Last year, I had a blast running LambWatch2012. It was a ton of fun, tracking the days and who had guessed what. I had fond hopes of making it an annual event.
Last fall, Madman and I did a little quick math and realized that Sauron and Smoky, pastured with Onyx, Goldie, and the girls, were fast approaching the age that Orion was when we bought him the year before. They were already starting to have head-butting contests and generally starting to behave like adolescent boys trying to impress the girls by doing any dumbass thing that occurred to them. Since we wanted to breed Onyx and Goldie to Orion again, and we didn't want to breed Tiny and Abigail, something needed to be done.
Clearly, we needed A Plan.
Longtime readers of the blog are now giggling. (I can hear you, you know.) Some are even guffawing. You've seen what happens when Madman and I form A Plan.
So, here was The Plan.
1. Put Sauron and Smoky into a separate pen so they don't get up to any shenanigans once they figure out what shenanigans are.
2. Count backward from the general time we want lambs in the spring to figure out when to move Goldie and Onyx up to the pen where the Big Boys live. Orion and Merlin have been leading the bachelor life for months up in the upper pen while the lambs grew up. Orion will be glad to see women in his life again; Merlin's interest will be more in the company. (And possibly the entertainment)
3. Leave Abigail and Tiny in the original pen, so they won't get bred. We don't want to breed them until they're over a year old, so they have a chance to fully mature before the stress that pregnancy would put on them.
We'd end up with three pens, with from 2 to 4 sheep in each.
Sounds simple, right?
So, we moved the little boys into their own pen, next to the girls' pen. That lasted for a couple of days, then we got up one morning and there were six sheep in the original pen.
The boys had rejoined the girls. And started acting all possessive and rambunctious and stuff.
We checked the fencing (I'm not even going to link. Click on either 'sheep' or 'chickens' in the label cloud and start reading anywhere. We've had issues with fencing. *sigh*), strengthened the areas that they might have escaped through, and moved them back.
The next morning there were six sheep in the pen again.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
It reached the point that we'd move the little
So, we did what any sensible couple with years of animal husbandry experience would have done.
We gave up. Short of cutting off their legs, there wasn't much we could do to discourage them, and by that time, the damage had probably been done.
So, there was no way of figuring a starting date for LambWatch2013 - we'd been stuffing those boys back into their bachelor pad for weeks before we bowed to the inevitable. With no Ready-Set-Go date to do math with, there was no way to set up a contest.
So, we're just winging it this year. Genetically, things could be awful, or almost awful. Or maybe okay. For Onxy and Goldie, the outlook is better. If they weren't bred by their own sons, then their lambs have parents that aren't related to each other and would be fine. If they were bred by their own sons, well, maybe not so good. And the little girls are the real problem - their choices are their brother and their half-brother. There's an old saying among animal breeders - "If it works, it's called line-breeding, and if it doesn't work, it's called in-breeding..."
The only thing we know for sure is that lambs are due any time now.
After all, Madman planted peas last Sunday...