I am a ‘smeller’. I instinctively move items to my nose as a way of processing and assessing information and am never happier than when I am in a garden and can ‘nose’ my way around.
I was at a talk recently about rare and old books and the speaker was a ‘smeller’ too. Interestingly he honed in on me and said, “you’re a sniffer, aren’t you?” and he allowed me to bury my nose in a book which was at least a century old.
So unsurprisingly I have always smelt my sheep, right from when they were lambs, as I did my horses. I always said that if I was blind -folded I could discriminate, by smell, my own horse from a line up of 20. In the same way I can distinguish my individual sheep fleeces when I’m working with them.
My use of smell has carried an additional bonus lately. I was discussing alternative fly repellents with my vet as I seldom, if ever, use chemicals. The next day I smelt one of the ewes and was puzzled by a bitter aroma coming from her skin. As I scanned the field I saw the Elder had been stripped of its lower leaves and the penny dropped. They all smelt the same and had all been grazing on the leaves. I had used elder in the brow band of my pony to act as a fly deterrent and here were the sheep ingesting it for the same reason. As they have now grazed the available branches and I sense the pungent aroma declining I cut them a branch to feed on. This certainly seems to be doing the trick and means that I will have chemical free fleece for next year’s spinning and weaving.
I guess not a lot of people sniff sheep but doing so has allowed me another insight into their wisdom.