we didn't need to call the vet to patch up. I rushed into their pasture without bothering to change clothes. I could see a large, dark red patch on his back, a little behind his rumen, about 2 inches left of his spine. The wool around was matted. Gravely, carefully, I managed to catch Cambridge, holding him gently with one hand on a horn while I reached for the "wound"... Until I felt it, smelled it, and realized that a bird had dropped berry poop on him!
As he has gotten a little older, he has mellowed a bit. He and Lavender are solid friends and get along well together at shows. He is also the peacemaker. When spicy little Fezziwig chases the girls and challenges Pocket, Cambridge steps in to break it up or protect the ewes. (Although if the girls are in a mood to duke it out, with each other or with Fezziwig, Cambridge gladly washes his hooves of it all and walks away.) For the first year or so after we brought Fezziwig and Dodger home, Cambridge was their uncle, teaching them how to butt properly and all the things wethers need to know.
Cambridge's fleece is not the longest staple in our flock. We could probably only shear him once a year and that would be enough. But he does produce a nice soft and sturdy fleece that has changed from the chocolate brown of his younger days to a frosted grey-brown like salted caramel. I have one skein of yarn left from one of his earlier fleeces currently in the shop.