Swimming in rams

Lisa graced us with twin rams right in the barn stall a few minutes before we were going to leave for church on Sunday.  One was very frail and weak looking, with original-Zuko‘s coloring. He is the only lamb with a name so far, Zuko 3. But he only needed a couple pumps of Nutridrench and he was off to the races by the time we came home from church.  His moorit brother was also on the smaller side, but both ram lambs are doing very well rambling after Lisa up in the maternity ward.  She was fretful and Badgerface was being kind of mean girl until she got on the move, but overall the ewes have been good to each other.

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Lisa and Zuko 3, she was trying to avoid the other ewes and rams and get some privacy.

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Zuko 3 and his brother. They are on the tiny side.

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We currently are waiting on Dottie and Grey and we have seven ram lambs and two ewe lambs out of five ewes. Azula turned out to have a little fawn colored ram upon much closer inspection.

Slaughter success and breeding victory

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Skinning Bart. He was very bony.

 

With the help of some relatives, one of the ram lambs, Bart, was finally slaughtered, skinned and broken down over the holiday weekend.  It didn’t take very long and we now have some Icelandic lamb in the freezer.  We should have Scottie and Dingus taken care of in the next week or so.

As for breeding, all the adult ewes are finally in with Shaft and hopefully everyone gets pregnant.  Due to the ewes’ cycling not being synchronized, they’ll be in there until January, or when they show conclusive signs of pregnancy, whichever comes first.  So we are going to have May lambs, which means April spring shearing.

Bart was a light yield, about 15lbs of finished cuts including the organs we kept.  That is a hanging weight somewhere past 20lbs, but not much past.  He weighed more before the weather got colder, but he was in fact weaker than Scottie and Dingus and lost some weight the last month.  Dingus has inherited excellent parasite resistance, as he was stunted but has a well formed, meaty frame.  He is smaller physically than Bart’s rangier, lankier frame, but will give more meat.  So that’s good.

My husband feels pretty good about his ability to slaughter sheep going forward.  Bart was stunned unconscious and then had his throat slit.  It all went very quickly.  The cold weather has helped a lot.

Now that Thanksgiving festivities are over (we celebrated with friends and family and it went pretty well and was delicious), I have to get back to the fiber prep.  Speaking of weight gain, we have a baby that went from 16 to 17lbs over the course of Thanksgiving week.  And still waiting to hit three months old.  I guess he’s taking lessons from the lambs.

No new lambs

The two ram lambs are growing about 1lb per day per lamb, based on the weighings we were able to manage.  They are increasing in vigor and size visibly.  They’re also darkening up, with a lot more brown than when they were newborn.  They are not likely to have much white, that is both recessive and not heavily selected for in the American Icelandic genetic pool.  As far as I’ve seen, shepherds of Icelandics in America cater to wool buyers who want a range of colors and not just white dye-friendly wool.  White wool isn’t rejected, it’s just not necessarily as sought after by people who want this fleece.  Also, many Icelandic-raising shepherds like working with wool themselves and also have a personal preference for the color variety of brown, black and spotted that is typical for the breed.

I think the other ewes must have been covered later than my recollections.  I looked back at my posts around that time and it looks like the first week of November might be when they were bred and not the very tail end of October.  The grey ewe was settled very quickly, which is surprising given that she remains our most skittish and feral ewe herself.  But I thought the gap between her and the others was just two or three or maybe four days.  If it was a week or so, then we could be waiting until the first few days of April for all the lambs to finish making their appearances.

We’re going to see if we can put together a permanent ram pen rather than a temporary one.  Even though Icelandics are not prone to out of season conception, their season goes through April, and they return to fertility during that time.  So it will be easiest going forward to keep the rams completely separate from the girls, especially since it will mean less work separating ewelambs from breeding ewes.  It’s too bad, it would be easier if they could stay in all summer with the ewes and the new lambs.  But our rams do better without the distraction of the ladies, surprisingly.  No dominance fighting, sharing food occasionally, and generally calmer.