Tuesday, December 01, 2009

News from the fold

Sunday I broke up my last breeding group - which was also my first breeding group - and the interrupted breeding group....

You may remember that back on November 6 I went out to do morning chores and found ALL the sheep mingled - Braveheart's breeding group (two ewes), Blackberry's breeding "group" (one ewe), and two ewe lambs I did not intend to breed at all. So I threw Braveheart out into the elements to face any predators alone (where he is perhaps a bit lonely but otherwise fine and dandy) and separated Blackberry from the girls for the duration of our trip to Kentucky so the person doing our chores wouldn't have any hormonal headaches to deal with. When we got back I discovered Bramble had a raging vaginal infection, and started treating her for that. I decided not to do anything to abort any unplanned pregnancies, and see what happens come spring.

On November 20 Blackberry had a doctor's appointment at OSU to evaluate him for breeding soundness. Another breeder was planning on leasing him, and I had my doubts he had successfully bred Dinah. She was never receptive to him, and when I restrained her for Blackberry's eager advances, it didn't look like he got the job done. But according to the theriogenologist, Blackberry is just fine, thankyouverymuch. He enjoyed the physical exam, but that electric probe was another story entirely....
Reassured that I wasn't offering a 'dud' for lease, I put him back in with a dubious Dinah for the interim, just in case she was still open. Hopefully I will be able to ascertain by lambing date and/or color/pattern who the daddy is to Dinah's 2010 offspring! I really hope it is Blackberry, since he isn't going to cover any more ewes this season after all. The person who was going to lease him very considerately called to tell me she had an undiagnosed health problem on her farm, so we made the decision not to expose Blackberry to any potential health risk.

So now the ewes are together, Browning and Blackberry are together (where, regardless of the difference in size and horn material, Blackberry is doing his best to act like the biggest and baddest), and Braveheart is still out standing in his field. It is tempting to throw Blackberry in with the ram who really IS the biggest and baddest, just to teach the newly rude little guy a lesson, but I know that lesson could be fatal. Rams; can't live with 'em, can't lamb without 'em!

Last week I picked up a sack of extruded soybeans as a feed supplement for Russell (recommended by my farrier for faster hoof growth), and decided to add a little to Inky's twice-daily ration. She is perpetually thin, and I figured the extra fat and protein might help. She is less than thrilled with the addition, but all the other girls think it's wonderful stuff. Goodness; is there anything pushier than a pack of greedy sheep?

While not the Shetland ambassador to all comers that Val was, Brava has become my "love bug."While we cuddle, I wonder what she and Braveheart will produce for me next spring . . . and what she and Blackberry will produce for me the following spring. Such is the dream life of a shepherd!

That's it for now at . . .

6 comments:

Candy T said...

I really love Shetlands. I envy you being able to cuddle Brava. And I love her color.

Michelle said...

I couldn't have sheep I couldn't cuddle, Candy. That's at least half the fun! (The other half is split between lambs and playing with their fiber. :-)

Laura said...

Here's a thought - Rams do really well in groups of three or more. Put all three of your guys in a stall for a day, let them get the pushing and shoving out of the way, and then turn them in together. I used to put my 5 rams in the back of the truck in the stock rack for a couple of days - worked good.

seashells said...

I'm lucky enough to know how nice Brava's fleece is, so I can't wait to see her next couple of lambs either!

Julie Poudrier said...

Not to be alarmist, but has Inky been tested for OPP? Unless she's ancient, she shouldn't be perpetually thin.....

Michelle said...

No, Julie, although I have thought about testing all my flock for OPP and Johnnes just for information's sake, as some other shepherds are doing. I have just assumed it is her build, like a hard-keeping thoroughbred, coupled with the fact that she has produced multiples every year of her life (17 lambs total) AND provides enough additional milk to make cheese (I haven't done that but her previous owner did).