I needed a new ram this year. I have daughters and granddaughters out of my current rams and would otherwise start into an inbreeding trap . I asked Jody Ouradnik (Just Plain Sheep ranch) in Ephrata to keep an eye out for one for me in her lamb crop this year.

The reason I asked her is a funny story.

I have a ewe from Jody that I acquired at the 2009 KHSI auction in Oregon. During the auction, I was bidding quite a bit, and bidding was slow, so the auctioneer was getting keen on me. My plan was to spend around a thousand bucks, and I intended to only buy from people far away, figuring I can buy from local WA and OR breeders anytime. The wind was whipping, my hair kept getting in my face, and I was aware that every time I moved my hands, the auctioneer could possibly tag me with a bid. So I was being super careful to only adjust my hair between auctions. I was also buying for a friend, so I was tense as I focused on her wishes and mine, taking notes, keeping an eye on other bidders and looking over my pre-sale jots.

Jody’s mom had brought this nice looking ewe to the sale pen, and nobody was bidding. I thought, are you kidding me? That’s a good ewe! I momentarily considered bidding, but then thought, no, stick to the plan, you can drive to her house anytime. I kept my hands still and my eyes down, the round ended quickly with someone picking up the ewe for the minimum bid. At the end of the auction, I was pleased with my acquisition of four ewes from Montana, plus a Whitepost ewe and ram for my friend, and I stepped up to pay.

JPS60224It says here you have five ewes, not four. I had a moment of confusion as I consulted my papers and notes, and realized indeed, I had actually written my own bidder number down as winning that fifth ewe; not tumbling on it in the moment because I was focused on what I had intended to buy, not what I hadn’t purposely bought! My mind pondered the options: make a scene claiming I was certain I did not make that bid, and leave Jody’s parents stuck taking that ewe home. Or just let it go. She was a nice ewe, the price was a modest $200, I was still within my budget and could use the extra ewe. I might have held a different line at a public auction, but this was a club event, prices were very low and I felt bad for the sellers who traveled all that way. So, I didn’t say anything and loaded up her up with the rest. Still, I think the auctioneer pulled a fast one on me. When I got home and looked at her more, I thought, hmm, funny, she actually looks like the nicest ewe in the crowd

And lo and behold, my accidental ewe is my best ewe, her 2010 lambs were my best lambs, and the resulting young sire I used in a limited fashion produced more best-of-the-best lambs. In fact, their metrics are so off-the-charts that I sometimes exclude their data when I plot bell curves of the rest of the sheep, so they don’t mess up the curve.

So you can bet I wanted another “accident” like that! And that was my request to Jody: a guy with the numbers. I don’t care about color or “look,” so didn’t even ask to see a picture, I just wanted one with high productivity values and RR genetics.

And here he is, this gives me genetics from two different North Dakota State University rams which Jody owns. He is a lunker, already nearly as big as my adult rams at only five months old. Triplet born and raised, fed only hay in drylot, no creep feed. He has what has been, so far, for me, the classic look from this line: a dip in the topline and a big butt end. Which some conformation show people might not like from an aesthetic standpoint (though a good handler can easily poke up that backline when the judge isn’t looking… Winking smile). But it’s meat where it matters: in the loin and “hams.” And fast maturation, big pounds-per-ewe-weaned, and ewes that breed out of season. What’s not to like when you view him through a spreadsheet?

He is calm, led out of the truck on a halter after a two- or three- hour ride, joined right up with the ram flock and started grazing, and let the dog lick his behind. As if he’d always been here.