Hay Circles

So, here’s a typical winter morning out on Rising Moon Farm.

See that small hay circle at the feet of the ewe in the center? The first winter we had sheep, one snowy morning I walked out and found hay circles. It was puzzling.

Here they are again,

and again.

Do the sheep pull hay out of the feeders and make little nests for themselves? A sweet thought, but no.

Here’s what happens. As they eat hay from the feeders, they pull it out and drop it. They walk around with it in their mouths and drop it. Soon there’s an island of hay in the snow. (The hay’s totally wasted, I might add, since now that they’ve walked and peed on it, they don’t want to eat it. Go figure.) Then it snows on top of the hay. Then more hay goes down. Then more snow.

Some people think that sheep need access to a barn all year long, that it’s cruel to keep them outside.


These girls are carrying their own barns on their backs, about five inches of wool. They are wrapped in about eight pounds of the stuff. And when they lay down at night to sleep, they are so warm that the heat from their body melts through the snow, revealing hay from the layer below.

Voila! Hay circles.

The sheep do go into the barn during ice storms, since these can be nasty. And after they’ve been sheared the end of March, they need shelter because they no longer carry their own with them. But otherwise, our girls are content to hang out in the snow.

Now if we could just get them to stop wasting all that hay by spreading it around.

“Fat chance,” says #101. “Back off.”

Backing off now…

15 thoughts on “

  1. LOL! Have you considered bringing a couple in to snuggle with on cold winter nights? Maybe save on the gas/electric bill by turning down the heat, and piling a couple sheep in bed? Or maybe just stack them up around the house for insulation?

    Read and LOOOOOOVED Hit By A Farm last fall, then got three different gardening coworkers to read it. We all loved it – it had me laughing in bed when I should’ve been going to sleep at night.

    Then I got my neice “The Perfect Nest” for Christmas – she wanted a book that would help her learn to read, and I wanted to get her one of your books.

    Have been checking out your blog for a little while now – always love the entertaining farm stories. Keep up the good, entertaining AND educational work!

  2. Ha! I guess a really cold night would be a Three Sheep Night!

    While sleeping with sheep would save on heating bills, note the little pile of sheep poop at one end of each hay circle. 🙂

    We do sleep on a wool mattress, however, and it’s wonderful.

    I love the house insulation idea. Instead of feeding them hay up by the barn, we could just feed them hay outside the front door, and they’d sleep tucked up against the house.

    I’m feeling warmer already…

  3. Sheep are messy eaters.

    Can you believe many folks ewe’s are lambing (or already have lambed) now here in Colorado. Seems like it would be too cold, but I guess so long as you get the lamb quickly into a warm place it goes ok.

  4. Hey, just wanted you to know I went to Border’s and bought “Hit By A Farm” for a fun read on the plane tomorrow. (Just for the record, as a proofreader it drives me crazy that I can’t italicize book titles in this comment box. But I know I should.) Anyway, I love this blog so I know I’ll love the book.


  5. LostinCO,

    But how do you make a html tag?

    I try typing the but it keeps getting rejected.


    birdofparadise, I’m with you. Why doesn’t this stuff come with a #! manual? (In the Dark Ages, I used to be a technical writer and wrote computer manuals.)

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