Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fading Dreams

On Friday I found Jeepers and her daughter Alma dead in the barn. Jeepers was bleeding from the mouth and it looks like the breeding ram Ironwood killed them. They were both healthy less than two hours before, I have no other explanation.

He was getting more and more aggressive with the humans and the ewes so the plan was to remove him on Saturday - I was a day too late. I have never read about this type of behavior occurring yet there can be no other explanation.

The atmosphere around the ewes was oppressive with Ironwood in there, I'm not sure that any of the breeding's with the four remaining ewes took. There may be no lambs this Spring. In the girls current condition I am afraid to introduce the clean-up ram, they seemed depressed with the loss of their leader (Jeepers).

The four ewes remaining are mother daughter pairs. I only have two blood lines left, it makes me sad. Introducing new blood into the flock would be the easy solution except that the breed isn't readily available.

What is one lost breeding season? I was hoping to have 9 lambs this Spring to add to my existing 6 ewes, now I have four ewes and possibly no lambs, a lost season is a lifetime. I am pondering waiting to see if I get any lambs, or I could change over to Icelandic's or Jacob's, or maybe I'll just expand the goat herd. It is hard brightening up a fading dream, but I'm not going to give up.


  1. oh no!
    how sorry I'm for your loss and those poor dear girls...
    My advise would be to have the ram destroyed as hard as that is...his bloodlines should not continue with that behavior it is a major flaw.
    I have heard of rams being aggressive enough to make a ewe miscarry so he could breed her again...but this I've never heard of.

    I hope you don't give up on sheep..they are not all bad.
    We won't be expecting any lambs this spring either, we lost my ram before he was turned in with the girls..I wanted to wait for a later lambing date as I'm expecting our first baby this winter and wanted to be back on my feet I wish I hadn't waited.

    once again I'm so terribly sorry.

  2. Sorry for your loss! What about advertising ? Craigslist, eBay, local farm newsletters? Don't give up! Here is an opportunity to get a new bloodline, and to expand. This setback, although major, can be overcome, if you work at it. How about getting a ram plus two ewes, preferably bred?
    Good luck!

  3. Wow. Sorry to hear about your ladies, and hope you take care of Ironwood...whatever fate that may be.

  4. Oh, that's just heartbreaking...I hope at least the breeding took...

  5. I do know how you feel; when we lost our sheep to the dogs, it was really hard - and we lost a whole breeding line in one day.

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  7. I am so sorry to hear this. Those guys can be nasty. I know Boeris can get pushy with food but not really aggressive. Hope you at least get some lambs.

  8. That is so sad, so sorry for your loss. Losing a third of your ewes is a big set back, hopefully one or more of the others has been bred. Good Luck.

  9. Oh my goodness...this is awful. I am so sorry you are having to go through this. The loss of the dreams of lambs is so sad. But, my mother always told me that a time of closed doors is not just a time to find an open window, it's a time to regroup and to regain your strength so that you can bust through that door --- when the time is ready!!!!

    I'm rooting for you and hope you will keep us updated on how this re-routes your farming direction.

    Wanting all the BEST for you!!!! Lana

  10. Oh, that's terrible! I'm so sorry. I wouldn't give up on lambs but maybe a change by adding a different breed would be better. I'm sure you will make the right decision for you.

  11. This is heartbreaking, I'm so sorry. First of all I'm sorry about your loss. A lost season is a lifetime, I know... I've been there too. You can't give up, because no matter what there will always be troubles and road blocks - the path to our dreams is never easy. Of course sometimes we do need to accept that it might not be, or that we need to change things... the hard part is, knowing the difference between just a road block and the end of the road - it all depends how bad you want it and what your heart tells you. Clearly this ram is not meant to be part of your flock. As I've mentioned before, I never dealt with a ram like this but have dealt with a buck that turned on everyone, including the herd, so I can believe your ram would just be a bad one.

    Sorry you've had to go through this :(

  12. I am so sorry. Heartbreaking doesn't quite sum up the feelings. I have not heard of a ram killing ewes like this before and I hope I never hear of it again. I'm glad to hear you aren't giving up.

  13. New to your blog as I have an interest in the Cascade breed.I manage a small flock of Jacobs 30 mi. south of Wadena MN. I was sorry to read of your loss. Just wondering how long your ram was in with the girls. I don't know if I would write off this breeding season, there is a good chance they have been bred. Last year my ram was very aggressive with my lead ewe. She was the only one of the girls to protest during estrus and I also had two wethers that tried to intervene. When I pulled out the intruders they were able to breed and things settled down. I have learned that I needed more space during breeding because things get a little crazy out there. Before acquiring a ram my girls fought viciously amongst themselves when in estrus. My lead ewe was a bully.
    This year the aggressive ram is "bad dad sausage", a pelt and buttons and a gentle lilac ram is doing the honors.I am interested in learning more about this breed and look forward to seeing your spring lambs!

  14. Farmer - I have been doing some reading and found that behavior is hereditary as you stated. Any rams from his breeding will have to go. I'm sorry for your loss as well.

    Ian - There are only a few flocks of this breed outside of WA, I was supposed to help expand their availability. I will have to contact the other breeders to see if I can get some new blood.

    Carolyn - His fate is sealed.

    jj - I sure hope the breedings took, otherwise I'm going to be very short of sheep.

    Nancy - Sorry for your loss as well. It is really sad and such a waste, as I said a lost year feels like a lifetime.

    Teresa - He started out nice and just got worse and worse. Now that he is back with the other two rams he is at the bottom of the pecking order and docile - weird.

    Tombstone - Thanks for the wishes, I'll need the luck.

    Farmlife - Thanks, If I have to move to Icelandic sheep then I will take this as a sign.

    Kim - I haven't given up, just a bit discouraged. Things will pick up, no use moping. This breed is a prefect size and easy to handle.

    Luckybunny - I'm not giving up. The ram will be gone in the Spring. The hard part will be keeping a viable flock if the breedings didn't take. I will have to see where we stand when I see how many lambs (if any) I get. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Shannon - I had no idea a ram could/would do this, its just horrible. I have learned a lot the last two years so I'm not giving up, I just hope I don't have to change my plans.

    Diane - I have really enjoyed the Cascade sheep. They are a perfect size and easy to handle. They have wonderful personalities and nice color diversity. They have thrived on our forest land as we try to change it over to pasture. I would hate to lose them from a lack of diversity. Thanks for the encouragement, I hope to keep hearing from you as well!

  15. Oh no, that is terrible!! Not that it compares in the least, but we've been having this with our chickens killing their chicks, cats getting into the brooder and eating chicks, etc... etc... it gets to the point where you just need an emotional and mental time out to reconfigure. Hope you get it all straightened out, I can't imagine how hard it is to replace rare breeds :(

  16. Jen - Losing any animal is a tragedy compounded by the lost future generations, chicken or sheep. I really need a barn cat but I'm afraid it will eat the chickens and guineas, seems like you have that exact problem!

    The passing of time is helping me think clearer, but the heartache is still there.

  17. Homeschool - Thanks, I just have to keep going forward.