So we had a happy summer with the 7 sheep, and sure enough, when the number of daylight hours started noticeably decreasing by late September, Farley started spending a lot more time sniffing around the ewes. One morning I witnessed the mating dance between him and Lana. I have to admit that it was simultaneously fascinating and repulsive. Who knew, when I said "I Do," that I'd become a barnyard-peeping Deb? The two consenting adult sheep kept at it for a while, and I was pretty sure there had been a successful coupling. A day later, I saw Farley and Una seal the deal, and two weeks later, Agnes was bred by Farley as well.
|I've always thought of this photo's caption as "Agnes Ha Ha," |
her reaction when I told her what was about to happen to her!
Even prior to all of the barnyard "activity," there was a concern we had with Farley; more specifically, a physical condition he was sporting. Farley's scrotum was huge (and that's an understatement), and hanging very low, practically dragging on the ground. He waddled when he walked, and there were several scrapes on the bottom of the scrotum from hitting rocks. When breeding was over, I had a vet come out to take a look.
|Here's Farley the day before he died. He was the center |
of attention for a troop of Girl Scout Brownies that
visited us as part of a project they were working on.
A new ram came to us a month later, through a woman I'd met a year earlier in one of the online sheep discussion groups. She was downsizing her flock of babydolls to focus on her alpacas and also on her soon-to-arrive baby daughter. John and I drove 150 miles down to Gilroy, CA, where we met Kimberly B. and purchased Gus, a nearly 5 year old ram. We saw pictures of several of Gus' offspring, and they were beautiful animals. We brought Gus home, kept him separated from the rest of our sheep and the dog for 4-5 days, and then let him go free with everyone else out in the vineyard.
|Gus, December 2007|
Gus was very friendly, and soon became the most popular sheep with us and our visitors, in large part because he loved to be petted and fed handfuls of grass or spare leaves of our garden crops. He never made a sound, but he did burp a lot. He never ever butted me, but he did frequently come over to rub his head on my knees.
|In the barn with my buddies, Gus and Francesco|
So at the end of the first full year with sheep, we were back to a population of 7: the 4 ewes, 2 wethers, and Gus the ram. Winter was now upon us, and the new year would be bringing plenty of "storms" and accompanying stories.
To be continued, for better and for worse...