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Feeling Sheep-ish

AKA: Internet, Meet Julie

Julie, when she first arrived

When we got our sheep last October, We got a young ram, a wether, 3 adult ewes and 6 lambs. We later added another lamb, an older ram to "service" the ladies this year and several more older girls.

From the moment we met her, Julie has been a stand out. Despite most of our soay having similar colored wool - with a few exceptions - Julie is the only one I can tell apart without looking at her ear tag. She is more curious than the others, more likely to come up to me even when I don't have food and the only one who will make eye contact without running away.

You can see that Julie's coat is much heavier than her sisters

Soay shed their coat in the spring, rather than requiring sheering. They are one of the few remaining wool breeds that do this. However, for the ewes, some of that shedding process is hormonal - if the don't lamb, they may not shed completely. In Julie's case, she hadn't shed hardly at all and spent the summer still wearing her heavy wool coat. The cooler-than-average weather and the rain we got were - in general - a great frustration to us here, but I'm sure that to Julie they were a blessing.

This year, Julie will certainly be lambing - she is currently bigger than any of her sister ewes - and we hope this will allow her to finally divest herself of all that weight. If she continues to be stuck with last year's coat though, we will give her a helping hand.

Which brings us to why Julie is so much bigger. There are a few possibilities, all of which are pretty exciting. The first is that she is carrying multiple kids. As long as the birthing goes well, this is excellent for us, since our current wait list out-strips the number of lambs we are expecting. Being able to get more new breeders of these awesome sheep would be wonderful.

Our young ram

The second reason involves the young ram. Goddard was brought in in mid-November because the grown ewes refused to have anything to do with our young man. Even on the occasion he could sneak up on them, he would often just stand with his front hooves on them, looking confused, for the split second before they bolted. Even when they were in heat, this boy was simply too much of a youth for them to be interested.

Except for Julie. From day one she was very interested. She would stand for him time and time again, even though he never did anything but stand there. She would actively back into him and encourage him to mount her. So, while unlikely, it is possible that Julies is bigger because she is farther along.

This is exciting because it will mean that we have a kid/kids from an unrelated male, which would allow us to make a breeding set for some lucky person. We will know based on the time of her birthing and if the lambs are piebald like our young male. Julie's cradle robbing may result in a few more soay, and one step further from extinction for these wonderful, primitive sheep.

Good job Julie.

Julie, smiling for the camera

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