Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bye, Bye, Jean Claude

Our sheepy gigolo has gone on to his final destination. Nancy came and took Jean Claude Van Ramme away yesterday. From our estimation, he did his deed. He had 10 ewes to impregnate - as we don't want momma Shirley getting pregnant again. We have no scientific proof - no ultrasounds or hormone screenings. But when miss Lucy and Pretty Princess Penelope - 2 of our smallest sheep, are suddenly looking quite round, and when they practically clamber over the stall walls for food - we know these girls are eating for 2 (or 3, or possibly 4)

Jean Claude Van Ramme, with some of the ladies

So depending on when he did his job, we could start seeing lambs at the end of March, or as late as June. Bring on the babies!

We'll miss Jean Claude. He was a gentle ram (I even broke the rules and petted him a few times). It seems he didn't want to go, he liked his ladies. But our intent was not to keep him. As hard as it is to say goodbye to any of our animals - it's now time to focus on our mommies.

Out of our 11 ewes, one is still tending to her rams. That leaves 10 ewes to have lambs this spring. Of them, Miss Laverne has had at least 2 sets of twins (I need to look at her records to be sure, it might be 3 sets of twins) So we know Laverne is a top notch sheep mommy.

That leaves our other 9 ewes - none of which have lambed before. It is a high likelihood that they will have twins - which brings the risk of abandonment. Sheep, unlike people, have a chemical they release during delivery that really numbs them, and make delivery easy and painless. I am jealous. It can also leave them a little unsure of that is going on. They may not realize they have given birth to one or either of their lambs, and sometimes can walk away from them. A secondary issue there is that the Pyrenees may take over and "adopt" the lamb, making it hard for the momma to come back, if she realizes what's going on. So we need to make sure we keep an eye on our 9 new mommies, and make sure that their babies get a chance to bond with mom, and start nursing. This may require isolation for a short time. When Lenny and Squiggy were born, this wasn't really an issue. Laverne had done it before, and she shared a stall with Shirley. It happened NYE night, in the barn, there was no where for her to go. Miss Shirley was a good auntie, and she often nudged the boys back to their mother.

This time around, we have 11 ewes, and 2 rams sharing a stall. We'll need to keep a watchful eye on them and make sure that babies and mommas have found each other and are nursing well. I'd rather they nurse from their momma than be abandoned and bottle fed. So it's going to be a busy spring. And if Miss Laverne has any ewe lambs - we're keeping them!