Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Smile

As I returned to the house after morning chores today, I realized that I once again came in with a smile on my face & warmth in my heart. Trite, I know. It’s an impossible thing to comprehend, probably, if you’ve never made a connection with sheep, but they are the sweetest beasties one could imagine. Well, mine are, anyway. (Okay, not always the rams. . . they can have an attitude & it’s wise to keep eyes open. But even our rams are pretty mellow.)

We sent four of our ewe lambs off to start a new farm - Isabelle, Josephine, Kathleen & Nadia. I do miss those little ladies. All were born here last February. All four have *spectacular* first fleeces which I will probably never have a chance to spin. But knowing that they went to a good young shepherd helps to make up for the loss.

The young lady who started her very first flock with these girls was well-prepared. She is in FFA, has read & studied the books, and came twice a week for *many* weeks to work with the girls. That says a lot to me. She worked on halter-training (or, as we call it, “fancy pageant walking”), so the girls will be ready to show next summer. She helped with hoof trims, something that needs to be done every few months with this breed. She learned about nutrition & general health. Her family was supportive in building a small barn and getting fences in order before bringing the girls home. This is just the kind of situation that we hope for, for our lambs’ new homes. Nevertheless we miss those little faces. We still have three little ewe lambs from last year, Mary (white), Olive (gray) & Bianca (a white Corriedale).

For ram lambs, we will be keeping Ulric & William, two of Elmer’s boys. If you recall, Elmer was our National Champion Ram in 2009, at Estes Park, Colorado. He also won Best Fleece at Nationals that year. We sadly lost Elmer last winter, but we are so happy to have his little ones. One of them has already been out as “Traveling Stud Muffin” to another farm. I can hardly wait to see his offspring.

Our new lambs will be born in March this year. Lambing is like Christmas. One of the reasons is that we never know what we’re going to get, in color or sex. We had one year of 7 rams/1 ewe (Blossom), which prompted considering a ceremonial estrogen dance around the barn before breeding the following year, but we never got around to it. Then we had a couple of years with more balanced gender outcomes. As for colors, Romeldales are all one color (well, maybe a star on the head). CVMs are badger-faced, multicolored sheep. But they’re basically the same breed. Blossom (black) had white twins. Amity (black) had triplets - a white/gray CVM & two moorit (brown) Romeldales. Christiane (black/white CVM) had two duplicates of herself. It’s all good. We gave the breeding ewes a stunning black/white CVM ram last fall - Esteban El Guapo, from California. So it’ll be fun to see his little ones.