It’s always tempting Fate to make predictions. And we all know gestation calendars can only give an approximation of when to expect a birth. However, this is the first year I managed to keep a marking crayon on my ram (except for his first week) and I can’t resist trying to predict my lambing season.
My guess is that my first ewe to lamb will be Smoky, for the second year in a row. From a distance I saw Cadbury, without his crayon, cover a cross-bred ewe September 17. When all the others received crayon marks later in the month, by process of elimination I figure it must have been Smoky. This makes sense because her ram lamb would have been oldest and nursing least, allowing her to be cycling earlier.
So, from the crayon marks, the order should be:
There are some wild cards in there. Briar, Blackberry, and Madeleine were all bred the same day, so who knows how their order will play out.
Meanwhile Raspberry may have been bred when Cadbury was not wearing his crayon. She should have been — a nubile young ewe who did not give birth as a teenager and so whose condition was not stressed by nursing lambs. Raspberry did not sport a crayon mark until a week after Lily was bred, and that mark was indistinct. It may have simply been a scuff mark from lying close to the ram. It will be interesting to see if she’s actually among the first to lamb, or indeed brings up the rear.
With eleven ewes I have the possibility of 22 lambs. Twins are the goal of all shepherds — it’s called a 200% lambing rate. However I didn’t separate and wean my lambs this year, to give my ewes a couple of months to rest and rebuild their strength from nursing. I didn’t have help and I didn’t get it done. I’ll have to do better next year; I’ll have to come up with a system that makes catching and sorting the sheep easier and more manageable for one person in the field. But the result will likely be fewer twins. It’s discouraging, but I remind myself that every year I learn and improve a little more.
My first lamb(s) should arrive around February 9, and my last, if from Raspberry, in early March. It will be interesting to see how those busy three or four weeks shake out!