Five Green Acres Mary Jo + Andrew Borchardt Poynette, WI
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Sweet Billy just wanted to get married.

Sweet Billy just wanted to get married.
January 15, 2013 Mary Jo


We’ve once again added a ram to the flock.  Sweet Billy is his name, in honor of a character from our favorite episode of Gunsmoke.  Surely you know the one – Sweet Billy Calfcart just wants to be wed to his sweetheart, but Pa says Calfcarts always marry in turn, leaving Orkey (big brother) the task of lookin’ a purpose and choosin’ a wife so’s Billy can get married already.  Orkey looks-a-purpose and chooses Miss Kitty, with unfortunate results, on account of her being so ‘shy.’  Great, great episode, if a bit heavy in cultural stereotypes.

Sweet Billy, then, has come home to marry all four of our ewes.  He’s a purebred Cormo, the merest whisper of which sends fiber folks (especially spinners) into an uncontrolled frenzy.  Of excitement.  Oh, the Cormo wool! I swoon right along with them.  I reckon he’s got a lot to offer this small fiber flock, and his progeny will be eagerly anticipated.


There really is only one reason to get/keep a ram:  to breed.  They’re not pets, and while they can grow wool, nice wool even, they’re dangerous to have around.  His working season lasts only as long as the time it takes to impregnate his ewes, after which time he lounges around eating food off The (wo)Man until the next breeding season comes around.  It’s a good life for a guy.

This guy ambled off the trailer and into the winter pasture to greet his new wives, and set about consummating the marriage within 10 minutes of arrival.  Isadora and I witnessed the whole thing, from the muted throaty rumblings, to the dance, to the repeated vigorous thrusting.  Yeah, you heard me.  Within 10 minutes of arriving, Sweet Billy paid off 25% of his debt.  Hot damn, that was gratifying.  Wow.  It meant that newborn lambs will be knocking on our door around the beginning of June.  It meant an exciting genetic development in the evolution of my fiber.  It meant that Isadora needed an explanation of what she just witnessed.  Simple as that, the secrets of life were revealed to her, in deliberately vague detail. It was a homeschool lesson at 5pm on a Sunday night.  Good stuff.

With that, I welcomed my new Apprentice Sheep Midwife. In her short tenure so far, she’s reported the servicing of two more of our ewes, as evidenced by the paint markings on their rumps. (paint transferred from Sweet Billy’s brisket, wink-wink)  The remaining ewe was taken care of a few days later, as witnessed from the kitchen with a cup of coffee in my hand.  In less than a week, Sweet Billy’s taken care of each of his wives.  I can’t even begin to describe how gratifying that is.



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