The weather for this last nice Saturday of easy fall seemed to dictate that today would be the day to mix up the flock into smaller breeding groups and commence Love Camp 2013 here at our little farm.
A lot of consideration went into the combinations this year. Last year it was pretty easy, one ram, 6 ladies. But this year, it’s a little less easy. Primarily because we have Harley, son of Iris and brother of Emma! They can’t be together so that was pretty easy to decide.
Our beautiful boy Otis has such lovely pedigree lines in his family tree and we knew that he would be a good match up for our Bridget, as they both carry the spotted genes and that is so adorable. So Otis got Iris and Emma and Bridget as his lovely ladies.
Harley has already been wooing Ivy and Molly since they will be going on to their new home in a few weeks. We felt that it would be good to leave them with him alone for at least 4 weeks to insure that they are bred and then in the mixed group for another 2 or 3 to make sure. So they were joined by Buelah and her grandmom, Momma Noel.
Beulah is our most skittish yearling ewe. She just doesn’t quite trust us as well as everyone else and I’m sure it’s because she left here with her mom Holly and sister Pearl for a few weeks and then returned without them. Ever since, she’s been a little wary of us and our strange ways. So we knew that she had to be the first ewe to catch or else we would never catch her once she realized something was up.
So Jessy snuck up on her and had some nice sweet hay in her hand, and I’ll be darned if Beulah didn’t pretty much walk right up to her to check it out. Of course, so did Daisy and Buttercup… and it was pretty amazing, Jessy just waited for the right moment and wham! Sheep Ninja fast, she dashed in and grabbed her foreleg before she had a clue what was up. You could see on her face that she was in total shock about it all! Here she was, trusting us and then this??? How could we!
It will be another six weeks before she comes up to Jessy again, that’s for sure.
She passed her off to Maggie, who carried her all the way to the back pasture where Harley was holding court. We slipped her into the field and he was right there to welcome her to his harem. All kisses and licking and showing her how much he loved her and she pretty much ignored him and checked out his salad bar and party offerings!
It wasn’t hard to catch Momma Noel… we had a bucket of wheat and grain and pretty much a few shakes and she was right there. She never misses a bucket call. It was funny… I had gotten in the paddock and managed to catch Iris, who was being pretty hard to catch…. and then as I was standing there, waiting for the girls to come back from catching Emma, Momma Noel walked over to see the bucket, so I grabbed her leg too!
It’s the patented Windhaven “Oh No You Don’t” leg hold. If you catch a ewe by her foreleg and just wait, they pretty much stand there puzzled as to what to do. It’s a good thing they don’t think to bite, cuz that would pretty much make me let go! I just stood there, with one hand on each ewes leg in this weird standoff until the girls came and grabbed them both and put on a halter.
Iris is demonstrating what we call the Sheep drama pose. Once haltered, they just don’t seem to appreciate it very much. But it’s a safe way to move a single ewe around.
They usually leap up like a deer and then twirl around and stand perfectly still, trying to become invisible. When that fails, they flop to the ground and act dead. When that doesn’t work, they will stand and take two steps and begin the drama again, leaping up and then trying to turn invisible again. Needless to say, it is fairly amuzing and takes a while to get anywhere with this drama going on.
Of course, once we got her into Otis’s paddock, she stood up, shook a moment and acted like absolutely nothing had happened. Silly ewes.
Bridget is a pretty tame gal and unfortunately, she loves to jump up on you when you have a treat! So I just called her, had an animal cracker and when she jumped up for it, I caught her forelegs and we began the “come with me” dance. It was only a few feet so she didn’t have any time to add sheep drama to the mix.
Otis was very interested in her and she even was wagging her little tail when he gave her a nice sniffing over and was licking at her ears. For a youngster, he must have been talking with the old guys and had developed a very interesting style of making love in the sheep world. Sheep are very private critters and it’s rare to actually see them ah, in the act, but you do get to see a bit of wooing. Pretty quickly though, she went to check out his food selection and visit with the other girls. It was pretty funny to watch them as a little flock of three walk around his paddock of love, checking it out and inspecting the ram shack. I guess they decided it was adequate and then went to eating hay at the feeder and ignoring Otis as he ran back and forth checking out his ladies!
He had finally discovered his calling in life!!! He loves the ladies!!!!
In the middle yard, we brought Travis, the 6 month wether and Dreamweaver, our little stud Pygora goat. Travis, of course, was all mixed up and confused by the moving around and for some reason decided to go and take on Angus, our biggest wether and ruler of the women flock in the off months. I had to admit Travis’ hutzpah… he went right up and challenged Angus and crack, Angus knocked the little guy right on his tush! He got up and tried it again, and this time Angus really cleaned his clock, knocked him over and stood over him, pushing and shoving. Travis barely got away and went to sulk about fifty feet away. Fergus came over and gave him a good long leering gaze and Travis averted his gaze and got even more sulky.
So, what does he do? He decides he must prove his manliness by taking on one of the poodles! Yes, Rafeka, the angora wether. I just happened to have Jessy’s Ipod and I captured the whole thing on video! It’s really pretty funny. I believe Rafeka gave the little guy a run for him money for sure! This big epic battle only lasted about four or five minutes because when they were done, they were busy clearing the stars outta their hard skulls and walking about a little funny to separate corners of the yard. I believe it was a draw, which was good because no one lost face. The little goat does all watched like cheerleaders on the sidelines. I am quite sure they were impressed by Rafeka’s sudden bout of manly vigor! Dreamy was busy sniffing their little tails and being intrigued that they were totally ignoring him. Apparently, he would rather they be a little hard to get then all moon-eyed and clingy!
(I tried to explain this to Buttercup… I think she finally figured it out!)
Hopefully, there will be some goat hanky panky in the next couple weeks as well. Apparently that is much easier to catch sight of, so you can mark it on the calendar and be fairly certain of the due dates! How fun it’s going be in about five months from now! Lambs and kids galore!
Daisy is getting her winter coat and she is so adorable! It’s hard to see exactly, but she’s much shaggier and her little legs are thick and hairy. She is such a cutie. Her colors are little more apparent in her winter coat… a little apricot pinto goatie!
She and Buttercup just have to get some Mom time whenever I am out there visiting. They are such little doll babies. Buttercup still thinks she can sit on my lap and tries everytime. I think she is getting just a wee bit too big! Jessy says I need to sit on the benches instead so they can sit on either side of me and snuggle. Such big babies. See Rana over in the back, by the little outhouse? She is busy watching the last of her dear brother and that little runt Travis duke it out. She is a shy and delicate little goat flower. Should be interesting to see if she actually accepts Dreamy as a suitor. Guess time will tell!
The whole adventure only took us about an hour and a half! Not too shabby. It’s hard to catch individual ewes in a flock. Even tame ones. Once they get a whiff of what you’re up to, they are very fast and very strong. Still, with a little trickery and some treats and by taking your time, you can work with them fairly easily and I think everyone will be a lot happier!
Except Angus and Fergus.
They do not like it when the ladies get taken away. They are a little herd and that sort of makes them sad. Sure they can sniff each other through the fences and graze along side, but it’s just not the same. Fergus and Harley were bashing this fence post so much, at each other, that Fergus bloodied his head a bit and marked his angst with his own blood. That’s dedication, I’ll say. We may have to lock up all the boys in the middle paddock for a few days until a little of the angst dies down. Pretty soon, Fergus will be going to his new home with Ivy and Molly and Travis to begin his own little flock. He will be the head wether and will protect his own little group of mommas and their babies in the spring. Angus will have his batch of ladies back in a few weeks and do the same. Uncle Angus is one fine protector of ewes and lambs. He takes his job very seriously.
Of course, the ponies just thought this was all silly and ate everyone’s hay.