Meet L815 -
He's on loan to me and my flock for the next six weeks. He's a young ram, as yet unproven. To make sure he's at least trying to cover the ewes, I decided to fit him with a raddle harness.
Working out which buckle goes in which hole
Mr. Baker helped me fit it. It went on a lot tighter than I would have thought. Mr. Baker reminded me that if the ram's doing his job with the requisite amount of enthusiasm, the weight will drop off him. So we tightened all the buckles, and put a green chalk in the raddle.
Checking the position of the chalk, to ensure it's not interfering with his breathing or rubbing on the breastbone
I also bought another ewe as I can't make the annual sale next Tuesday (pheasant duties). Meet N1125-
Polled Dorset ewes are not pretty. They look even more coarse and ignoble with their wool off. More Anne of Cleves than Kate Middleton. Perhaps the ram will see it differently.
I admit I was slightly apprehensive about handling a ram. This animal has an armor-plated skull and the testosterone levels of a sailor on shore leave. I just need to keep my wits about me while he's part of the flock.
There was no wedding ceremony but the ewes were about to have their honeymoon night. I didn't need the paparazzi to tell me how it went - that's what the raddle harness is for.
There was one ewe with a green bottom this morning: Eudora. Apparently, as far as sheep go, Eudora is easy. I'm sure the others will succumb to Prince L815's charms soon enough.
I weaned the lambs later than usual, and one of the two mothers still had a lot of milk. Besides the worry that she might come into season late, I was concerned that the pressure on her udder was uncomfortable for her, and could lead to mastitis. I caught her up at feeding time, and milked a small amount from her.
I'd never milked a sheep before. It wasn't difficult, except that I had to keep a death grip on her hind leg with my free hand, to prevent her running back to the rest of the flock. I saved the milk in a clean jug to try it for myself. I drink raw milk regularly, and I've tried store bought sheep's milk. How bad could it be?
I tried it in a cup of tea -
It tasted sheepy, but not unpleasant. It doesn't have the same body as cow's milk, and it was slightly sweeter. I think I'll leave the sheep's milk to the lambs. And, if all goes well, the next crop of heirs should be born this September to my seven ewes.
That gives me plenty of time to get a hat for the occasion.