Meet Taffy. She's one of my East Friesian dairy sheep that I had shipped from Wisconsin this past August. Of the four sheep, Taffy is my shy girl. The others come running right up for treats and scratches and hugs, but Taffy lingers and doesn't really want to be touched. Once you're up close, however, she'll stand and let you rub her all over, including under her tummy and on her udder. Which will be a very useful thing, being how she's a dairy sheep and all.
Taffy's tummy is looking a bit round. It's been looking round for over a month now, which has me wondering just when she was bred. They were all such babies when they got here, about four months old. Because Darling and I were going to be out of town for a week in late August, we felt it would be easier to just leave everyone together for that month instead of separating them. My thought was that, with no one home to watch closely over them, they'd be safer in one group. I didn't expect Taffy to be cycling that early...
But stranger things have happened. Well, at least things as strange. We did have a Romney ewe a couple years ago that got pregnant at 4 1/2 months of age. Typically, ewe lambs don't experience their first estrus cycle until they're 6-8 months old, and even then their first cycle isn't very reliable and breeding often doesn't occur. But it did with the Romney...and Taffy's tummy sure looks round.
This morning I sweet talked my way up to Taffy at breakfast. She didn't want to be touched, but she did want to eat the grain, so she reluctantly allowed me access to her underside. Sure enough, I could feel a wee little mammary bulge down there. Not much, mind you, just a wee bit. I peeked under her tail; pink and a tiny larger than what I'd expect a ewe lamb vulva to look like. Just to be sure, I peeked under Bessie's tail and felt for her udder; nothing. I snuck up behind another ewe lamb to peek under her tail, and it looked like Bessie's...nothing there. Taffy allowed me one last look; nothing had changed in the past two minutes, it was still pinker and still poochier than the other girls.
So Taffy is definitely going to lamb. When? Well, that I can't be certain of. She doesn't look far enough along to have been bred in August, so I'm thinking perhaps March as I didn't have her in with the ram in September (I don't think...did I?) Some day I'll get my breeding program down good; I'll have breeding pens and different pastures for separating ewes and rams and lambs...and I can leave a ram and ewe together for a couple weeks, then remove them, then put them back again a couple weeks later. That will help me pin down actual due dates. But for now, it's a guessing game. All I know is Taffy is going to be a mommy this spring!