Friday, October 5, 2007

New Boys in Town

The other thing that happened recently (Wednesday night, actually, but I haven't had a chance to write about it until now), is that my new rams from Frelsi Farm arrived at last!

I've been very excited about these boys and---having purchased them after only seeing a couple of photos of them as young lambs---have been waiting quite impatiently to see them now for the first time as 5-month old "teenagers."

It's a remarkable thing about Icelandic sheep in this country, that the demand for good bloodlines is strong enough that people start shopping months and months in advance, scouting out the best bloodlines, putting down deposits in January to reserve lambs that won't even be born until April, and won't be delivered to our farms until October.

In my case this year, I paid $1,650.00 (plus shipping) for these two ram lambs that I'd never even seen in person.

It can be a roll of the dice. Doing your research and going with a reputable breeder helps a lot. But even the breeder can't always tell which lambs are going to be the most exceptional and which ones will fail to live up to their early promise. In my various sheep purchases, I've had occasions to be pleasantly surprised at the sheep that arrived on delivery day, and occasions where I was surprised, but not quite so pleasantly.

So you can imagine that I was holding my breath a little as I was about to see my new boys for the first time.

I gotta say, I think they were worth the wait!

The white one, Taj, was smaller than average when I bought him. I liked his bloodlines enough that I decided to risk it anyway, and he has grown up very nicely into a beautiful, big fellow. No size problems there! He has very good shoulders, excellent horn spread, and a plush, silky fleece with exceptional luster. Very solid and correct, and just an overall BEAUTIFUL sheep.

The brown one, Tut (as in Tutankhamen), has horns that are just a shade narrower than my ideal, but that's where my criticism of him ends. He has SUPERB shoulders, really nice build, very good size, and also a soft, silky, rich fleece.

These guys are definitely exactly what my flock needs. Their lines should combine very nicely with what I already have, and make the whole flock better. I can't wait to see what kind of lambs they produce.

Some of the ewes seem to think the same thing. Although the new boys are in the isolation pen, separated from the rest of the flock, a small contingent of the ewes spent today camped out at the nearest spot near the fence, eyeing the new prospects. It's too early yet for them to really be starting to get into breeding mode, but they're beginning to remember the possibility.

A couple of other nice things about the new rams: They both have calm, friendly, docile temperaments. And they both seem to have done very well against the parasites on their home farm. Granted, they don't get tested nearly as thoroughly against heat and parasites growing up in Maine as they do here in hot, humid Virginia, but still, they are in excellent condition, with good, bright-red eyelid tissues indicating no sign of anemia from parasite overload.

So, we're off to a good prelude to breeding season this year. Time will fly by now, and before you know it, it'll be late March and I'll be posting pictures of our first baby lambs of 2008.


Meggie said...

Nancy: Congrats on your two handsome rams...they're real beauties!! Will you breed them to your ewes this fall? Please keep us posted about their offspring.

Meggie said...

Since your two new rams are in your dating game poll, I guess you ARE going to breed them soon. See, I'm learning all the time...

Nancy Chase said...

Yes, I'm quite excited to see the lambs these boys will produce. I haven't decided yet which ewes they'll be bred to, but they will definitely each get a small breeding group of their own at the end of this month.