I really need to keep up with this blog better. It's been another month plus since my last entry. So here's the news from Birchtree Farm...
The Monday of Thanksgiving week was the last day before the snow came. The rams were still over on the borrowed pasture and we needed to get them home so they could perform their required duties for the month of December. However, that required finishing the breeding pens and coming up with some way to keep the rams from playing head-bashing games with each other.
That Monday I went out and pounded all the t-posts needed to divide the paddock in half north-south and then take the one half and divide it in half east-west, creating two smaller areas approximately 30-32 feet on a side. Monday night I watched the news and they were calling for a "coating to 2 inches" of snow for our area. Well, we woke up the next morning to 6 inches and more still coming. By the time it was done snowing there was about 10 inches of snow... and then it started raining. We had to shovel the driveway as neither the snowblower nor the tractor wanted anything to do with the snow. The snow was already wet, and once it started raining, it just got wetter, and heavier. Ken ended up not going to work at all that day because by the time we got everything shoveled, including Ken going up and shoveling off the roof of the shed (which has a very shallow slope), it was 2pm and we were both about dead. But then there were still chores to do, including taking hay and water over to the rams. The hoophouses for the sheep had partially collapsed under the weight of the wet snow so those had to be shoveled off and then reinforced.
Wednesday Ken was back to work, and I went out and wrestled some fencing into place on one section of the new pens, and went over and delivered hay to the rams again. Thursday (Thanksgiving) we both were out doing the rest of the fencing, all except for the dividing line between the pens. We were going to use cattle panels for those, as they are taller than the regular fencing (to prevent amorous sheep from jumping over), and can be easily put up and taken down. We were so tired that we did not have our Thanksgiving dinner that day. I managed some toasted cheese sandwiches. Friday we drove to the farm store and picked up the cattle panels. I made Thanksgiving dinner that day.
Saturday was the big day. We got the panels in place, and covered them with tarps to provide a visual barrier between the two pens. Then we took the trailer over to pick up the rams. With a couple ropes and a bucket of grain for a bribe, we backed the trailer into the lane leading to the pasture, then walked down to the gate. They were waiting for us, probably expecting more hay. While they were focused on the grain bucket, we took the ropes which had a loop on one end like a lasso, and looped each ram around the base of their horns. Then picking up the grain bucket, we started back toward the trailer with the rams on their "leashes". Umbri did a lot of head tossing, and jumping around, but he kept following Falkur, whose only concern was that he not let the grain bucket get too far ahead of him. Up into the trailer they went, and we headed for home.
Once we got there, we led Umbri out of the trailer and down the lane. It took a bit of convincing until he realized there were ewes waiting. We finally got him into his pen, and turned around to see Falkur waiting for us at the gate. He'd jumped over the dividing panel in the trailer and come up the lane all by himself. So into his pen he went, and then the entertainment began.
Rams chasing ewes around can be quite hilarious. The rams chase each ewe in turn trying to see if she's receptive. They weren't. Well, one of Falkur's was, sort of, but she made him work for it. After a few minutes of running around in circles, the rams' tongues were literally hanging out, and they would call the ewes while their tongues flapped up and down. This is a family-friendly blog, so I will end the description there. They did finally calm down by nightfall, much to the ewes' relief I think.