So, with the Shelties gone, we had an empty winter pen, and I really wanted the boys off of my front garden, so sheep wrangling ensued. Keeping spare rams is a pain in the neck, necessitating extra separate pens from just the breeding groups, and this year was particularly bad. Also, remembering that we lost a little ram two years ago on January 1st when we tried to put the rams back together after breeding has made me really conservative in handling these guys. I wish I’d read this then!
So — we had Bill and George, from Kaytla and Sue in 2005, and I think they are both fantastic rams, so I kept them, wanting some leadership genes in my boys. (Lots of really experienced Icelandic people agree with me … I get comments like this a lot.) Then Buster was from 2006, while we were away, from Sue and Fiona. I think he is just a perfect little guy, so we are keeping him too. Crazy. I may be convinced to sell them, but it is so tempting to keep them. We’ll see.
Unfortunately, they have to be kept separate, because the two older boys are horrible with the younger one, and I’m not taking any chances. They all cuddle up together on the fence line, though, and the older boys won’t go into their own shelter when Buster cries. Goofballs. I found Buster in the doghouse with Bill and George next to him on the other side of the fence all the time.
Then, Buster’s sister Baabs is younger than I like to breed, so she has to be kept separate. But I can’t keep one sheep alone, so I pulled a couple of the Shelties in to keep her company with the llamas. Now the Shelties are gone … So who goes in with the llamas? Can’t put Buster and Baabs together, because incest is bad … Oy. I really wanted to get down to only four pens somehow.
So I finally decided to just go ahead and put Baabs in with her sisters, and if she gets bred, she’ll be the last one, and she will be almost a full year old by the time she actually has the lamb. (She was born so late, July 5th! )Supposedly, that is okay, so I’m just going to do it. I caught the little wild thing, and Frank dropped her over the side. Everyone ganged up on her for a bit and she got well butted around, but nothing serious. Miguel was really interested in her, of course, but that’s what boys do.
It is so tricky this year because we only had the two lambs from last year (one boy and one girl, to make it more complicated, of course), since we were away and Valerie was minding the whole farm. Most years, there will be a whole group of lambs that I won’t breed.
I tried to put Buster, Bill, George and Leon in with the Llamas, thinking that three pens instead of four would be even better! I put two doghouse in that pen too, the one Buster had been using, and a spare, on different sides, trying to give him some place to hide until they got used to each other. But they just would not leave Buster alone, including one mounting him while the other bashed him in the side, and I just had too many memories of poor Panic. That’s how Sue and Raven killed him. So in I went, and put Buster and Leon in the Sheltie pen. Leon bullies him too, but no mounting, and nothing harmful. We have to feed them separately, but hopefully they’ll get used to each soon. I think Leon is depressed over loosing his girls, poor guy. Plus, he’s always a cranky old bastard to the young sheep for a bit. You’ve got to let them know who’s boss, after all. Buster’s been alone so much that he is in danger of not integrating well, and that doesn’t bode well for ramhood for him. We can’t have him liking people better than other sheep.
So, the final four:
Sue, with his breeding group, Kaytla, Fiona and Maria. I will probably get five lambs out of this, and this is Maria’s first breeding season.
Miguel, who hit the jackpot this year with the most girls, all Sue’s daughters. Minx, from Kaytla, and all of Fiona’s daughters, June, Marilyn, Naomi, Selina, Baabs. Six girls! That should be easy for him to settle them all, still. June and Marilyn could twin, and first time for the rest, so highest likely number is 8 lambs, I think.
Leon and Buster in the Sheltie pen.
Llamas, George and Bill in that pen.
We go get the three new ones we bought in March, and they are all bred, supposedly, and each is a first timer, so we could get 3 lambs from that crew. (all ewes in this group can be put with Sue next year.)