Dapper Sheep

A hardy mountain breed

Dapper sheep are a hardy variety of sheep that live solely on the lower slopes of The Teeth. They have a reputation for being both territorial and aggressive, and, as such, they are not generally suited for domestication.  

History

  Dapper sheep is actually a corruption of the breed's original name. Initially, the breed was known as dappled sheep, a reference to their mottled grey and white wool. Over several hundred years, a combination of misheard words and mispellings led to the two names being used interchangeably. In 4003 EA, a Kaienese royal scribe conducting an agricultural survey noted down a farmer's flock as being 'dapper' sheep. Since then, this has been generally accepted as the breed's official name.   Though the breed is not often domesticated, they have been used in selective breeding programmes to create hardier versions of more docile sheep. There are currently two breeds in Kaien and one in Serukis that have dapper sheep in their lineage. The Seruic mountain breed has retained some of the dappers' territorial nature, whilst the Kaienese big-horn and the grey-faced mountain sheep are much more meek.  

Anatomy

  The dapper sheep is a cloven-hooved, quadropedal mammal. Its body is covered in a thick coat of grey and white wool. Shorter, finer white hair covers their face and legs, and they also have short, woolly tails.  

The Ruminant System

  Dapper sheep, like most breeds of sheep, are ruminants, which means that they have a multi-chambered digestive system.   The stomach is made up of four chambers: the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. The grass they graze on is stored in the rumen, to be regurgitated later in a quieter moment. The regurgitated grass is then ground down properly by the molars before being re-swallowed. This is known as chewing the cud.   The four chambers of the stomach are used to gain as many nutrients of possible from the grass ruminant animals eat. This is especially important to the dapper sheep, as the grass that grows on the mountain slopes where they live tends to be scrubby and sparse for much of the year.
Males of the breed tend to be larger, and have large grey horns that curl into spirals. These horns begin to grow in adolescence, starting off as small nubs. It is possible to tell the age of a dapper ram by the size of his horns.   On the sides of their faces, Dapper sheep have two dark brown eyes with horizontal, slit-shaped pupils. These give them excellent peripheral vision, and they are able to see behind themselves without turning their heads. They also have good depth perception, which aids them in traversing the mountain slopes.   Above the eyes, they have two ears that stick out from the side of their head. Dapper sheep have good hearing that aids them in detecting predators early, before they would be seen.   On the front of their face, they have a rounded muzzle that contains both their nose and their mouth. Using their nose, rams can detect the pheremones of a female sheep - or ewe - that is ready to mate. Ewes also use their sense of smell to recognise their young after birth.
   

Behaviour

 

Social Groups

In the wild, a group of dapper sheep consists of one ram, up to ten ewes, and their offspring. Unlike other sheep, the dapper ram is territorial and will defend his ewes and lambs against outsider males and predators. If an outsider ram challenges the leader of a herd, they will fight, clashing their horns together and showing off their brute strength. The loser is exiled, whether this is the outsider or the herd leader. This happens often during the breeding season, though in most cases dominant rams are able to keep control of their herds by defeating interlopers.   Like most sheep, dapper sheep exhibit flocking behaviour. The herd will stay close together, keep an eye on each other whilst grazing, and will follow their leader wherever he goes. If danger threatens the herd, the ram will often stand his ground, though the rest of the herd will flee to safety. A cornered ewe, especially one with lambs, will not flee, and is likely to act aggressive towards the threat.  

Breeding

Dapper sheep are seasonal breeders, meaning that the ewes are only fertile for a portion of the year to ensure the lambs are born at an appropriate time. The leader ram will mate with all the ewes in his herd in the late autumn. After a gestational period of around five months, the ewes will give birth to one or two lambs in mid-spring.  
These lambs are fiercely protected by the herd. For the first few months of their life, they feed solely on their mother's milk, and then progress to eating grass and other foliage like the rest of the herd.   At around six months, the lambs are considered adolescent and are sexually mature. The males leave the herd to start their own, often accompanied by a couple of females. Some females stay with the herd to continue the cycle.
 

Domestication

  Domestication of dapper sheep is hard due their aggressive and territorial nature, though not impossible. There are less than ten farmers across both Serukis and Kaien who keep herds of dapper sheep, and all of them are located in their natural habitat - the low slopes of The Teeth. These herds consist of one ram and a number of ewes; the exact number depends on the size of the farm and the financial status of the farmer.   Dapper sheep are kept primarily for their mottled wool, which is prized due to its varying shades of grey and white. Unlike many other breeds of sheep, dapper sheep have not been selectively bred, and therefore do not require regular shearing for their quality of life. Farmers shear dapper sheep in late spring, generally after lambing season, when they no longer need their woollen coats to protect them from the cold.   After the lambing season, male lambs are generally slaughtered for their meat. If a herd gets too large or unwieldy, older females will also be butchered for meat. Mutton is a staple protein in the foothills of The Teeth.   During the summer, domesticated dapper sheep are herded up the mountain slopes from the farmers' fields. They spend the warmer months grazing on the foliage the mountain has to offer, before being brought back down to the fields in the late autumn. Over the winter, they are fed on hay that the farmer has stockpiled.   When the herds are on the mountain slopes, they are accompanied by two shepherds, who stay alongside them for the duration. These are often the farmers' sons or hired hands. The shepherds stay in weather-proof tents, and are armed with a wooden club and a hand axe.   Their job is to protect the herd from predators and wild rams. Wild rams are actually more dangerous to a domesticated herd, as the wild ram is likely to win against the farmer's own and then make off with the ewes. This costs both time and money.   Domesticated dapper sheep are marked with a metal tag in their left ear. This is particularly useful if one gets lost or wanders, as the tag is used to prove ownership and to separate domesticated sheep from wild ones.
Also Known As
Dappled Sheep, Dappers
 
Lifespan
10-12 years
 
Average Weight
250-300lbs
 
Average Height
1m (to withers)
 
Type
Sheep

Ramsay

  Ramsay (5102-5113 EA) was a famous dapper ram who lived in the Seruic village of Alderbrook.   As a lamb, he somehow found himself in the kitchen of farmer Renton Dale, having got separated from the other male lambs who had been separated for slaughter.   Luckily for him, the farmer's adolescent daughter, Anna, found him first, huddled against the stove for warmth. She begged her father to let her keep the lamb and her father acquiesced.   Ramsay grew quickly, and soon he had overtaken one of the downstairs rooms of the farmhouse. Anna purchased him a double bed with the money she earned from keeping chickens and selling their eggs; another project her father had allowed her to undertake. Soon, the legs on the bed were broken under Ramsay's weight, but he slept there happily every night.   Though Ramsay had been castrated as a lamb, he was still territorial and protective of his adoptive family. He accompanied Anna wherever she went and became a frequent sight in the village.   He was known for creating mischief and would often eat flowers out of other people's window boxes, or out of their gardens. One time, when the local lord came to visit the village, Ramsay ate a bouquet of flowers before it was presented, leaving only a bunch of stems. Luckily, the lord found this amusing.   After this, he would visit the lord's castle several times, for the entertainment of the lord and his family, who enjoyed seeing him roam their grounds. Anna would accompany him, of course, and on the first occasion she presented the lord with one of her chickens.   Ramsay also brought money into the village from tourists visiting to catch a glimpse of him, and was a frequent attendee of village festivals.   Ramsay died of natural causes when he was eleven years old. The lord paid for a stone statue of him to be erected in the village square, as a tribute to the hours of pleasure he had brought him and his family.
 


Cover image: by Atlantios

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
8 Jan, 2021 12:05

I really am obsessed with the way you describe animals, its a skill I truly envy. I really admire the way you nail the anatomical details while still making it interesting to read. Also mandatory SHEEEEEEP!!! I love them, and I loved the story of Ramsay, I'm glad they built a statue of him.

Feel free to check out my submission to the Peculiar Plant Challenge !
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
8 Jan, 2021 12:22

Aw thank you! I love sheep too! <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
8 Jan, 2021 12:49

I love the detail in this article. It was really interesting to hear how "dapper" came to be, and the differences between domesticated and wild dapper sheep. Also, Ramsay sounds like a lot of fun. I'm glad Anna was able to save him.

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
8 Jan, 2021 18:05

Thank you! :D Ramsay is probably my favourite bit of this article.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
8 Jan, 2021 13:06

I love Ramsay, he sounds like an absolute delight! And all the information about them is wonderful- especially the fact you included a bit about the Ruminant system; I typically just outlink to that kind of information but it really was a nice touch to the article!

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
8 Jan, 2021 18:05

Thanks! I thought about linking to Wikipedia there but thought having all the information in one place was probably a good idea. :)

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
Journeyman David_Ulph
David Alexander
8 Jan, 2021 15:34

I am a simple shepherd, I see sheep and I like. In honesty though, this article is written fantastically and I *love* Ramsay which elevates the whole piece to a new level in my opinion (alongside the extremely lifelike way the breed gets it's name, historical inaccuracies are amazing).   Also, as a side note "Ramsay" could easily be the name of an island in the Hebrides and I wouldn't be surprised if it actually is somewhere with the Gaelic-Norse naming structure we have going on over here (eg Grimsay = Grim's Isle, Eriskay = Erik's Isle).

Latha math leat! Sending praise from the Hebrides! Check out my peculiar plant - Lungroot
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
8 Jan, 2021 18:06

Aw, thank you - I was hoping to get your approval since you're an actual shepherd and all! :D   That wouldn't surprise me either, actually. :D Ramsay would be Ram's Isle, I guess.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
8 Jan, 2021 16:03

I am now imagining a sheep wearing a tophat.   I hope you're happy.

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
8 Jan, 2021 18:10

Haha, I'll be honest - I was imagining that through a lot of this writing. :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
8 Jan, 2021 16:41

I love them. I would die for them. And Ramsay is incredible. Well done, and I'm living for the formatting work you've done!

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
8 Jan, 2021 18:10

Thank you! I had fun playing with containers! :D <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
Sage SailingOcelot
Sailing Ocelot
9 Jan, 2021 00:59

Lovely article, Emy. I quite like the word dapper, especially as we use that word to describe someone, usually a gentleman, who looks dressed up and tidy. I particularly enjoyed reading about Ramsay, this also reminds me of a story about a local goat who would visit a pub frequently...

~~~~~~~~ SailingOcelot
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
9 Jan, 2021 13:15

I admit, I pictured sheep wearing top hats for a lot of this, though that wasn't my intention, haha.   I'm curious about the goat! :D   Thank you! <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
Sage SailingOcelot
Sailing Ocelot
10 Jan, 2021 03:10

The goat's name is Eric. He made the newspaper https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/eric-pygmy-goat-loves-trips-12014897 and ended up in a television court program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sksPyCch08s   Hope you find it interesting. Glad they made a statue for Ramsay :) I wonder if Eric will get one too?

~~~~~~~~ SailingOcelot
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
10 Jan, 2021 13:12

Eric is so adorable! And hahaha, I love Judge Rinder, that's amazing. :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
9 Jan, 2021 11:54

I really love the layout of this article and even though sheep kinda freak me out (it's those eyes) I enjoyed reading about these ones! I especially love Ramsay. <3   One thing I'm unsure about is this little bit: "Dapper sheep are kept primarily for their mottled wool, which is prized due to its varying shades of grey and white. Unlike many other breeds of sheep, dapper sheep have not been selectively bred for their wool, and therefore do not require regular shearing for their quality of life." It seems to contradict itself saying they're prized for their wool, but not selectively bred for it. Have I missed it or what is their primary reason for domestication - is it simply for their meat? Sorry if that's just me misunderstanding! A great article though! <3

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
9 Jan, 2021 13:18

I need to make that more clear - it's more that they haven't been bred so their wool grows and grows and grows, so they don't *need* to be shorn. But the ones that are kept are shorn for their wool. I'll have to reword that to make it clearer, thank you!   I agree - sheep have freaky eyes. o.o

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
9 Jan, 2021 16:30

Sheepies! ^^ But I must admit that when I read "Dapper" my mind finished it with "Capricorn". :P I wonder if that was the inspiration?   I remember the Discord discussion, when we learned about some of these facts. And it's so cozy to read with all the small details on how they look, how they behave, how they eat... Things become much easier to grasp.   But you understand that the more you write like that, the hungrier the readers will get to find these in real life situation from The Teeth? (I want a piece of story :3)

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
9 Jan, 2021 18:40

Haha, it wasn't, but now I'm also going to finish it with 'Capricorn' XD XD   Thank you! I definitely need to do some actual fiction writing soon! :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
Master Brinsmead
Caitlin Phillips
13 Jan, 2021 14:26

I really liked this artilce. It's so fun and quirky with the story of Ramsay! You have such a gift in making these articles interesting to read.

Cait x
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
13 Jan, 2021 18:17

Thank you!

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
27 Jan, 2021 06:30

I'm impressed with the amount of work you put in to describe something so mundane as sheep breeding :)

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
27 Jan, 2021 10:26

Aw, thank you! :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
Powered by World Anvil