Not Yet!

Now that this year’s lambs are weaned (yes Will, you are weaned. Get over it already.) the girls have apparently started to think about next year’s lambs. They’re starting to show definite signs of increased hormone levels. When the temperature cools off in the evening it looks like a free-for-all melee, with everyone milling around fighting. Everyone except Mira, who just looks on with her eyes bugged out and tries to stay out of the way.

Surprisingly, Princess and Nova have been fighting a lot lately. Maybe since Nova’s raised a lamb of her own she thinks she’s ready to stage a coup. Princess is Not Impressed by this development.

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“Nova, I am warning you! Stop this ridiculous behavior at once!”
“Back off, Mom!”

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“Do not try my patience young lady!”
“I’m not a lamb anymore, you can’t tell me what to do!”

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“Now remember, I get first shot at the crunchies! And last shot! And… well… I get all the crunchies!”
“We’ll just see about that!”

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“I always said motherhood was overrated. My own ungrateful daughter is trying to usurp me!”
“Mommy, what’s going on? Everybody’s acting crazy!”

Poor Mira. She’s so confused. I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t hit puberty until her second fall. It happens sometimes with slow-growing Soay lambs. Whether she does or doesn’t, I’m not going to breed her this year. She needs extra time to grow herself.

While I’m cosseting my little late bloomer, I think maybe Princess wishes her first lamb wasn’t quite so precocious. Rather hypocritical of her really, since Nova’s practically her carbon copy, personality wise. They both came into the world completely convinced of their divine right to rule, but Princess still has the advantage in size and experience. That doesn’t mean Nova can’t make quite a pest of herself, of course.

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“Did you just butt me in the rear?!?”
“Umm… No?”

If they’re already acting this crazy, I have an exciting few months ahead of me. I’m not planning on starting the breeding season until November this year, to hopefully avoid having any more lambs in sub-zero temperatures. That was not fun.

With Duke once again the only breeding ram, I’m thinking only Princess and Lady are going to be bred this year. Mira and Nova are both his daughters, and Duchess… well, after two disastrous pregnancies, I’m not sure I’m going to breed her again at all, and definitely not to Duke, I have one daughter from them, that’s enough.

A lot of old farmers will tell you that ewes go sterile if you don’t breed them every year, but that’s just a myth. Obviously you get fewer lambs over a ewe’s lifetime if she’s not bred every year, but it doesn’t hurt conception rates for them to take a year off. I’m not aiming for maximum production, anyway. Two to four lambs from two ewes sounds a lot more manageable than the six or seven lambs I would probably get from all five girls!

Now I just have to hope they don’t kill each other before then…

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4 thoughts on “Not Yet!

  1. Oh my Goddess!!! I must say I am amazed at the behaviour, is it because they are in a smaller area then if it was a ‘bigger’ herd in a larger area? How long does this ‘season’ of madness last?
    Do they go in and out of it?

    • They do flock, so I’m not sure if a bigger area would make a difference. I think it’s mostly the cooler weather making them frisky and the shortening days making their hormones crazy. They do go in and out of season, but they’ll still be more wound up than usual until they stop cycling, either because they’re pregnant or because the days have started lengthening again.

  2. Oh goodness, is *that* what’s going on with my gals?! Mine have been fighting for about a week now, and I haven’t been able to figure out why. I never would’ve thought they’d start being hormonal this early in the year. They’re still nursing, for pete’s sake!

    I bred mine the last week of November last year and I think the timing with lambs was perfect. Now I just need to move up the alpacas–I don’t like July babies when all the biting flies are out in force and it’s sticky and gross out there.

    • Seasonal animals’ hormones are regulated by day length; my girls usually start feeling frisky as soon as the summer equinox passes and the days start getting shorter, but I’m not sure when their hormones become strong enough for them to actually start cycling.

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