Since I know that quite a number of you are checking in on Sheepcam, I thought you might like to know a bit more about the ewes we have in the lambing barn this year.
We have nine ewes in the barn right now, three Ryelands and six Shetlands. Some of them are intentionally in lamb, we put them in with Stephenson, our fawn gulmoget Shetland ram in November. The other ewes are expecting because they had unscheduled (and unplanned) visits from some of the ram lambs in the autumn (Shetland lambs are really hard to keep fenced in during the breeding season!). Because of these escapes, we had the whole ewe flock pregancy scanned by Cedar Farm Vets, so that we could identify which ewes were in lamb. We were lucky to get away with just four unplanned sheepy pregancies, as the rams got in with a flock of 25! Another benefit of scanning is that we have a pretty good idea of how many lambs to expect from each ewe, so you’ll see that in their details below.
Esme’s a fawn katmoget. In lamb to Stephenson (Shetland). Due date: 6th April (twins). She’s very sweet natured daughter of Truley (see below). Esme’s the first of our ewes expected to lamb.
Elsbeth is a ‘Shetland black’, i.e a dark brown. She’s in lamb to one of the Shetland ram lambs – identity unknown. Carrying twins, due April 13th. In the barn, you can identify Elsbeth from the other dark ewes as she’s the roundest!
Seen here with last year’s lambs. Aniseed is a ‘true black’, i.e. her fleece is a proper black, not brown, the light brown on her outer fleece is from sun bleaching. She, like Elsbeth is in lamb to one of the Shetland ram lambs, identity unknown. She’s carrying either a single or twins (the scan was inconclusive). Aniseed is very shy, but she’s a great mother to her lambs. She has a gorgeous fine fleece too. Aniseed is also due on the 13th April.
Black gulmoget. In lamb to Stephenson (Shetland fawn gulmoget). Due mid April (we didn’t get an exact tupping date). She’s carrying twins. Isobel is one of my all-time favorite ewes, she has a very sweet nature and is a great mum. Her first ever lamb, Callanish, born last year, has inherited her lovely temperament, so I can’t wait to meet the lambs she has for us this year.
Truley is a grey katmoget. She’s in lamb either to Eddie, our second adult Shetland ram, or one of the coloured Ryeland rams. Truely’s a grand old dame of 10 years old. She had a really tough time lambing triplets last year, and was supposed to be taking a break from lambing this year. She, however, had other ideas, and jumped over a 6ft wide stream to spend a night with the ram flock. Her scan shows she’s carrying twins. If they’re Shetlands, then we know they’re by Eddie as he was the only Shetland in that group of rams. If Ryelands, then they could have any one of five different dads! Truley’s due date is 17th April.
Portree’s the baby of the group, she’s only a lamb herself, born early May last year. She’s the black sheep on the right of the pic, Alex the brown one is her mum. In truth, I’m quite concerned about Portree as she’s a year younger than the ewes I normally put in lamb. Just before Christmas, she took herself over to visit our Ryeland ram Murphy. I was really hoping that she hadn’t taken, but her scan showed she’s carrying twins. Ryelands are quite a lot larger than Shetlands, so I really hope that little Portree will be ok with delivering her crossbred lambs. Portree is the last ewe due to lamb, expected in mid May – so quite a while after all the others.
The three Ryelands that we have in lamb this year were all put to the Shetland tup, Stevie. In previous years we’ve found that Ryeland ewes sometimes struggle to deliver their lambs unassisted the first time around. So I reasoned that as the Ryelands are all first time lambers, then using a Shetland ram who’s much smaller than a Ryeland would produce smaller lambs that are easier to deliver. We shall see soon enough whether I was right about that.
Smallest is somewhat misnamed now. When she was born, she was the smallest Ryeland lamb I’d ever seen, she really was pint-sized, with a cheeky character to match. These days however she’s very much bigger, and plump, almost too plump. The name ‘Small’ doesn’t really suit her any more, but it’s stuck. Her scan shows she’s expecting twins, which will be Shetland crosses. She’s due mid April.
Summer is one of two sweet-natured white Ryeland ewes that I added to my flock last year. We put both Summer and her half sister, Skye with the ram last autumn, but unfortunately Skye didn’t conceive lambs (we’ll try again with her next year). Summer’s expecting a single lamb, due in mid April.
And finally there’s Piglet
Piglet by name, and piglet by nature. She wasn’t supposed to be in with the breeding flock, but she got into the group while I was sorting the sheep for tupping – charging after a bucket of feed, and I decided to keep her with them. She didn’t get a raddle mark from the ram, so I thought she wasn’t in lamb, but her scan shows she’s expecting twins, probably in mid April.
So now you know them all. Look out for these characters on Sheepcam. Esme gave us the run-around last night as it looked as though she’d started lambing, but it was a false alarm. So we’re still anxiously waiting for the first lambs to appear.