Breeding Season Begins!

Breeding Season has begun!

Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson relaxing in the hay back at home.
Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson relaxing in the hay back at home.

Last year, I bought Lyndon the ram in August.  After a few days’ observation, he joined the five ladies at pasture. He left farm entirely in December as I had no companion for him and knew that I’d need a new ram for his daughters anyway.

This year is different.  Lambing in January was hard on the ewes and lambs, so I’ve pushed it back to April and May.  Lambing in April and May corresponds to breeding in November and December, making November 1st the day to get started.

The rams had been remarkably calm in the time before breeding season.  While the buck goats at Fat Toad Farm were doing battle and singing love songs to anyone who’d listen, the rams were just eating hay.  They didn’t fight each other and they didn’t try to ram me or anyone else.  How pleasant!

Earl Approaches 2
Earl Scruggs notices that Agnes(not pictured) is hanging out with me and comes to investigate. I shoo’ed her away and he followed her.

As similar as sheep and goats can seem to casual observers (here I cite the large numbers of misidentified sheep and goats I’ve seen in pictures around the internet) , in breeding behavior sheep beat goats hands (hooves?) down.  Sheep have no odor.  They are usually more timid around people.  Unlike some buck goats I know, they do not attempt to breed with people!  Most importantly, the rams I’ve had are much gentler with the ewes than bucks with does.  The bucks really push the does around, preventing them from eating properly and pestering them mercilessly. While some older rams can be nasty or dangerous, a manageable ram lamb who is friendly but not emboldened to challenge people will be a more pleasant experience for ewes and keepers alike!

Earl Scruggs from Ruppert's Corriedales
Earl at work (far left) among the ewes.

I brought Martha, the purchased ewe lamb, up to my house from the main flock.  I then promptly caught Earl Scruggs, the Corriedale x Cormo x Merino ram from R in Pennsylvania and we drove right down to the main flock.  I only had to tug him a few yards from the car.  As soon as he saw and heard the girls, he trotted freely down the bank and towards the gate.  I had to slow him down just to pull his collar off and away he went.  The ewes responded with interest.  So much interest that Earl bred Dot within the first 20 minutes!  And so it begins…I’ve put a great deal of effort into selecting this ram, and I just can’t wait to see the babies.  With luck, they’ll be hardy and fast-growing like my sheep but with fewer fibers over 30 microns and more consistency throughout the fleeces. Today, I completed the “Love Prevention” wall between my ewes and Jake’s three remaining elderly ewes.  Usually the two groups coexist, but allowing the old sheep to be bred would be a disaster, so I’ve constructed both a plywood barrier and a double-fence situation.  I hope that my barriers will slow down any effort by Earl to leave his assigned harem.  He’s got plenty of work to do, anyway!

If you think you’ll be interested in any of our unique Finewool lambs, let me know at sheepandpickle-at-gmail-dot-com.

The elaborate setup to prevent fraternization of any kind between my ram and the old sheep
The elaborate setup to prevent fraternization of any kind between my ram and the old sheep