The King is dead. Bucky went off to freezer camp in late April. He’d gotten crankier in late middle age and was hassling everyone. Clovis followed two weeks later. I will get around to the pictures later this week hopefully.
Life finds a way. Zuko IV was castrated last fall, but somehow, against all odds, he regrew a testicle. It’s small, has a bit of scarring, and is totally functional. Oopsie. Now he’s a possible candidate for the surprise lambs we thought we might have narrowly averted.
Speaking of which, his dam, Brunhilde, dropped surprise twins Sunday evening while we were enjoying the nice weather. The likely possibles include her own son and her half-brother. It’s just a little Wagnerian. They are a large black ram who is a little slow on the uptake and a vigorous but tiny little brown ewe who is simply adorable. Pictures also to follow later this week just as hopefully.
Faux Cow fell victim to predation. Coyotes and black bears have been partying it up in our way way back. We had gotten her back into good health and she was getting hearty and lanky like her dam, Dottie was in youth. Oh well.
We have a lot of yard work to do, the grass is going hog wild. And we discovered the barn is too damp to store feed or pellets in sacks, so we’ll have to switch over to the garage for those.
Icelandic rams are delicious at 4 years of age. Tough, but flavorful without greasiness or bitterness. Slow cooking them gives a really delightful repast. Honestly comparable to standard sheep breeds’ 18 month hoggetts. We had butchering help from a friendly local down the road and we sent him off with some mutton, which was turned into burger and was excellent, delicious, great in omelettes. This made us relax about future slaughters of the older animals as they age.
The kids are really taking to chores and starting to develop the general habit of tidying up before bedtime and after dinner.
This black badgerface ram lamb being petted by a mysterious stranger is Zuko IV, out of Brunhilde. She had him Sunday afternoon right before my eyes. She is going to be our first ewe cull for conformation defects, her teats are located in very poor positions for nursing lambs, equivalent to under the arms. Her little guy is cheerful and of hearty spirits, but totally unable to figure out suckling. He has the strength, but not the instinct. She was one of the unexpected lambings.
So was Ripley. Hers was sadder. She miscarried 8/4/16. (GRAPHIC FETUS PICTURE BELOW)
So we are at 15 lambs delivered of 9 ewes and 13 live lambs, of which one is currently a bottle lamb. 9 live males, 4 live females and sex indeterminate of the miscarriage. Still waiting on Toph and Katara to give us a sign they got pregnant. Nothing yet.
We got enough fencing in place to keep the yearling rams from roaming. And roam and roam they did, apparently in the wild it is normal for young unbred rams to find a little pasture away from the herd Rocky-style and train (via eating lots, the sheep version of lifting big and posting gains) to take down the Big Ram. So that is what Clovis and Zuko II were doing when they kept busting out of the fencing. But now they’re stuck in our roughly 4 acre pasture, until we can send them to freezer camp.
We met several neighbors, who were pretty cool about things and have really nice pastures, at that.
We are done with breeding for the next few years and will just focus on fiber. We will probably just eat and/or sell all the rams.
On Saturday we had to slaughter Sokka. He’d recovered well from his flystrike, but it made his horn grow back wrong and during the last week or so before his slaughter, he had a ton of new growth…right into his jaw. We caught it before it could kill him, but he was starting to experience discomfort. He hung around 90, not unusual for Icelandics and ok for a ram who’d been through what he had. His carcass was in great shape and he was in fighting trim.
The ducklings are outside in the old run, we lined it against weasels, we’ll see how that goes. They are very happy and enjoying a diet of greens and bugs to add to their feed. Looks like only one drake, so we may get a broody girl and some natural ducklings in a year or so.
We have to slaughter all the males Shaft produced. They favor fleece more than we’d like and aren’t making weight like their sisters. At least we’ll finally have that freezer of lamb/hoggett.
Now that we have two kids old enough to do the feeding and watering when they hit laying age, we’ve decided to do ducks again. We are doing ducklings again for the pure cuteness factor and also because it turns out to be nearly impossible to get 20-30 dollar a bird laying ducks. Cheaper isn’t cheaper if you can’t get it readily.
We didn’t get any cool colors, just went down to the feed store on Friday for a straight run of Khaki Campbells and Indian Runners, three of each. Straight run means no sexing was done, so we’ll see how many drake feathers we get. Last time we had 0 drakes on straight run, perhaps it will happen again.
In sheep news, Shaft is trying to get jiggy with all his daughters and may have succeeded with Ripley. But she weighs enough to handle a birth, so if it happens, well, that’s sheep for you. The other three lambs don’t weigh enough to conceive, and have speedy little legs.