It’s ram time. The boys got all harnessed up with their marking crayons Friday night, in preparation for breeding. I am keeping five rams this year. Which is absolutely ridiculous for 39 ewes- one ram could handle all of them by himself. But of course, I’m weaving slightly related genetics, so can’t use just one. And, I just ended up with five really stellar rams that I couldn’t part with, for one reason or another. I may put one or two one up for sale after I use them- we’ll see!

Lefty is my bestest, he’s got hams like a hog and really great scores. And thus courts the biggest group of ladies. As can be seen by the red mark on this girl, he’s already getting started. Actually, all of them found a willing partner on the first day. These early pairings always make me suspicious- often the ram is just a little too late, and the ewe will come back into heat at the tail end of the seventeen day window and breed properly then. So, I change the crayon colors at that time so I can note those events.

Lumpy is a new acquisition I only used a little bit last year, hearkening from East Coast genetics. I’m ambivalent on what he throws for a grass-feeding system versus grain, but I’ll give him some more time to prove himself. I did keep some ewelambs sired by him this year.

Scooby is a ram I kept last year to “temporarily” cover for Lumpy, who had a high fever from an infection and was in danger of not being fertile. Scooby threw twin lambs that were off-the-charts on my bell curves for weight, so I couldn’t resist rolling the dice on that combo again, as well as several similar pairings.

Big Red is out of a ewe that’s mostly had ram lambs since she’s been here. I’ve sold every one to a breeding home, and gotten a lot of good reports back on their progeny. So I finally decided to keep one for myself, this one is out of Lefty. He had the second highest metrics of my ram crop this year. (The highest was a QQ ram out of Scooby, which I sold to someone who doesn’t care about scrapie genetics.)

Grayface is a replacement of my existing ram Liberace. “Lee” has a strong score for small birthweights, which some people want, but I do not. So Lee is for sale. Grayface is a Lee son out of a gigantic lunk of a Montana ewe who pulls up those scores. I’ve had weird and mixed luck in crossing the Montana ewes with local genetics, but their combination with Lee is a winning one every time. So this is one of those cases where the sum of two parents can be much more than either parent.

I have breeding groups squirreled away in separate pastures and small pens here and there. Ewes go into heat every seventeen days, so in 2.5 weeks, all should be bred, and they can convene into one mob for winter feeding. Then my labor will reduce significantly for the next five months!