Sam the Sham and The Pharaoh have just returned from a month-long Bachelor’s vacation. It was nothing exciting; they stayed in the winter sheep area behind our chicken coop, about 100 or so yards from the pasture where all the girls were. They played cards, smoked cigars, listened to blaring heavy-metal music at all hours of the night, and then got sloppy-drunk. It was to be a sort of long-distance courtship between Sam and the ewe lambs. I had crossed my fingers in the hope that I removed him from the pen before they matured enough to start cycling; I meant to keep him separated until they were old enough and a 5 month gestation would bring lambs in spring, rather than the dead of winter. The Pharaoh was there for mutual support.
Yesterday the Bachelors returned to the flock. Upon entering, I slathered Sam’s brisket with a messy handful of this green paint goo. The idea is to see who gets “courted” and when, so that we have some reasonable idea of when to watch for lambs. It beats my previous system of “Hmm. Sam’s pretty aggressive. Bet he’s breeding someone. Look sharp in 5 or so months!” The sheep who have been courted will bear a bright green mark near their tails. I almost didn’t slap the goo on – a mixture of laziness and intimidation made foregoing the task till reinforcements arrived (Captain Daddio) a tempting idea. There likely wouldn’t be any action on the first day back anyways. His presence will likely inspire the girls to cycle soon and we might not have any real action for a couple of weeks.
Well. Shows what I know. Not much at all. Later in the afternoon, I almost fell over when I saw that Violet was marked quite obviously. Well! Also, he was smoking a cigarette. So cliche, Sam.
I should clarify that there are only 2 ewes we suspect are not already pregnant. Garnet may lamb at any time. (Please note that the use of the marking goo would have been a welcome predictor of her due date. We’ve been ‘on the ready’ for almost a month now.) Gloria and Sylvia look quite laden as well. We’re not sure about Lily, our new girl. I think she’s getting rounder, but ultimately, if she gets marked with the green goo, we’ll know that my camera was adding pounds, not pregnancy. This is the key here – the ram is very efficient. He breeds only when they’re cycling. Not if they’re pregnant. Not just for fun.
So, the faint marking of green on Lily’s back that I noticed this morning? Was it because the goo had dried out? Would it have been slap-in-the-face-obvious like Violet’s? Or did he nudge her while she was lying down? Oh, there is so much to figure out.