For the first time since.... let's see.... about 1987 we aren't going to breed any ewes this year. We certainly aren't giving up sheep (we have coughcoughmorethanevercough) but we decided to declare a moratorium on creating any more, at least for a year. There are several reasons, none dire, but we both need a break to catch up on things. I need to make a dent in this mountain of accumulated wool. Andy needs to put a new roof on a chunk of the house, make repairs (or just finish started projects) in house and barn, we still have 2 standing silos that we'd like taken down (they have to be cleaned out first) and breeding season, lambing season and growing the youngsters eats up a lot of time and mental energy. Further, I always seem to keep back several more lambs than I intend because they're friendly or just what I want fiber-wise or bottle babies or been nursed back to health or good quality for breeding stock or whatever. Add to that the fact that it's getting harder emotionally each year to send loads of lambs to slaughter. Andy pointed out that if lambs from this spring stay in the flock and live their usual double-digit lifespans he'll be into his 70s by the time they go to greener pastures and I think he'd like to not be putting up hay and handling big animals by that time. We aren't selling any of the rams so we can always rethink things by next year when we've hopefully gotten caught up on at least the big jobs.
The rams are acting rammy with each other but not making a big fuss. There's a little more pushing and shoving and growling at each other but very little head butting. They already have a pecking order and there are no ewes anywhere near them to get thoughts stirred up. This morning they were all standing in the sun (sun! yay!) waiting for us to let them into the larger pasture.
Nigel is one of our home bred Cotswolds. He carries color and can throw colored lambs when mated to colored ewes.
I still haven't replaced that dratted ear tag but he's not going anywhere.......
Neville is our other home bred Cotswold but he has all white genetics in his background. His fleece also has smaller curls. He's super sweet tempered, politely standing next to you until you rub his back and tell him he's a good sheep.
One of my half-British boys from our AI venture several years ago. I like his square back and rump. His fleece is very lustrous but lacking in curl, having loose waves instead. I've been working to get both that shine plus improved curls. That's one of the most intriguing things about having your own flock (or herd of anything) - trying each year to get the right blend of his traits plus her traits to produce offspring better than either parent.
Here is Titan, left, and BB (aka Mr. B) on the right. Titan is a colored Cotswold from Break Loose Farm
. He's not as friendly as my homegrown boys but he's certainly not aggressive. (Middle guy is another half-Brit of ours. Small locks and quite white but not so much luster.)
Wee Little Guy, who was a very sad orphaned lamb who is now a big love bug.
Castillo, also sweet and with really cool hair. ;-)
The ewes seem rather put out that there are no manly men around. Mickey, a wether about 3 years old, will talk dirty to them but there isn't much action involved. The good part of our 'un'-breeding season is that the whole flock can still go out to pasture. Granted, there isn't much grass left but at least they can get out of the barn and sit in the fields and get some fresh air. We fill the hay feeders every night and by morning most of it is gone so they're getting plenty either way.
It was so warm (to them) that they all came in off pasture at midday to have a drink and stand in the shade. They saw me in the barn and came storming in, probably thinking I was going to open a side gate and let them into another pasture. Three days in a tired pasture creates boredom apparently.
"Hey, what's everybody looking at??"
Soon we'll have to really bring them off pasture for good. Coats will go on and hay will be the only item on the menu. I love seeing them right now before they get hay trash on their faces and covered up by the coats.
Lots of Cotswold curls.
And not Cotswold.
And lots of sheep with character.
Ashes and Tuxedo
Yup, everyone has a name. Maybe with more time next spring I'll be able to post everyone's baa-ography.