If guests at the Ram’s Head Inn find the front desk momentarily empty, a helpful sign explains, “Tending to the lambs! We’ll be back shortly.”
The historic inn’s newest residents are three woolly sheep, one brown and two white, who seem to need very little tending as they happily graze on the hotel’s gently sloping hillside.
They were recently moved after clearing a large patch of grass in a short time.
“They’re like little lawnmowers,” Ram’s Head Inn staffer Rebecca DeAngelis says. The inn’s owner, Aandrea Carter, says an added benefit is that they won’t have to disturb guests with the noise of a lawnmower.
“And they don’t pull the grass up by its roots,” she adds, “but cut it off neatly two inches above the ground.”
Carter says the sheep are a heritage breed, originally from England and Scotland, called South Down Baby Doll sheep. They are not very big, topping out at about 110 pounds, but they’re not miniatures; they are the original size of the breed. Families typically kept sheep that were just the size they needed for food, back in the days before refrigeration.
There are two white sheep, named Mary, age 3, and Sweet Caroline, 7 months. And the tan one, George Hamilton — ”He’ll have a perpetual tan,” Carter says — is 9 months old.
And word is that Mary, does in fact have a little lamb … on the way. “Maybe twins,” says Carter.
The three arrived shortly after Thanksgiving, to give them a chance to get acclimated to the Island before winter set in. The breed was chosen because their ancestors in the British Isles would have lived in similar conditions to the environment on the Island.
They will spend most of their time in pens that will be moved around the lawn to enable them to graze in different spots. Carter’s English border collie, Mike, will efficiently herd them around. Carter says they are “docile, but curious” and guests, especially children, will enjoy them.
“They’re the perfect addition to our pastoral scene,” the Rams Head Inn owner offers. When time comes for shearing the sheep, the soft wool is considered cashmere, she said, and will be made into scarfs to be sold at the inn.
The hotel has hosted numerous theme nights and festivities, and the new arrivals have Carter brainstorming about possible events in the months ahead: “A Little BoPeep Fair, or Running with the Rams?”