Monday, June 22, 2009

Dappled Dolce

Dolce and Dan.
Dolce has been especially affectionate lately. She is always the first to come up. However, when her lambs are very young, she prefers not to have too much interference from the shepherd.
This is the time of year when the ewes become really friendly. I suspect they suddenly prefer my tranquil scratches and pets to the brutish demands of their hefty twin lambs. Once in a while I'll see one of the ladies stop to nurse her lambs. The youngsters butt the ewe's udder so hard they lift her back feet off the ground. The ewe walks away after about 1 full second of snacking. The lambs hold on for dear life and then are left behind, dazed and confused as to why mommy doesn't love them anymore. They dog her steps like burly gnats. She never looks back for them anymore. They can fend for themselves for the most part now. The lambs are reluctant to give up their baby status, but it is a role the ewes seem quite determined to relieve them of around this time of year.
I always feel a little bit bad for the lambs. But they are rolly chunks from all the milk and good grass they are on, so there really is nothing to worry about. When the lambs are all three months old, I will pull out the ramlings and give them their own pen for weaning. The dams will still have their daughters for company. I don't separate them until breeding season in late November. This routine works well for me.
Have any other shepherds observed that, with regard to natural weaning, ewes tend to be more firm with their ewelings and more indulgent with their ramlings? I wonder if it is because the ram lambs are so bold and persistent or if it is because the ewes are teaching their daughters about or within the hierarchy of the flock. Or maybe it is just my imagination...?

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