I’m looking forward to April and May; this year we’re having lambs! The past few years with the economy and small sheep market what it is, we’ve bred only a few of our Classic/Miniature Cheviot ewes. This year five are expecting lambs.
We have five Classic/Miniature Cheviot rams on our farm, three black rams of my own and two white boys belonging to my friend, Lori Olson of Boscobel, Wisconsin. Last year’s beautiful lambs were all by Lori’s white ram, Oran of Shepherd’s Croft, except for Smoke (Wolf Moon Smoke on the Water), who is a whoops! lamb (and now a fleece wether and pet) conceived by parties unknown through the fence (it happens more often than you probably think).
This year I wanted to give my own young rams a chance, so Maxx (Wolf Moon Fin Bheara), a spotted black ram, serviced a breeding pen of three ewes in late November and my favorite, Rumbler (Wolf Moon Rumbler, pictured with his yearling son, Baamadeus, near the top of this entry), bred Maxx’s dam, Baatiste, two weeks ago.
I also wanted Rumbler to breed Lori’s beautiful ewe, Misty Glyn Little Bear, a.k.a. Ursula (pictured below), who, like Oran and his friend Wooby (Misty Glyn Gwyn ap Nud), is staying with us for awhile. Ursula had other plans.
She appeared to be in heat, lounging by New Ramsgate (the rams’ paddock), making goo-goo eyes at the boys through the fence, so I turned her into the yard with Rumbler and Baatiste. Big mistake! She began bashing Rumbler with a purple fury. He, in turn, was focused on breeding Baatiste, so he let her smash him. I finally decided she’d hurt him if they kept it up, so sadly put her in the fold with the other sheep.
A few days later she was flirting with the boys again, so I thought I’d breed her to Oran instead.
I put her in a breeding pen and went to get Oran. Oran usually dashes through the gate when I least expect it, necessitating chasing him around the yard with a bucket of grain. But he refused to budge and I tried to pull him forward (I should’ve gotten a halter and lead but did I? Noooo), he whirled and bashed me in my bad right knee. Ow!
So I said, “THE FIRST RAM THROUGH THIS GATE GETS TO BREED URSULA!” Unfortunately that was Baama (Wolf Moon Baamadeus) and Lori doesn’t care for his very extreme head. So I had to hold Baama back until another ram stepped forward. It was Maxx.
I took him to the pen to join his lady love and she turned on him with a fury. After whacking him a half dozen times it was as though a light went on (“Oh! You’re not Rumbler!”) and she cozied up to him and they got along fine—except that she wouldn’t let him breed her.
After eight days I threw in the towel, returned Maxx to New Ramsgate and Ursula to the rest of the flock.
Ursula spent her day by the rams again yesterday, all day, so I told her, "If you're jerking my wienie again, you aren't getting bred this year!"
I put the rest of the sheep back in the fold and she followed me (and a bucket of pellets) to the breeding pen, then I went to get a ram. I thought we'd go with Oran but once again he hung back and wouldn't come through the gate. The one that DID volunteer was Rumbler. I told him, "Oh, honey, Ursula doesn't like you, she'll beat you up." But he and Baama were the only ones making an effort to comply.
I led him across, put him in with Ursula and you'd have thought he was a giant Tostito (Ursula l-o-v-e-s Tostitos). She ran to him, purring, wagging her tail ("Oh Rumbler, you are such a hunk!") and he leaped aboard and (hopefully) made lambs. They're still cuddling and giggling among themselves and he's bred her about 100 times, so it seems as though her aversion toward him has passed.
So WHY she was cooing at the rams those last two times, I have not a clue! This time she is most definitely in heat. So we're looking at May 27 babies. I put in an order for one or two ewe lambs and considering their lovely parents, they should be doozies!