The Nuptuals!

Well, you can see from the photo above that the weather was absolutely perfect for today’s nuptuals! Above you can see Romeo pursuing one of his harem. She looks totally unimpressed! Everything went fairly well. We did have one “runaway bride”, but I think she’s learned now to stand by her man and hopefully won’t stray again!

In the video below you’ll see us bringing the rams over to the “meet up” venue first. It’s only right that they be waiting for their ladies, and not the other way around.

We set up temporary fencing to help guide them across the driveway, then pushed them right up into the handling yards.

After getting them into the race, we marked them each with a homemade version of a raddle marker. This will serve to mark the ewe when she is served by the ram. That helps us when we can’t keep eyes on them all the time so that we can try to establish breeding dates. In the past I’ve made this by mixing powdered tempra paint with vegetable shortening, but this time the store didn’t have the paint, so I went with the next best thing – Koolaid! Just a note, though — Koolaid powder does not readily dissolve in Crisco, so I had to wet it first! At least this smells more interesting – cherry and raspberry!

We then put each ram in their own pen using the sorting gates as they come out of the chute. They really didn’t like being separated, but they soon won’t mind one bit!

Here come the brides!

Waiting patiently to meet Cyrano! Someone is looking at us, and she doesn’t look too sure about this! I think she was actually our “runaway bride!”

And, keeping it friendly for all audiences, here’s Romeo with his girls in their new pasture. There is so much lovely stockpiled pasture there for them to eat that he’s torn between chowing down and making himself better known to his brides!

And now we will watch and wait. Hopefully the girls will take a shine to the boys and all will be over quickly and without a hitch!

Health Check before the Wedding Vows!

The girls are about to meet their “husbands” in a couple of days, and while they won’t be getting blood tests like we do, they do get a quick “once over” health check before tying the knot, so to speak.

This will be the first time we have tried the new weighing facilities and yards, so we were as anxious as the ladies for this to work out well!

We were pleased at how easily they complied with entering the yards, and now that they were contained, we needed to see them enter and pass through the race.

The first attempt yielded 6 of them easily pushing into the race. Maybe they already know that they will be divided into 2 groups for the 2 rams, who are eagerly awaiting the nuptuals!

OK! Piece of cake! These girls went through their paces with ease! I guess that although one is not supposed to discuss a ladies weight, in this case we will make an exception. We were very pleased to see that these yearling ewes had gained from 30-50 lb since June on a diet of pasture alone. Now they are ready to meet Cyrano and Romeo (yes, really!) in the next day or two.

We will try to video the meeting and post it, while making sure that we keep this blog for “general audiences”, if you get our drift!

Cyrano and Romeo

Meet the newest members of our flock! Cyrano and Romeo will be dads to our crop of lambs in the spring! They are registered purebred Katahdins bred and raised in New York at Gibraltar Farm by Etienne and Isabel Richards. They are 100% grass fed, and we will be relying on their fine genetics to complement that of our 12 ewes.

They arrived in September and have not yet been introduced to the ewes. We have kept them near the barn, far away from the ewes. Our intent is to introduce them later this month. Each ram will have a harem of 6 ewes until early next year. Lambs should start arriving mid April.

Roy has been working on extending their paddock area, as they have been munching through the pasture since they arrived in September. In the picture below you can see them watching Roy as he is just about to finish the last stretch of fencing. The weather was gorgeous yesterday, in the low 60’s, but we knew that snow and an Arctic temperature plunge would come today. Roy had built them a little shelter that he had in this new paddock, and he wanted to get them moved to it yesterday so they would have access to the shelter in this snowstorm.

Well, the best laid plans of sheep and men…below you can see their pile of hay, covered with snow. They’d rather eat that nice green grass under the snow! And as for the shelter? We found them BEHIND it, huddled together as the snow and wind were coming at them earlier today!

Believing that sheep, like any animal, are hard wired to survive, by sheltering from the elements, we were amazed to see them NOT entering their shed to get away from the wind and driving snow. So how do you entice a ram to enter a shed and be more comfortable? We can’t use food, since they seem to ignore the hay, and have no idea what to do with any other foods. For example, the ewes don’t even acknowledge the presence of delectable things like apple peels or leftover squash from the garden. And if we caught them and put them in there, they would likely see it as a bad thing and never go near the shed again!

I guess we just have to leave them to discover it themselves. We do know that they have superior genetics. Hopefully some of those are devoted to creating sufficient brain cells to discover the entrance to the shelter before the weather gets seriously bad in February. In a few weeks thay join their respective harems. Perhaps their wives will be able to show them how to use that threatening opening in the shed. At least the girls seem to be able to understand how to keep warm. Or maybe these boys are just like any adolescent males, even human ones, who, it sometimes appears, seem unable to accept advice to make their lives easier, and have to work it out for themselves!