I often get emails or blog comments containing questions about flock members. If the question can be easily answered in a sentence or two, I reply to the person asking. But when a question requires a bit more depth and is one that I think might interest other blog readers, I’ll use it as a basis for a post—like this one, which of our current rams is the “lead ram” of the group.
This relatively simple question is anything but simple. Our current ram flock is in flux at the moment — as is common most summers — with some yearling rams leaving because they failed to meet our expectations, and adult rams leaving to breed at other farms. Besides that, I usually make arrangements to bring in rams — either young or adult — from other farms to see whether they might fit into our breeding goals. The male flock is changing rapidly right now, and I thought that some of the changes taking place and the reasons for those changes might be interesting to you.
Our current ram flock is composed of adult Romney ram Martin (born 2013), adult Romeldale rams Noa and Nahe (born 2014), and nearly adult Romney rams Osiris, O’Connor, and ObiWan (born 2015). The remaining boys are now yearlings (born in spring of 2016, and likely not fully mature for a couple more years): Romeldales Parker, Pine, Pallas, and Pecos Bill, and Romneys Preacher and Peter. Although Martin was our lead ram over the past few years, when the group came back together after breeding last fall, the two-day battle for leadership ended with Noa taking charge. The interesting thing about this is that Noa, weighing in at 190 pounds, is in no way the largest ram of the group. Both Martin (205 pounds) and Nahe (220) are bigger. Yet Noa was obviously an impressive adversary, and when the dust settled, he had taken over leadership of the ram flock, with Nahe acting as second-in-command. This is honestly the first time in our many years of shepherding that I have been able to make out a clear second-in-command among the rams. And in the case of Nahe, he is a very close second, often seen immediately next to Noa and helping to keep the rules of the flock in place.
This situation may be short-lived, however, as Nahe and O’Connor have already been sold to other states, and both Martin and Noa are currently for sale. I have used each of these boys in our flock and have enough of their daughters that continuing to use these rams in breeding groups is counterproductive. Several of last year’s ram lambs will also be leaving the flock. Pallas, Pecos Bill, Preacher and Peter (more about Peter on Friday) will soon be sold at auction because they have fallen short of our expectations. That will leave us with ObiWan, Osiris, Parker, and Pine from this original ram group.
We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of several other rams this year. Korbin, a colored Romney ram who we picked up in Montana last year and was used for breeding in Wisconsin last fall, will be coming back to us shortly. We have also arranged to buy an as yet unnamed two-year-old dark moorit Romeldale ram from Marushka Farms. He’ll be coming in the next week or so, and we’re eager to bring a new moorit bloodline into our Romeldales. These two will meet before they get to know the rest of our ram flock, since they will likely share quarantine space in the Storage Barn over the next few weeks to assure they have no unwanted health issues. As breeding season approaches in September, we will have a total of three adult Romney rams (Korbin, ObiWan, and Osiris) and three nearly adult Romeldale rams (the unnamed new ram, Parker, and Pine). In addition, we’ll be choosing six to eight ram lambs from our own flock to overwinter here for possible breeding in the fall of 2018.
Keeping this many rams is, quite honestly, a bit crazy. But I’ve found over these many years that too many rams is much preferred to not having enough when breeding time comes. With the current list of 12 to 14 rams, we should have the right rams for our breeding groups, even if the unforeseen should occur. And what a nice group of boys they are!