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!

Spring sheep maintenance

Today was the day to try out equipment Roy has been busy making over the fall and winter. He has built a set of yards to work the sheep, including a capture chute that has a scale built into it. Many thanks to Gibraltar Farm for the great advice on building all of this! Purchasing this equipment would cost many thousands of dollars, and this homemade version, while a little “clunky,” is perfectly adequate.

It’s time to see how much weight these girls have gained since joining us at Morning Star Meadows. Also time to boost their vaccinations, check feet and overall health.

This is the basic set up with the chute and a number of simple panels made from 2x4s that connect either with rebar or good ‘ol baling twine!

Vaccine and records ready for recording

Bringing the sheep up from their pasture was easy, as the girls are quite used to us and to being moved. In fact, they will call to us when they want to go to the next pasture!

Getting them to move into the chute was quite simple. In fact we had more trouble stopping their friends from trying to double up!

Once in the chute it was simple to record their weight, give them a quick health check and administer their yearly vaccination.

A home made sheep chute is both effective and relatively inexpensive to make

Everyone gets a turn to inject a vaccine. This is the multivalent vaccine covering Clostridium perfringens types C & D and tetanus.

And finally we noticed that with all the rain we’ve been having, some of their hooves had overgrown (walking on the soft ground, not wearing them down), and they needed a bit of a pedicure before letting them back on to the pasture. It was relatively simple to catch them as they exited the chute and tip them onto their rear for a few seconds of toenail sculpting.