Tuesday, July 3, 2012

One More Lamb

Two weeks ago I was outside inspecting the sheep and was stunned to see that one of the "one winter ewes" had developed an udder.  Sheep terminology lesson:  A lamb is any sheep less than one year old.  A one winter ewe is a ewe that has been alive for one winter and is no longer a lamb meaning just over one year old.  Icelandic sheep are a fast growing breed and it is possible to breed a lamb that was born in the spring their first fall.  It's a little controversial to some people though.  Generally it is believed that only experienced shepherds should consider breeding ewe lambs because they have more labor complications and even then it should only be done if the ewe lamb is in perfect condition for it. 

I'm a brand new shepherd.  We only just got our sheep last fall.  Our starter flock was 7 mature ewes, 3 ewe lambs, and 2 rams.  My intention was to only breed the 7 mature ewes and give the ewe lambs another year to mature.  Well, there was a very small whoopsie. 


The 3 ewe lambs were kept locked in a building the entire time the rams were with the girls.  When breeding season was over, I put the rams back in their barn on the other side of the creek and let the ewe lambs rejoin mature ewes.  Everything should have been perfect, but there was just one problem.  Luke, the ram lamb.

I had not set out to buy a third ram.  The lovely woman I bought my sheep from thought I might enjoy trying some Icelandic meat.  She thought I would butcher him, but (like the ewe lambs) he was a little small.  So I thought I should let him grow out a bit more.  He was registered and he was growing out very fine.  I decided to wait and sell him this summer as a breeding ram.  He turned out so beautiful!  But we couldn't keep him with the big rams because they were mean to him.  They'd ram him and keep him from eating.  So we decided to put him in the pasture with my husband's horse.  We thought, "oh, that's good.  He shares a fence line with the ewes so he won't be lonely."

Now I'm new at keeping sheep, but I did keep goats before.  I knew a ram could get a ewe pregnant right through a fence, but we use ELECTRIC fencing.  We thought we were safe.  We don't know if he got her through the fence anyway or if the power went out briefly or what, but we know it was him because all the other males were on the other side of the creek.

Back to my discovery that London (that's the one winter ewe) had developed an udder.  I shared the news with my husband and he had to come look for himself because we were just so surprised.  We agreed she was pregnant and we should watch.  Three days later the smallest, cutest little thing just bounced right out of the woods!  

This little lamb is Devon, born to London, courtesy of Luke.  Another ewe lamb making the final lamb count 9 ewe lambs and 3 ram lambs.  She's in the house in these pictures because at first we thought her mother was rejecting her.  I decided to try to get London to accept her one more time that evening and she took her right back!  I guess I was just worrying.

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