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Archive for the ‘breeding season’ Category

Anticipation

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Usually, this time of year anyway, is kind of slow time for shepherds. We’re waiting for our “Christmas”. We’re waiting for the lambs to be born.

Most of us plan our breedings carefully. I do have friends who have experienced a few “oops” this year – mainly when a ram with other ideas than cooling his heals jumps a fence and parties with the ladies he finds in the next field. Most of us know who was in with whom and in approximately 147 days or so, the results will make an entrance to the World.

This is the first year I have used a ram lamb – ever. I like older rams. They know their job, the main reason for them to be around anyway, and take their work very seriously. Skittles was that way…just show him the girls, turn him in with them, and be prepared to remove him a couple of weeks later. “Nuf said. The older guys show confidence and smoothness which the ladies seem to like. You can almost hear the Barry White music in the background.

Loki, on the other hand, is a young punk. I say that lovingly as I do enjoy watching him bounce around the pasture for the pure joy of life, nothing more. He was too young at fall breeding season to have an agenda. The world is/was his oyster, so to speak. Then he gets put in with a bunch of girls. Most are old enough to be his mother, too. What the heck is that shepherdess thinking? Why am I in here?

Then it hit him. Hmm. Maybe there is something to like about girls after all. Clumsy and not assured enough of himself to make things go smoothly, he courted the girls one-by-one. I remember the looks on the girls’ faces back then, looking at me as if to say, “You’ve got to be kidding, right? This punk?”

So, now we wait. Approximately 145 days ago, Loki was seen to, ahem, cover one of the girls. Almost two weeks now, it was obvious after shearing that apparently Loki did both figure out which end was which and huge fleeces (even back last fall) not-withstanding, did figure out what this Ewe Dance business was all about.

Right now the Waiting Game is going on with the shepherdess. The girls are playing their cards very close to the vest even though they look like water balloons on toothpicks. When they lie down, bellies spread out on the ground around them. Ripples can be seen if you watch long enough – babies trying to move around or find room in cramped spaces. And as the girls move about, you’ll see one suddenly stop, mid-stride, lower her head and wag her tail furiously. Those darned kids are kicking me again. Quiet down in there!

But just let me get the barn ready for the new arrivals and we get a day of horrific winds as well as the chance of snow again. The high temperature for tomorrow is supposed to be in the 30s F. I was just getting used to the 60+ F weather, too, darn it.

But spring is the shepherd’s Christmas. We hope everyone does fine through the lambing and moms and babies all are healthy…

…this is when we get to see what colors, patterns, and “flavor” our best laid plans have made. We only hope Mother Nature will give her approval. C’mon, Amanda…I’ll take three little girls this year instead of the two bruiser boys you usually have. Please? I’d really like to show my granddaughter what a lamb is.

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It’s that time of year again. Or rather it’s been that way for a while here. Time for turning the ram (or ram lamb in our case) in with the girls and let Nature take its course.

“What the heck is going on at the barn? And most importantly, why aren’t we wethers invited?”

And here he is himself, Jehovah-Jireh’s Loki. This youngster is the sire for next year’s lamb crop – er, um…provided he figured out what he’s supposed to actually do with the girls. I have seen him try to court the girls off and on, but not I haven’t actually witnessed Loki and any of the ladies “in action”, so to speak.
Loki is the result of AI breeding. (Artificial Insemination) His sire, Island Skeld, is quite a nice looking and very well-bred ram. All of Skeld’s F1 lambs (the first offspring resulting from an AI breeding) are white, like Loki. But when I started looking at the F2 generation, I saw lots of spots and colors showing up. We may have white, or some very interesting colors this spring. As most shepherds will tell you, lambing is very much like Christmas morning…you can be very surprised at the outcome as well as excited in anticipation of what you might get.

Three of the girls in the Breeding Group: Loretta, Amanda, and Ailee.

Lacey must be gone walkabout or in the barn finishing up what everyone else left in the feed pans this morning. Lacey was the first ewe I placed in with Loki. I’ll need to start watching her next month for signs of impending birth if she settled soon after they were penned together.
I’m not really used to having breeding spread out this way – a ewe every week until they were all in with the ram. Loki was supposed to come with another ram lamb his age, but for some reason that didn’t happen. I needed to put him in with other sheep for company but the wethers would have really bashed him as he was so young and small at the time. Lacey is the sweetest ewe I have as well as the smallest so I decided she should be the first to meet Loki. She’s both protected him as if he was her lamb and also become smitten with him as her paramour. She thinks I was looking at something else, but I saw her batting those big brown eyes at this little Hunk-O-Ram. 😉

Lacey early last year after shearing.

So, c’mon guys and gals…I’ve missed having lambs around and I know you girls have too. Who knows what we’ll get? I’m not sure, but I can hardly wait for spring and lambing. 🙂
…and we have a growing list of people wanting Sheep Thrills Farm sheep. Time to get to work, Loki!

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Yes, Folks…it’s THAT time of year again! All the promises are over and the hormones are running rampant. About all I do this time of year is stay out of the way and let Skittles do his job. 😉 I had been promising him that he would get twice as many girls this year. The poor guy thought I was tormenting him on purpose, I’m sure. But no, I just wanted lambs coming in the middle to late April next year. Most of our bad weather is over with and fly season hasn’t started – perfect weather for being born. That is except if it turns out like last year when we had terrible winds out of the NE and straight into the ewes end of the barn.

Hmmmm…Amanda is trying to figure out what this black, swingy-thing is and why Skittles doesn’t want to share it with anyone. I thought I heard her say it really didn’t taste like anything she wanted to eat, but would still lick on it if need be. Silly girl! Don’t let Skit see you messing with his tire swing, Amanda…he’s very possessive of it. You’ve been warned.


It was about this time I thought I heard Skit say, “Darn it, Amanda! Take off that stupid coaty-thing! It’s getting in MY way!” Poor Amanda.

At this time of year, rams who are normally placid, even downright sweet, turn in to demons on four legs with only one thing on their minds. Nothing will stop them in this Seasonal Drive of theirs either – or at least I should mention that you need really good fencing to make sure they stay in an area YOU want them to stay in. Many a shepherd has gone out to check sheep only to find rams not where they were supposed to be. I have known rams to go through electric fencing, welded wire fencing, well…just about any type of fencing in the need to carry out their mission in life. And a shpherd knows not to place his or herself between a ram and his ewes. In the heat of passion that’s asking for it. Yup. Cruisin’ for a bruisin’ unless you’re prepared to deal with a protective ram concerned that you’re going to take unsettled ewes (non-pregnant ewes).
Now, any time of year you should not turn your back on a ram. But especially now when they have first been put in with their chosen girls one needs a sharp eye and a good shepherd’s crook. Maybe even fast feet too! LOL In watching Skittles with his girls these past few days I find myself thinking about how much Mother Nature intended these creatures to succeed as a species in this world. Sheep are suspicious by nature with a great sense of “Fight or Flight” (mostly flight). They are also fast on their feet as many a winded shepherd might experience once or twice in their lives. And with good feed timed right, you can usually get a 200% lamb crop making sheep productive even for small farms. You can wear them, pet them, milk them…and yes, even eat them. No wonder we’ve been teamed up with sheep for hundreds of years and more.

Yes, I hear you, Skit…grunting and groaning like WhiteFang and Blacktooth talking to Soupy Sales back in the 50s. Just wait…in 6 weeks you’ll be begging me to put you back in with the boys when you’ve got 4 pregnant “wives” on your hooves. I’ll remind you…you asked for it!

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