Highway 2 is a long and lonely road

We recently went on a horrifyingly long road trip to check out some rams to breed with our girls.  We took Highway 2 because the map said it was fewer miles than shooting down to I-90.  It is shorter, but there are a lot of stops early on due to various small towns scattered on the outskirts of ‘day trip for Seattlites’ like Leavenworth and the land of aplets and cotlets.

Anyway Highway 2 also takes you through Wenatchee, which has fine people, but it is itself surrounded by ugly brutalist basalt hills.  And then it’s just mile after mile after mile of wheat fields and Big Sky isolatedness, farms where you need a vehicle just to “walk” your land until Spokane.

Interestingly, it is a historical accident that Eastern Washington has so much wheat going on.  The  early settlers tried cows because the land was so flat and suited for grazing cattle, but the cows died during a particularly bitter winter, so there went that idea.

After a miserably rainy drive with angry little kids, we got to our destination and my husband got a crash course in how to physically assess sheep for conformation while looking over the stock in the howling wind and rain.  We settled on two excellent ram lambs who will be of an age to breed around the time we get them down here in a few weeks.  This is wonderful because it’s the same time the ewes will be entering their heat.  The one I thought was pregnant just has odd conformation, a little too barrelly, but nothing really bad.  Helps with delivery and gestation anyhow.

Finding rams is difficult, because once you have a good one, you can generate your own and a good ram is worth many ewes, so people are not rushing to sell them all at once.  Many breeders end up doing the old schlep across county and state lines to find a high quality ram to start their flocks with, so we’re just following normal procedure.

The breeder was a font of useful information and has been in the Icelandic game for almost 20 years, which is amazing, since the breed has only been in North America for a little longer than that.

The long and short is that we expect some lambs next year from all four ewes.  I hope that happens.



Fencing update

We’re going with a pretty electric solution and doing the entire boundary of our property this year, but the specifics haven’t been settled yet, as the boundary remaining to be fenced is not flat, which makes cheap+easy not possible.  In hindsight, this is likely one reason it was always cows up here for the early settlers rather than sheep, which was still a utile option 120-150 years ago.  The sheep don’t care, but fencing them before electric fencing was likely a challenge in this part of Cascadia, as opposed to the distinct flatness down in the Willamette Valley (which is full of sheep).  Funny to think about such things and the ongoing march of technology.