A Winter Surprise

Here’s what is currently outside our house, and outside our 3-sided barn, open to the elements:

Snow, ice, and below freezing temperatures.

Here’s what is currently inside our house:

Let’s do that again. Outside:


And up in the 3-sided barn? Here’s what’s up there:

And this:

Holy Hanky Panky, Batman.

As always, we put our ram Erik in with the ladies late December. I did chores every day (as Melissa recovered from surgery) and noticed that there wasn’t much sheep sex going on. This concerned me. Was there something wrong with Erik? Why wasn’t he mounting every female in sight, as he usually did?

It turns out that the reason Erik didn’t engage in much sexual congress with the ewes was that over two-thirds of the ewes were


Let’s all say that together out loud, and please grit your teeth to fully experience the emotional horror of the news:

The sheep were


Instead of lambs being born mid-May (5 months after Erik does his thing), outside in the warm spring, lambs are coming now, in the middle of the winter. Why?

Early September there was unauthorized sheep sex on our farm, probably perpetrated by a randy ram lamb who jumped about three fences to reach the ladies. We didn’t think anything of it because it was so early in the fall and we thought he was much too little to do any damage, so Melissa put him back where he belonged. End of story. Except that the little devil must have stolen a step stool and used it to reach the ewes.

What’s happening now is a very long story, and I’ll post it once I’ve achieved enough emotional distance that I find the whole thing amusing. Look for that post in about ten years.

So if I don’t post much for awhile, it’s because I’m either feeding this:

Or kissing this:

23 thoughts on “

  1. You sure that ram lamb isn’t part tomcat? Seriously though, those lambs are just made of awwwww. And I’m kinda jealous you get to kiss that cuteness any time you want.

  2. OMG, Catherine, those little lambikins are so cute! (even though they arrived far too early)
    I hope the weather warms up now so all the new babies have a good chance to survive.

  3. The lambs are so cute!
    I just subscribed to Farm Tales and The Inkslinger and am looking forward to keeping up with you via the internet.

    By the way, my friend, Ann Etter, loaned me your book Hit by a Farm a couple of days ago. I started reading it and am enjoying it very much..

  4. Oh wow. So much for a quiet week of writing.

    Jackson thinks it’s all wonderful though. I showed him the picture and he clapped his hands and shouted “BAAAAA”.

  5. Ooops. Well, at least lambing season will be over early this year. What do they say about the best laid plans of mice and . . . randy lambs? I’ll be asking the weather gods to bring you warm weather from now on so you and Melissa don’t end up with 15-20 lambs living in the house with you. (You say you didn’t really need this glitch thrown into the scheme of things?)

  6. EEEeeeeee! So cute!! Hahaha it’s funny how that goes– a seemingly simple lil event like a teeny ram jumping a few hurdles and you put him back without even IMAGINING the course of events his short excursion would cause! I hope all goes well!!

  7. Okay, I just linked here from your website because I got your book, The Compassionate Carnivore from the library last night and I stayed up reading it from beginning to end. Why? Well, last weekend I attended (and helped) with the butchering of a pig for my family. I struggled with it, a lot. I couldn’t put into words what I was feeling and I wasn’t able to come to grips with the killing part. So, as I do when I find myself in a quandry, I head to the library for inspiration and WOW was your book the answer to my prayers! I could quote it all day. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for writing this book. I loved the other one too. Both are on my “gotta purchase” list. You ladies are awesome and someday very soon, we are going to have our own farm. Your books will come in handy!! Have a wonderful day. PS Sorry for the lengthy comment, but I was afraid if I emailed, you might think I was a crazy stalker – nope, just a happy, grateful reader!!

  8. Rachild… Jackson says that if you really loved him, you’d drive to MN and take my three bottle lambs and bring them home to him. C’mon, Mom, how can you turn that little guy down? He says he’ll hold his breath until you get him some lambs…

  9. They are cute, aren’t they? But I gotta say—Anyone who can fit into my Carhartt insulated overalls, Carhartt jacket, and snow boots can come on down and take over my life for awhile!

  10. Hey, Melissa,

    Don’t worry about emailing me directly—that’s what it’s for. I LOVE hearing that my books help people sort through ‘stuff’ in their lives.

    And the closest we’ve come to having a stalker is the elderly couple who drove down our driveway to show some friends where we lived. In a community of 2500, it doesn’t take much to become ‘famous’!

  11. Your little ram must have hidden wings like a buck I had. He could fly over almost any fence. And those frisky girls don’t read the books that say that they don’t start going into season until mid-to late August. How about August 4th???? That will give you triplets on January 5th. Fortunately that year was a warm January!
    Good luck with the little ones in the house, we had a few kids spend time inside last year. Thank goodness I still had my baby gates, they worked really well to limit those youngsters to the kitchen.
    They are awfully cute, even if they are a little early! 😉

  12. I’m not sure where you are, but that’s pretty much what it looks like at our farm. Almost all of our ewes have lambed now, instead of in April, when we like. Thankfully we have had few losses. Nor do we have any in the house! I’m definitely going to keep up with your blog. Happy lambing!

  13. Ohmygosh! What did James Herriot say about lambs being given an extra dose of cuteness? How do you get anything done with those two in the house? If you need a baby sitter, just let me know.

  14. Carol B…. August 4th? What a nightmare! Sounds like both you and knittingmama have had breeding ‘oops.’ Glad we’re not the only ones!

    Knittingmama, we’re in MN… big ice storm coming tomorrow. Oh joy.

    Mama Llama—the lambs are out in the barn now, and eating 3 times a day instead of 4. I’ve put an ad in the paper…anyone want 3 babies? 🙂

  15. sanderfarm…yikes, you’re right!

    This morning someone called about the ad, and arrived an hour later to buy the bottle lambs. I’m so relieved not to be feeding them 3 times a day, but I always cry when they go. Big baby.

    I’d take them on walks to get them out of the barn, and the three would line up behind me, sort of a ‘lamb train,’ and follow me up and down the driveway. Darned cute…gotta get a new camera so I can record videos…

  16. lollollol, the bit about getting a step stool has tickled me!

    Can I have the three lambs, they are so cute, not sure I’d find three sheep rampaging round my small garden so cute, I’d better stick to my chickens!

  17. Glad you found a home for the bottled lambs! Right now there are quite a number of farms whose Ewe’s are lambing. But this is Colorado. Today in the 60s. Nice day to have lambs! 🙂

  18. There’s an old English song, “The Lincolnshire Shepherd” that gives a nod to the inconveniences of lambing:

    They’re like a lot of bairns, they are, like children of me own,
    They fondle round about owd Shep afore they’re strong and grown;
    But they gets independent-like, before you know, they’ve gone,
    But yet again, next lambing time we’ll ‘a’ more to carry on.

    Yan, tan, tethera, tethera, pethera, pimp,
    Fifteen notches up to now and one ewe with a limp.
    You reckons I should go away, you know I’ll never go,
    For lambing time’s on top of us and it’ll surely snow.

    (The “yan, tan, tethera” line is supposed to be a remnant of an ancient sheep-counting rhyme.)

    If you want to hear the song, it’s on an album called “Green Fields” by The Watersons.

  19. MaineCelt,

    What a great song! I’m guessing sheep have been part of folk songs for thousands and thousands of years… how wonderful that some of them survive.

    Thanks for sharing that with us!

  20. Sweet baby sheep.

    Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed “Hit By A Farm.” It’s been making the rounds of the ladies in my quilting group, and they all love it too! (though I can’t say it has led any of us to make the leap to sheep farming)(yet)

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