Monday, November 28, 2011

When the Party's Ooo-vveerrrrrr............

Breeding season is officially over today, and not a moment too soon.  Isaac has worked himself near to death.


Ha ha, just kidding.  He was just enjoying a nice post-breakfast lie down.  Sheep sometimes do like to lay flat out on their sides and they sure do look alarming until you see them breathing.

Breeding season started on October 24.  We had seven breeding groups and one group of youngsters and old ladies that didn't get a ram.  Given that gestation is 147 days, give or take a day or two, our first lambs should arrive on March 20 and the last possible lamb could be born April 24.  A span of 35 days allows for all ewes to cycle once and most will have time to cycle twice if they don't catch on the first breeding.  And if someone doesn't conceive, it's OK.  The barn is always full!  We schedule lambing this way so that we are past the worst of the cold before babies arrive but by the time everyone is done and the barn is bursting at the seams they can start going out to pasture.  Also, I'm sure that all ewes have lambed and all lambs are out of the jugs before I go to MD for the sheep and wool festival in early May.  I would never leave Andy with pregnant ewes to watch when he has so much other stuff to do that time of year!

The rams are all haltered and tied in the trailer for the trek back across the road to the upper Bachelor Barn.  Having just come out of their harems, they are primed to fight with one another so tying them is the safest way to get them where they're going.  They were all gentle and well-behaved with us when we went into the pens to feed or water, but it's like flipping a switch when they get together.

Hmmm........I have a bad feeling about this........

Once in the upper barn we build a temporary - but very sturdy - small pen for them to get reacquainted in.  We make it small on purpose so that no two rams can back up and get a running start at each other to butt heads.  Broken necks can - and have - resulted.  It takes many days, even a couple of weeks, before they have resigned themselves to the fact that the girls are gone and they have re-established their pecking order among themselves.  We move them off the trailer and tie them again until we can get the heavy panels secured that will hold them until they come to grips with the new reality.

If I can...just...chew this...a little more....ugh....almost there...

Once everything is secure it's a free-for-all of pushing, grunting, sideways head slamming, jumping, thrashing and general mayhem.  But they really can't do worse than bruise each other.

*#$*#!&*&...I'll  fix you, you $*&#%$&#* !

We did use one ram lamb this year.  He's very promising and seemed to have no problem breeding the girls, but we didn't need to put him in with the big guys.  He's not all hopped up on attitude the way the adults are, and besides...he'd probably get killed.

Nooo!  Don't put me in there!  I'll be gooood!

Isaac is especially peeved at being back in with other rams and worked himself into a state pretty quickly.  He only weighs 275 compared to the two white rams' 325, so while he was hurling himself at them they just took it and gave him a whack in the side for good measure.


Sorry guys, eleven months must seem like a long time, but it will give you something to look forward to.


  1. Beautiful boys! Rebecca Boone likes to sleep flat out like Isaac.

  2. Great post! We have a new ram this year; a young fellow that hasn't had the pleasure of meeting the ladies yet!