The rhythm of the seasons has shifted gears, we are finally moving into winter mode, with cooler temperatures and more rain. Maybe our first good frost coming next week. It has been a stellar summer and fall, with just the right mix of sun and rain to keep the grass growing well. I still have grass to graze, and it’s still growing now.

Last weekend was the start of breeding season for me.

I am using four rams again. It’s always a several-hour chore to sort the ewes into their breeding groups, and move them to their pen with their assigned ram. I bring a 4×6 index card to the field with me, sort each ewe I’m looking for through a gate, then cross her off the list. When I have the group, I go back through the list double-checking each ewe, then doing a final headcount. All this before I move them off to their new quarters. If I discover after all this sorting and moving that I’ve made a mistake and put a ewe in the wrong group, it is a real headache to move just that one to where she should be. So triple-checking is good.

I managed to “load balance” the rams nearly equally this year. This is better for NSIP comparisons, if each one has a good sample size. And it’s easier for feeding: I can measure four equal grain buckets for delivery to each group. I believe I may get by with not needing to feed hay until breeding is done two more weeks from now. It’s nice not having to feed hay twice daily in the small groups, but is more work moving fencing for two groups (two more are set-stocked in larger pastures). This is probably the biggest pain-in-the-butt time of year with all the extra chores of managing five groups (a fifth group of ram lambs and wethers is in the barn). It’ll be a welcome change to kick them all into winter quarters and start feeding hay to one big group for winter.

Orange mark? Hard to tell...With the change of daylight savings, I’m doing chores in the dark. It’s sometimes hard to make out the crayon marks from the rams, so that I can note each ewe’s breeding date. I think I’ve decided that orange is the worst color for me, since I have so many brownish ewes. I often stare with my headlamp, trying to discern whether I see a mark, or just faded wool coloration. On the weekends when I can look at them in daylight, it becomes more clear.

Others, however, are abundantly clear, daylight or dark. This ram is very thorough! On a ewelamb, no less!Smile