Friday, January 20, 2012

no lambs?

I started filming the next webinar, set for the month of February today. It'll be a Wool 101 type video, going from raw sheep's wool to yarn with nothing but some dish soap in a tub, a carder (hand or drum), and a drop spindle. Wool is all over my head right now. I'm sending out CSA share packages, planning a spindle gathering for tomorrow, and all of it to prepare for the at-farm workshop next week. This place looks more like a yarn factory than a farmhouse right now.

The living woolies outside, the ones on the hoof, seem to be wintering well. I'd like them a little fatter, but everyone is in hearty spirits and ambling through the light dusting of snow we received last night. I'm a little sad to announce there may not be lambs this year. I don't have much faith in Atlas, that he did the job. It wasn't his fault as much as it was this shepherd's failure to offer the right circumstances for success. I put a too-small and too-young ram in with a flock already protected by a wether (named Sal) who still thinks he can work the ladies. So little Atlas couldn't sneak in any hits unless Sal was penned up or not watching. I don't know if the work was done or not, but I didn't see any real gripping evidence it was.

What may happen is one or two ewes might be pregnant, but not the numbers I was hoping for. I suppose only time will tell. In the meantime, I will treat them all as if they were pregnant and start feeding them accordingly, same with their mineral intake. I'll know for certain in late March or April if any little ones will arrive. I hope so. It's kind of a tough blow, but a lesson well learned.

photo by timothy bronson of


Blogger hayes8705 said...

I'm sorry, Jenna--that must be disappointing. I'll hold out hope that you'll see some little ones come spring!!

January 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I hope they surprise you and you have a good number of pregnant ewes. Can you breed them during the winter, or are they only in season in the fall? I bought two young Nigerian Dwarf goat bucks in November, and I think one doe is pregnant, but the other is not. The one buck was very enthusiastic, but didn't seem to quite know what to do, and the doe got tired of being blubbered on after a few minutes and then wouldn't let him near her again. Nigerians come into season during the winter, though, so I'm going to give them another chance next time she's in standing heat, which should be this coming week.

January 20, 2012 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I wouldn't totally doubt Atlas. I used a ram lamb last yaer who didn't seem to be getting the job done, but he did!

And have you heard of Biotracking? You can take blood samples (easy to do) and send them in, and get preg tests for cheap. I think it's something like $6.50 per test. I think it's worth it, especially since you don't want fat ewes if they're not bred. It would be cheap to test them and great to know for sure if they are bred for sure. has all the info. All you need per ewe is a red topped blood tube, a needle, and a syringe. Perhaps your vet neighbor friend could show you how to draw blood if you've never done it?

It costs more than waiting, but it'll save you from feeding 10 (or so?) ewes extra feed if they're not bred!

January 20, 2012 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

You may be surprised. Animals can be sneaky!

January 20, 2012 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger whitneyparrillo said...

Last year we put our young ram in with 4 ewes and never saw any kind of action (if you know what I mean). It was our first year lambing and had no idea if any of the ewes were actually pregnant or not except for one that we bought already bred. After the already bred ewe delivered, all four of the other ewes had lambs! So, you never know.

January 20, 2012 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger E said...

Very young rams can impregnate ewes. I have a sheep acquaintance who put a 5 month old ram (with a healing broken leg) in with his sisters, thinking no breeding, but she still had lambs in the spring!

January 20, 2012 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

Katiegirl,that's good advice. If Jenna misses getting her ewes in lamb, and they get fat, it is very difficult to get them in lamb, especially maiden ewes. We've all been there... I've got Dorset sheep which get fat on fresh air. That test sounds cheap in comparison to losing sound pedigree breeding stock.

I'm going to ask my vets about the test; scanning a small flock can get costly, even when piggybacking it on the neighbor's commercial unit.

January 20, 2012 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

Jennifer, I was thinking about scanning and wondering how expensive it was - and I think you have answered my question - this test sounds like it would definitely be cheaper!

Jenna - another gorgeous picture from Tim!

January 20, 2012 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

hmm. If anyone who signs up requests gluten free food, we'll have it. Chili is gluten free, isnt it? So are scrambled eggs with cheese and apple cider!

January 20, 2012 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

Maria - Scanning isn't wholly accurate, esp in prolific breeds. Sometimes the operator misreads the scan, particularly when predicting twins/triplets.

I expect the blood test will give you definitive 'pregnant/ not pregnant' results for the whole flock, to decide if your sire is working well and come up with a Plan B quickly if he isn't.

This year I made an unrelated ram lamb into a wether - he was a foster lamb and one of triplets so profligate! - and he's blossomed into the most gorgeous true-to-type animal I've ever had. I cry into my morning coffee every time I look at him and think "He could have been a breeder..." ARRGGHHH!!

Feels good to get that off my chest ;)

January 20, 2012 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Oh Jennifer! I understand! Knox is amazing, and without being castrated would have been a handsome breeding animal, too. The rams raised by Common Sense, even more so (grained fed since 3 weeks old and HUGE heavy animals that put mine to shame).

Anyway, I am not going to test them, just wait and see. Not because it isn't a good idea or appreciated, but because it is a small flock and pregnant or not, I will be ready, and keep an eye on them

January 20, 2012 at 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our situation is similar to some of your readers: our ram is very young, we saw zero action, and yet here I am, middle of the night, ready to trudge out into the bitter snowy night to check on my very pregnant ewes!
I'd definitely consider moving Sal on, though ... !

January 21, 2012 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

That's a gorgeous picture!

I hope Atlas ends up surprising you. :)

January 21, 2012 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger CallieK said...

Have you forgotten this technique from Victorian Farm for checking if your ewes are pregnant?

Starts at 7:30

January 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger admin said...

I'm all for you trying out the Victorian Farm method!

January 21, 2012 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

Can't imagine wanting to go through 'lamb watch' as if we don't have the technology to pregnancy test. To each their own I guess.

January 22, 2012 at 12:03 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

Can't imagine wanting to go through 'lamb watch' as if we don't have the technology to pregnancy test. To each their own I guess.

January 22, 2012 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

wax tits it is!

January 22, 2012 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

The VF method works, but only when they're later in gestation.

January 22, 2012 at 2:15 PM  

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