This weekend was the final prep weekend for sheep breeding, which will commence next Saturday on this farm. First, the rams were fitted with their marking harnesses. The two beginner rams balked and fussed, but the two experienced guys stood calmly for their fittings. I suspect somewhere in their pea brains, they were thinking, based on past experience, something tells me wearing this leads to good times…

I trimmed hooves on all the breeding sheep, both so they’ll be in top form for all the activities, and also so I won’t have to handle the ewes so much later while they are pregnant. I scored and recorded the condition of all the ewes, de-wormed a few that were a little lean, and finalized my plans for juggling and sorting the groups.

The sheep will be relieved for the big day, they’ve been waiting impatiently. The ewes linger at the fence while they’re in heat, but that’s only for a day each, and then they go back to grazing. I built a new bridge over one of the ditches, and have been absent minded about closing the gate there, since I’m used to the sheep not being able to cross. One day I caught these four ladies asking, is this the bridge to the men’s quarters?

For the boys, it’s been two months of non-stop worrying and waiting by the fenceline where they can see and smell the ewes. They start to lose a little weight from not eating as much.

I did not do any flushing this year, I’m experimenting to see if my conception rate is any different. Most of the ewes are in very nice condition, and they have definitely been influenced by the teaser ram scenario next door. So I suspect it won’t matter that they haven’t been flushed; but we’ll see! The rams, on the other hand, could probably use flushing just because they aren’t very committed to feeding themselves during this time of waiting. They’ll recover soon enough; but next year I may take pity on them and bolster their diet with some grain to be sure they are in top form for their jobs.

I have a few more late-gaining butcher lambs to move out of here, and it’ll be time to settle into the winter routine. And so the cycle is about to begin again. Five more months and lambs will begin arriving!

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