Yesterday being Tuesday, there was a crowd of women at Sue’s store, Hodge Podge Yarns and Fibers, each with current spinning or knitting projects, and casseroles, desserts, and in one case, a dog: a little black miniature kiddo who looks like a papillon/King Charles Spaniel or something, with ears, that when spread, make her look like the Flying Nun of dogs. There’s much noise and conviviality on Tuesdays, sometimes too much for me, but yesterday, after a morning of preparatory fencing work (breeding group separation on Wednesday), I needed a little r and r.
Margaret the Wonder Dog is also a little done in by too much noise, so she tends to hover on the outskirts at such large gatherings…making sure she gets her share of attention from her “Auntie Sue”.
But this morning was the beginning of a different kind of sociability: time to get the sheep into breeding groups. With my wrist still being kind of delicate, and unable to lift heavy things with my left hand and arm, I needed Lucas’ help. I went out at 7:30, and by judicious and careful maneuvering of fences, was able to get the girls into the shed. By the time Lucas arrived at 8:05, they were packed in tight (can’t jump that way, or at least not easily) in a corral of green gates. We separated out the ones who would not be bred, wormed them, and released them onto their (non)breeding pasture. Then, separated out the two major breeding groups of jacobs, one which included the shetlands, one which included the coopworths. Then, we separated out the coopworth rams, and released the coopworth ewes, who were a little unhappy about leaving the other girls, but we finally got the four of them down to their little breeding area at the foot of the pasture. Then, Lucas carried two of the shetlands into the truck for transport to their retirement home, and put the other three into the winter chicken yard (old dog pen, fence 6′ high), where they will reside, behind more green gates until Saturday, when they are picked up by their new owner. Then, we hauled the big jacob ram in with his girls, released the other set of girls and guided them to the ram pen, where the new four horned ram, Stoney, was waiting anxiously, and finally, released the Captain and his girls. After giving everyone water and hay, we are ready to wait and watch and keep track of who’s breeding whom for the next 18 days. Not shy, there was immediate action in all three breeding groups, and in one, a yearling decided to follow the ram around, while he was following another ewe, eager for her turn. After 18 days, which is one cycle, they will be returned to gender groups and be in these groups through lambing, and into May, when pasture is again available for them.
In the front pen, Fiona tries to convince the Captain that she’s worthy of attention, while Goof “does her nails” maybe in anticipation of her “hot date” with same. Behind this pen, you can see Stoney and his girls in another pen, involved in being sociable.
Stoney is making nicey-nice to Ava, while Limbertwig, just behind Ava, watches intently (this is her first breeding; perhaps she’s looking for tips?), and on the ground in front of him sits Deirdre, biding her time. A few minutes later, he was apparently finished with Ava, and was courting Deirdre, who seemed willing…Stoney is quite the gentlemen. Sometimes I’ve had rams who just rush up to the girls, mount them, and walk away. Stoney seems like the type who, if human, would bring flowers and candy and talk a little first. Just so long’s he gets the job done!