The sparks have been flying!
Well, the breeding pens went together on Wednesday (Nov. 7th) and the rams have been doing their thing. I think it will be RAINING lambs around here come the first week of April!
Thanks to my friend (and new Shetland breeder) Penny Simonson for all the help moving the sheep around. I hope she didn't get half as sore as I did. It may have been too much to ask of a friend. Since it was just us two, we did a lot of luring the ewes into a catch-pen and then closing the door behind them. The trick was to get the RIGHT ewes into the pen. There were times we had to settle for just one or two of a group of five. Then we would walk the pen across the yard and deposit the ewes in the appropriate ram pen. Of course Cocoa and her daughters kept going in the catch-pen and they weren't supposed to go anywhere, their ram was coming to them. We finally had to put them out in the back pasture.
The yearling BFL ewe, Lanora was too cautious and we could NOT catch her, so she stayed with Granite's group rather than go to Dougal's pen. At the end of the day I had four breeding groups and two non-breeding groups.
Then yesterday Kim came to get Dougal and she dropped off a black polled gulmoget ram lamb, Kimberwood Harrison. He is such a cutie! I put my non-breeding pen of ewe lambs in with him and we'll see what happens there. They were very frightened of him at first, it must have been the coat he was wearing. They ran away whenever he came near, but this morning they are all getting along just fine as you can see in this photo. He's got two nice katmoget ewe lambs and Shetland mule lamb in his group. He may get a few more mature ewes later. Our little musket wether Geronimo is in the pen too and they have gotten along very well.
Our poor little moorit ram lamb Harley was relegated to a small bachelor pen in the backyard. He's a very nice ram lamb, but his horns are fatal so he's got to go. This morning I noticed him looking over at Granite's breeding pen with great interest. So I followed his stare and to my surprise I saw my 3 1/2 year old wether, Willy, mounting Elsa! That was the first time he'd ever done that, and he's been in many breeding pens over the years. It wasn't so bad I thought to myself, he's definitely not fertile. But then I saw him pummel Granite who was also trying to breed Elsa. Well, that did it! Willy had to go. He's a BIG fellow and his hide will be really nice tanned. His fleece has always been one of my favorites.
So now, without Harley and Willy, my numbers are down to 25 sheep and only four pens. Two more lambs (and hopefully three) will be leaving this weekend to live down south. So things should be quieter, at least while breeding season lasts. It's kind of nice feeding small groups of 4 to 6 rather than a flock of 22. Of course it won't last, we all know what reuniting the rams is like. Not looking forward to that!