Sunday, 1 May 2011

Conjugal Rites

I didn't get an invite to the royal wedding. Perhaps it got lost in the mail. Maybe a corgi ate it. It was probably a blessing as all the hat shops have been sold out for months, and I have sheep jobs to get on with. The grass is good, the lambs have been weaned and the ewes have been sheared. It was time to get the ram.

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.

I unloaded him into the field with "his" ewes. The ladies made straight for him and the new ewe, and everyone had a sniff of everyone else. Both groups commingled easily.

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.


Tina said...

Well...THAT was combined the words 'Royals', ewes, ram, honeymoon and milk all in one post without being coarse!
You ARE clever! LOL!
Our friends wife was knocked over last year by one of their rams...the bruises were horrific.
I've been reading your past few posts, very glad to make your acquaintance :)

(Please don't buy a hat like Princess Beatrices'. Please don't)

Sara said...

Eudora! Walk of shame. Thank god they don't use raddle harnesses in humans, high school would've been tough for me. Jen, you look the same as when I last saw you, especially with a mug of tea in your hands. :) Don't you age? Must be all the clean, country living.

Poppy Cottage said...

So you now have a spare room full of your own wool waiting to be washed and spun?

And, like most men I don't really think the ram will spend a lot of time checking out the ewes for looks!! (what was that old saying you don't admire the mantle piece when stoking the fire!!)

Fancy felting one evening?

Pomona said...

A sheepy taste - hmm! Our loft insulation smells sheepy. You made me think of the reddleman in The Return of the Native - I always liked him because he darned his own socks.

Pomona x

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

What an ingenious invention, the raddle harness. But couldn't you have used, say, a nice muted yellow? That bright green is a little ignominious. Too much like the scarlet 'A.'

If you ever end up with a surfeit of sheep's milk, I vote for cheese.

Harvest Kitchen Sisters said...

We drink raw cows milk around here. I just noticed how sweet the milk is right now, maybe it has to do with the cows finally eating fresh green grass. You could make feta cheese with sheep milk, I think it is relatively easy(and delish). I love the green marker- who ever came up with that is a genious. I just candled my turkey eggs and it looks like good ol' Tom is getting the job done....I will send our fertility energy your way. Good luck! Eudora, you randy girl! She was the sick one right? Looks like she is doing well!

Paula said...

I guess any wool coming off Eudora can't be called 'virgin wool', huh?

Cool post. Good luck with getting all the girls 'with lamb'.

Jennifer Montero said...

Tina - The only hats I own are woolen and knitted, I promise no pretzel-shaped fascinators for me.

Sara - And she has to continue the walk of shame til the green wears off her ass. At least we could go home and change our clothes ;-) I think I look the same because my haircut hasn't changed since 1991.

PC - The fleece would be great for felting. Sounds good.

Pomona - Is your loft insulated with the felted wool product? Is it effective? And all the best people darn their own socks.

Tamar - Yellow would have been kinder. I like the idea of the scarlet letter. Funny you should mention cheese, I did just purchase a soft cheese making kit...

HKS I'm glad your turkey is doing his job. Are the saddles helping? Yes, Eudora was the sick one. She's obviously feeling better now.

Paula - Trust you to come up with a witty observation.

M.E. Breen said...

Terrific post. I love your blog, especially any and all pictures of Pip.

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

I absolutely have no witty comment to leave you, although I would dearly love to. But you, and your commenters have totally put any thought I might add to shame. My sense of humor is not so fine-tuned as others, publicly, so let me just say, again, that reading you blog posts are just the highlight of my day. I LOVE your sense of humor... and this is one of your best posts ever! Poor, poor Eudora...She will never live this down.

me said...

Love your pink Crocs! Be careful around the new guy.

Le Loup said...

No, they did not send us an invitation either, but they have promised to come visit. I think they assumed I would turn up in my 18th century clothing & be an embarrasment! I would have too!
We used to drink goats milk all the time in the Territory, fine once you get used to it.
Good post.
Regards, Le Loup

Mary Lee said...

Please update soon. I am "dyeing" to know the color of your walking wool flock!