We had some spare pumpkins from our garden, including some ridiculous-sized giant pumpkins. The sheep like them a lot! It took them a bit to get it figured out, but now they really go for them, and even know how to chew them open. They get orange noses from burrowing into the smaller, sugar pumpkins.

This week concluded breeding season, so most of the sheep got mobbed together back in one pasture for winter feeding. I debated whether to leave one cleanup ram in  there with them for three more weeks; segregating the other rams in the barn. This would enable me to register any late-breeding lambs, as I’d know who the sire was. But when I went back through my records, I could see that usually only one or two ewes re-breeds during this time span; and one or two more will likely re-breed later still. We have plans coming up, so not a lot of time to manage more sheep juggling. And I hate having a lot of sheep in the barn.

So I decided to simplify, and just throw them all back together, come what may. The rams have been sparring a bit over a couple of ewes they think are in heat. This is not ideal, as it’s stressful for the ewe they’re competing over, and there is risk that one ram could kill another. But, their wrestling hasn’t been fierce, so I’m just gritting my teeth and riding it out.

I have a few butcher lambs in the barn, waiting for them to make weight. A few will in December, and there are about six stragglers who will stretch into next year. I hate those! Usually they are triplets, twins born to yearlings, or just plain crummy genetics that will slowly get weeded out of my flock. I have this tiny tot, a triplet who maybe didn’t get good colostrum, that I partially bottle-fed, then later grafted onto a yearling ewe along with a twin. He’s hovering at about 35 lbs. You can tell just by the bigness of his ear tags how petite he is! Maybe he’ll find a pet home. He’s friendly! Winking smileHis sibs looked much better, so he just got the short end of the stick somehow. That happens.

I pulled three ewes back up into the barn that need more feeding. They were purchased as part of a lot from a friend retiring from sheep. They are lean, lean, lean. The adult ewe bred, so I’m hoping to fatten her enough in early pregnancy to catch her up so her lambs aren’t compromised. The other two are lambs, and they didn’t mark during breeding. It may be just as well,their bodies may have known they had no business getting pregnant. But I’ll accelerate their nutrition anyway.

One of the ewelambs is the cool pinto girl in the foreground of this photo. Behind her is a butcher lamb; you can see how much more muscling and fat he is carrying over his loins. Whereas pinto girl has a noticeable spine ridgeline and hip bones. They are comparable lambs in background: both twins born near the same time out of mature ewes. But the pinto and her mother didn’t get fed as well over the summer, they were on over-mature grass, and she’s taken a hit. She’ll likely catch up, but I bet won’t lamb until next year. This is OK, my friend gave me a fair deal on the lot of ewes; and some of them were in prime condition.

I need a lot more butcher lambs, so not all my ewes need to be superstars making new seed stock: some of them just need to crank out decent lambs for market. These ewes may fall into that category. I’ll know when they are ranked against the population next spring! As usual, I can’t wait; it’ll be hard to sit tight for four more months, waiting to see the outcome of my careful breeding plans!