Our flock renewal is not limited to ewes! In the previous two blogs, I described the changes in the ewe flocks, but there has been even more turnover in our rams! We normally keep about a dozen boys over the winter, a combination of older rams who we still hope to use for breeding and usually a larger number of ram lambs. Those lambs may have had breeding groups in the fall to see what they could do, or we might be overwintering them to see how they look as yearlings the next spring.
This year we will keep only one adult Romney, Goliath, who will likely retire here. He is becoming an elderly gentleman but is still active and very much interested in our ewes. He will have a breeding group again this fall in hopes of siring a colored son who inherits all of his best traits. We will see!
With Goliath, we will overwinter four Romney ram lambs. Outlaw and ObiWan, a pair of solid black boys of our own breeding, will share a breeding group this fall, wearing different colored crayons to determine which one bred the first ewes. If they both begin breeding ewes in the group, we will separate the ewes into two groups and each ram lamb will get his own sub-flock. On the other hand, if only one boy turns out to be mature enough to breed the ewes, he will get the group and the other lamb will be pulled out to spend time with some of his ram-lamb buddies in the paddock. How this group turns out will depend on how quickly each of these boys matures!
Also in the Romney group are two new ram lambs: O’Connor, a white color-carrying ram lamb from Tawanda Farms in CA (having just arrived home today after several days of transport!), and Osiris, another white color-carrying ram lamb from Celtic Braes Farm in WI (arriving several weeks ago). O’Connor will have a breeding group of his own this fall, but Osiris will take a year to grow into his role. We may find out that O’Connor also needs some time to grow — and if that happens, he will pass his breeding group to our white color-carrying adult ram, Martin, who is still for sale.
The Romeldale group is a bit bigger, including three adult rams and three ram lambs. In breeding groups this fall, we’ll have Muldoon (a two-year-old who carries the still unusual Swiss Markings pattern), Nahe (a darker moorit yearling who had a group last year), and Noa, a charcoal yearling who has returned home after spending a year on loan to Serenity Spring Wool in WI. The three ram lambs overwintering in our paddock are Opus, a lovely black-based son of Muldoon who might replace his sire next year; Oliver, a solid black son of Midnight and Nahe who might replace his sire next year; and Otoe, a triplet son of Muldoon and Ivy whose fleece impressed me enough to see how he turns out next year! All three of these boys will prove themselves further next summer when they are more mature — and in the interim, I have some lovely adult rams that I will use this fall.
In past years I always tried to reduce the number of rams that we would keep over the winter. I’ve come to realize that keeping too few rams is a worse situation than keeping too many. I can always sell some off, but if one of my breeding boys dies or becomes ill (as did Josiah last fall on the night before we put together our breeding groups!), it is nice to know that I have others just waiting for a chance to prove what they can do!
I still have two boys available for sale: Norris and Martin. If they don’t sell before winter, we’ll have to see what happens. After all, having too many rams is always better than not having enough!