Meet the newest men here on the farm, Fergus (on the left) and Zeke.
In late October we took a road trip to New England to pick these two handsome guys up. Kevin, the two kids and I piled into the pickup truck and hit the road. Kevin and I fueled by coffee (with a
little a lot of knitting thrown in for me) and the kids passing the time with a mix of movie watching, lots of pre-packed snacks, the occasional car nap and some good old travel games.
In the name of full disclosure, this particular farm addition scared me a bit. I had been told scary stories of rams attacking their shepherds, hooking wrist with their horns, butting anyone who dared to turn their back on them and beating other rams until they were both bleeding, or worse. But to have our own herd, and to turn a profit, we have to sell breeding stock. The fiber is fun but it won’t pay the bills. A ram, in residence, had to be next on the list, whether I was fearful or not.
We had spent months searching, weeks visiting various breeders and every ram we saw was either not for sale or didn’t meet the list of traits I was looking for. I was growing more and more frustrated and we were fast approaching the time of the year for breeding that would result in spring lambs. Finally, we found Fergus, after a month of phone tag and lost emails with his breeders, and decided to buy him. They then offered Zeke for sale and we decided to bring him in as well, his bloodlines were too nice to pass up (bloodlines that were completely unrelated to Fergus) and we were told that a ram would not do well alone, so it was a no brainer. Both Fergus and Zeke are the result of artificial insemination and their fathers are rams who live on the Shetland Isles and bringing them here was a great way to get authentic, UK genetics on our farm.
The trip back was smooth and uneventful, they spent most of the time munching on hay. It was an important trip for the future of the farm and we managed to squeeze in an impromptu family vacation. Hurray for the happy coincidence that the only reasonably priced hotel room, in a 30 mile radius, had an indoor water park attached to it. Plus, it was only an hour drive from Kevin’s alma mater, so we got to tour that as well.
They’ve been here for a few weeks now. Right away it became apparent that Fergus was the more personable of the the pair and when ever I walk into their paddock he trots over to my side for a nuzzle and a good scratch under the chin. Zeke is more stoic, the dark, silent type, and will only endure a bit of loving if he absolutely must. They have very distinct personalities, almost more so than the girls. My fears subsided after a day of actual interaction with them and has now been replaced with respectful awareness. I think they are wonderful and we are very excited to see what they bring to our herd this coming spring.
Welcome boys! You will officially make us Shetland Sheep breeders, and for that, you will always hold a special place in my heart. Now, I have some ladies I’d like you to meet…