Sheep in Legend and Lore - special joint blog & giveaway with I SMELL SHEEP

http://ismellsheep.blogspot.com/
I talk a lot about wolves on this blog. I also write novels about wolves, I post trivia on Facebook about wolves, I tweet about wolves... But some of my best friends are wild and, well, woolly!


I've paired up with the fabulous review site, I SMELL SHEEP, for a special dual blog and giveaway*, so today I'm writing about -- SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!


*Note - To qualify for either draw, you MUST ENTER BOTH. Yes, it's our sneaky way of making sure you get the FULL SHEEP EXPERIENCE!  (instructions at the end of the blog)


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SHEEP IN LEGEND AND LORE


In Guangzhou, China, there is a statue commemorating the Five Sheep. It is said that the people used to eat only fish, until five gods came to earth riding on five sheep. Each sheep was a different color and held an ear of rice in its mouth.  The gods instructed the people to plant the rice and blessed the city against famine. The gods flew back to the sky but the sheep remained standing until they became stones. Guangzhou is nicknamed “Five Sheep City”, and all sheep are believed to be lucky.

In Greek mythology, Eros (Cupid) fell in love with the mortal Psyche but Psyche had to win over his mother, the goddess Aphrodite. Aphrodite was jealous of Psyche’s beauty and commanded her to perform a number of impossible tasks --- and one of them was to obtain a snippet of fleece from every member of a certain flock of sheep. Of course, this was not an ordinary flock. They were the wild Meloi Khyseoi, vicious golden-fleeced sheep with sharp horns and venomous bites!  Fortunately, the spirit of the river spoke to Psyche and told her that the sheep were only violent in the heat of the day. Following the river’s instructions, Psyche waited until the day grew cooler and the sheep drowsed in the shade. She then was able to obtain the fleece without being harmed.

On the island of Crete, the villages around Mount Psiloritis (now Mount Idi) were said to raise sheep with golden teeth. The people believed that there were such rich deposits of gold in the mountain that the grasses drew gold from the soil, and when the sheep ate the grass, the gold was deposited on their teeth. A monk first recorded the phenomenon in 1415. The real cause turned out to be a plant called nevrida, which the sheep eat in great quantity. Lambs are born with white teeth, and the teeth begin to turn yellow then deep gold as the animal ages. It takes quite a long time for the process, and when the teeth finally become golden, it’s time to butcher that particular sheep.
    
A Crow legend tells of a man possessed by evil spirits who tries to kill his stepson by pushing him over a cliff. The young man is saved by seven mighty bighorn sheep.  The leader of the sheep is Big Metal and he re-names the boy Big Iron. The seven sheep grant him gifts of power and wisdom, surefootedness and keen eyesight. Big Iron returns to his village with knowledge for the people, such as how to build a sweat lodge. He also carried the message that the Crow people would survive only so long as the river winding out of the mountains is known as the Bighorn River. Big Iron became a strong and wise man who lived a long life. He asked to be buried next to the Bighorn River so he could be close to the seven mighty sheep in the afterlife.


Hades was the Greek god of the underworld and also of wealth. Black sheep were sacred to him. He was worshipped but seldom petitioned (in the belief that he could not be swayed) but occasionally mortals would make prayers and bang on the ground to make sure that Hades heard them. They sacrificed black sheep (always at night) and allowed their blood to flow into pits dug into the ground in the belief that it would then reach Hades. Whoever offered the sacrifice however had to turn his face away in case he caught a glimpse of the underworld god. Every hundred years on April 30, a festival was held in honor of Hades, and black sheep and other black animals would be in high demand.

The story of the Golden Fleece was told since at least 800 BC, and probably earlier. The Greek king Athamas was said to have married Nephele, a cloud nymph, and together they had twins, a boy and a girl, Phrixus and Helle. But Athamas was unfaithful. He sired children with a mortal woman, Ino, and then divorced Nephele so he could marry Ino instead. Nephele was cast out of Athamas’ court, but he kept her children. Ino hated the stepchildren and plotted to kill them. Before she could do so, Nephele sent a flying ram with golden fleece that carried her children away. Sadly, Helles fell off and was drowned in the sea, but Phrixus made it to safety. He married the daughter of a king, and gave the king the sheared golden fleece of the ram as a gift. This is the same fleece that Jason and the Argonauts would later obtain. Incidentally, the constellation and zodiac sign Aries represents the golden flying ram that rescued Nephele’s children.

An Irish tale tells of King Fiachna, who was forced to make war upon King Lochlann. He took ten battalions into battle, and slew 300 of Lochlann’s men. But venomous sheep were released from Lochlann’s tent. These sheep slew 300 of Fiachna’s warriors each day. They caused immense slaughter and terror and no one could stand against them. Finally, Fiachna’s entire army was forced to climb the trees of the forest and remain in their branches, while the sheep raged on the ground below, bleating terribly and tearing up the ground. Embarrassed by his army’s plight, King Fiachna was determined to climb down and take on the sheep alone, but a stranger came along with a monstrous and magical dog. The creature killed every one of the savage sheep at its master’s command. The stranger then ordered Fiachna to take over the kingdom of Lochlann, which he did.

In modern times, the most famous sheep in the world is likely Shrek, a Merino in New Zealand that evaded shearing for six years by hiding in caves. He was finally captured in 2004 and his wool was sheared on national television. The wool weighed an amazing 60 pounds – most Merino fleeces are about 10 to 20 pounds at the most. Shrek became a celebrity, getting to meet the prime minister of New Zealand and promoting a children’s charity. Shrek celebrated his 10th birthday with a fundraising stunt for the charity – he was shorn on top of an iceberg that was floating off the coast of New Zealand at the time, wearing special crampons on his feet so he could walk without slipping. Shrek lived to the ripe old age of 17, which is said to be 90 in human years.

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THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Congrats to Kristina - her name was drawn from the mixing bowl as the winner of the stuffed sheep and swag. And oh yes, we checked -- she did indeed enter the twin draw over at I SMELL SHEEP as well and therefore qualified according to the rules of this particular event.


Check here to see who the winner was at I Smell Sheep Reviews http://ismellsheep.blogspot.com/2012/04/sheeps-are-wild-event-giveaway.html 


Thanks to everyone for reading my blog. I have a lot of fun reading all your comments! 

80 comments:

  1. Venomous sheep.. That's... quite horrifying, actually.

    Love the stuffed sheep and Fiona! (you sure we can't have Fiona too????) :D

    Jess
    Romanceaholic at gmail dot com

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    1. Fiona is quite certain that I can't do my job as a writer without her, and I definitely need her to keep Toby in line.

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  2. That stuffed sheep is so cute!! <3 I'd love to enter if it's international.
    And I didn't know that sheep were so prevalent in mythology, especially since they're sort of overlooked now. I meant there are so many other cool animals, but sheep are still good :)

    jessicamariesutton(at)msn(dot)com

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    1. There was so MUCH mythology about sheep that I didn't include --- it's really surprising!

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  3. Only Dani could find all these cool legends...cause duh she's one too! baaaa loved this post. Love this author! xoxoxo

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  4. Wow, that is verrry interesting, Dani! DD is a sheep according to the Chinese zodiac; she'll probably giggle to read some of these sheep facts! And that stuffed sheep is completely adorable--fingers crossed ;) Or is that hoofs?

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

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    1. I was originally thinking of including the Chinese zodiac sheep, but I already had so much information.... I'm saving up the zodiac info for 2015 - YEAR OF THE SHEEP!!!

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    2. yay! I was born in the year of the sheep! how ironical...

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    3. Just wait till 2015 --- the sheep are taking over!

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  5. Who knew there was so much sheeply lore ;0 I love the story about the sheep in China (not even going to try to pronounce the name of the city) I was wondering what an ear of rice was and will have to look that one up. Thank you for sharing in the sheeply fun, although I am surprised that the tale of the kool-aid, moonpie munching sheep was left untold, as that is certainly a classic <3 I do have it on good authority (mine) that Fiona would perhaps like to broaden her horizons and come visit with me LOL, just kidding, but of course she is always welcome.
    dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Rice is actually a grass and it produces a grain head like wheat or rye, just shaped a little different. :)

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    2. How can you tell I'm a complete nerd?

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    3. lol.. good thing sheeples love nerds.. mostly cuz its kind of a self love type thing *huggles Dani laughing*

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  6. Very interesting, always learn something new on your blog.
    Thx 4 the chance!!

    ctymice at gmail dot com

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    1. I have so much fun looking this stuff up! And I run across a lot of it by accident when I'm researching the paranormal and werewolves etc.

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  7. Love all the sheep myths and legends.

    Pamela Jo
    theresjustlife@gmail.com

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    1. It's amazing just how many there are! I couldn't fit everything into this blog post.

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  8. This was a very interesting post. I learn some new things dealing with sheep today. I enjoyed the pictures. The killer sheep picture was an interesting one.

    beckyqward@gmail.com

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    1. The killer sheep pic is from the horror movie BLACK SHEEP, which is mentioned on the other blog at I Smell Sheep. :)

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  9. I'm going to try for post 33. I can't get my posts to show up. :)
    Interesting post Dani. I've never seen a black sheep before. And poor Shrek, I can't believe how much wool this baby had. :)
    Thanks for this chance.
    Don't know what happened to my first post. Your posts are always so informative and interesting Dani. I've never seen a black sheep before. Loved the woolly picture of Shrek. :)
    Thanks for the opportunity.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Sorry you had trouble posting. Some days just seem to go like that, especially with Blogger it seems. Glad you got through and were able to leave a comment.

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  10. damn Dani, where did you find all this info?? i especially like about Shrek. at first i thought it's shrek from the movie, and my first response was Shrek is a sheep???? he didn't look like a sheep.

    smile_1773@yahoo.com

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    1. I'm just a trivia magnet it seems. I have a huge amount of fun collecting this kind of stuff.

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  11. what a fun bunch of information! thanks for sharing... this bit (vicious golden-fleeced sheep with sharp horns and venomous bites) definitely stuck out!! =) and thanks for the great giveaway!

    jennifer.wilson529(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. It's fascinating that the ancients chose to turn a benign creature into such a hazard!

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  12. WOW! Thanks for all the info and this giveaway!! :)

    joellaelbert@gmail.com

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  13. This was a fascinating blog. I like sheep, but had no idea there were some many legends and stories about them.

    I have to say that Fiona is sooo precious! Is she positive she can't come with the sheep as a prize? LOL

    Irishwolf @ embarqmail .com

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    1. Fiona is my executive secretary, and I would be lost without her. That's what she says -- and is probably right!

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  14. Loved all the sheep facts! I love sheep, my mum (being a farmer's daughter) kept sheep when I was a kid and I used to get to help bottle feed the lambs when their mothers couldn't. I raised one lamb by hand so she was a basically a pet and used to leave the flock to eat oats out of my hand when I visited her! I never knew that black sheep were sacred to Hades!
    suzi1811 (at) fsmail (dot) net

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    1. Blogger is misbehaving again. I replied to you, honest! And now it's gone...

      Sheep are so darn cute when they're little -- although you have to be careful not to get trampled in the bottle feeding frenzy!

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  15. Loved the sheep lore---Who wouldn't want to have sheep with golden teeth?? Even if they're not real gold it's still cool :)

    Thank you for the giveaway :0
    kristinaparmenter51(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. If things are going well, you don't even SEE a sheep's teeth. I think I'm intimidated after unearthing some of this trivia about "vicious" and "venomous" sheep!

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    2. Congrats Kristina -- your name was pulled from the big green mixing bowl as the winner of this draw. I'll email you in a few minutes. :)

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  16. Hello Dani! Just stopping by to give love. I love Shrek! I wonder if the term black sheep of the family is related to the Hades/black sheep connection...

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    1. *waving at Sharon* You guessed it - that's one of the reasons the term "black sheep" is used.

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  17. OMG! I WANT YOUR PUG!! How cute are you sure we can't win her? ;)

    Thanks for all the sheep history I love learning new things like this!

    savannahm1987@gmail.com

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    1. I'm certain -- I can't get along with my executive secretary, Fiona. At least, that's what she tells me.

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  18. K the sheep next to the King Fiachna trivia is more then a little frightening!!! Very interesting post!!! Thanks for the giveaway, your sheep is very cute!!! (Fiona is cute also!!!)
    iluvmik16@gmail.com

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    1. Fiona says thanks. I think she's pretty cute too! And that particular pic of the scary sheep is from Black Sheep, a horror movie that's mentioned in the I SMELL SHEEP blog. Hope you check it out!

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  19. well dani, although i live in england, i come from wales, theres about 3 million people and double that in sheep, they even have legs longer than another, because they graze on the hillside. theres always a joke about sheep and the welsh. so i was very intruiged about reading you piece about them.

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    1. Thanks for reading! I have a friend who grazes goats on a hillside, I'll have to ask if their legs end up longer on one side -- it makes a funny mental picture!

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  20. Wow Loved the sheep lore loved the one about hades and the golden fleece they was my favorite ones. The stuffed sheep is to cute next to your pug loved it. my email is butterfli262002@yahoo.com

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    1. Hades doesn't get much attention so I found it interesting too to find out about the association between him and black sheep.

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  21. I love your post! I'm from Greece and I have to admit that I didn't knew for Crete and sheep with golden teeth. We also call in Greece someone "sheep" who is not wicked.

    Thank you for the giveaway,
    Artemis

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    1. I'm sorry, I forgot my email: artgiote at gmail dot com

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    2. Thanks for sharing that fact with me -- I didn't know! I'd also love to see those golden teeth up close and see how "gold" they really look.

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  22. That's a cute sheep but it looks like Fiona wants to keep it all to herself.

    Megblod at yahoo dot com

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    1. Fiona would love to keep it but not for the reason most dogs would. She doesn't want to chew it, she wants to sleep on it! That's why the photo op was the ONLY time I let her see it! (That and because I didn't want any pug hair on it, LOL)

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  23. Terrific background on sheep-vicious bites, golden teeth, evading sheering by hiding in a cave. SO impressed!

    dakota at dakota-banks dot com

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    1. Thanks Dakota - glad you could come by and happy you enjoyed the blog. It was fun to do. :)

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  24. Great posts. I enjoyed both. Great information.
    Debby236 at gmail dot com

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    1. I Smell Sheep definitely has their finger - er, hoof - on the pulse of books and film. I enjoyed their post too!

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  25. I love the black sheep. They are so pretty. I am not sure whether to feel sorry for Shrek for carrying all that extra wool (that had to be rough on him) or impressed that he hid for so long to keep from being sheared. Kind of impressed that he was able to keep from being sheared for so long.
    June
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

    Oh, I would love to win the sheep. But the Pug is even cuter.

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    1. The pug is my favorite too (Fiona made me say that) but my second fav is Shrek the Sheep.

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  26. OMG, Fiona is ADORABLE-- I'm sure you've mentioned her before and I missed it:) My favorite sheep has got to Fiona- what a spunky, odd sheep she is!

    Thanks for the cool giveaway.
    wayfaringwriter at gmail dot com

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    1. Fiona will be taking the reins of my guest post at Bitten by Paranormal Romance on May 6th. :)

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  27. I love the sheep myths Bring on the sheep Baaaaaaaaaa
    audie(at)wickerness(dot)com

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    1. I'm surprised at how MUCH there was about sheep -- I couldn't begin to stuff it into this blog post!

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  28. I reckon that stuffed sheep would feel right at home with all my other soft toys in my bedroom.

    ilona
    felinewyvern at googlemail dot com

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    1. Yup, it would probably be very good for the sheep's mental health, since it's a herd animal....

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  29. Who knew that there was so much information about sheep. My grandchildren always gravitate towards the sheep at the petting zoo's, they are so cute. I don't think I will show them the picture of the "evil" one. lol

    proudarmymom32(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  30. waves to Dani I have to say ur dog is adorable first off secondly now im alil worried about sheep venimus ones and such now ill never be able to looka ta sheep again with out thinking is this one venimus or a were sheep


    mortalsinn@yahoo.com

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    1. I promise that the stuffed sheep I'm giving away is completely benign!

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  31. I never knew Sheep rocked so hard. Cool post. I loved reading both blogs. This giveaway is great.

    Sheena-kay Graham
    queendsheena@hotmail.com

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    1. It's been a blast working with the I SMELL SHEEP crew to put on this dual event. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  32. Some amazing information. I'm loving the sheep legends & lore thank you.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. I love research - and I'm always amazed at what I find!

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  33. Very fun stories. Thanks for sharing.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you - I had a lot of fun putting this together!

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  34. I didn't realize that sheep had such a rich history through out time.
    pamblakekenlilly@yahoo.com

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    1. It was a surprise to me too. I never know what I'm going to find when I start researching!

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  35. Sheepies! Well, wolves have to eat something. Love the info on the gold teethed ones.

    paganwelsh@gmail.com

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    1. LOL - I never thought about the "food" aspect of sheep!

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  36. :O Sheeeeeepssss! They are so cute, i didn't knew sheeps had all this story!

    ilepachequin(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. It was a learning experience for me too!

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  37. *makes with the grabby paws for the stuffed sheeps* i wouldnt dare take Fiona, when clearly shes so very important to the brilliance that is our Dani lol

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  38. I've never thought about reading lore on sheep before; it never occured to me there was so much involved with them. Simply amazing, imo. I guess you learn something new everyday, and I thank you for that.
    Not to mention, all I learn about the wolves, another favorite of mine and hubs.
    Thank you so much...and now off to I Smell Sheep!
    Sebrina_Cassity at yahoo dot com

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