Notes from Windward: #70


Breeding the Ewes;
the Celebration after the Culling

Sheep Update, December 2010



     The culling of our sheep is over for the year. Whitey, formally known as "snowy," had proven herself functionally barren for the past few years. Whitey had been a mother in her previous life as "snowy" but had since stopped giving lambs. We are not sure exactly why. She was so friendly and gentle, but sadly could not be afforded a life without lambing. Whitey was peaceably taken out of the world in October.

     That leaves us with 6 members of the current flock of sheep:

  • 1 proven ewe (Dolly)
  • 1 lamb (Audit)
  • 2 yearling rams (Joker and Pip)
  • 2 unbred gimmers (Lily and Luna)

     (for clarification, I've included some descriptions of flock terminology at the end of this post.)



     Dolly, Lily and Luna (all of the females except Audit) are currently being bred. Audit was born this past spring on April 15th, tax day, and won't be bred until next fall.

     Our plan this season is to refrain from inbreeding as much as possible. I think of the flock as having 2 lines:

  • The Pia line - all those descended directly from Princes Pia, the top mama since at least 2008. Pip and Luna are the surviving link to the Pia line.

  • The Dolly line- all those decended from Dolly, our only current proven Ewe. This includes Dolly and all her kids - Joker, Lily, and Audit.

     Except for Dolly herself, all the sheep share a common ancestor on the father's side. His name is Chaucer, and he was the flock sire for several years. He was a "biiiig" ram.

     He passed away in late winter 2008 and was replaced with two of his sons, Pip and Joker, both born 2009.


     Dolly, and her daughter Lily (born in 2009) are being bred by Pip. Lily and Pip have the same Dad, but mothers from different lines. Pip's grandma was Pia. Genetically, they are about as far apart as is possible in our current flock.

Sir Pipicus Lambicus wooing Dolly


     Luna, daughter of Pia (2009) is being bred by Joker. Lily and Joker are both children of Dolly.

Joker courting Luna


     We look forward to seeingwhat kinds of combinations will come out of this year's breeding. Until then, here's a review of flock terminology:

  • Bellwether ‒ sheep that leads the herd often wearing a bell.
  • Dam ‒ the mother
  • Ewe or Yoe ‒ slang term for an adult female sheep.
  • Gimmer ‒ unbred female sheep over one year of age.
  • Hogget ‒ a British term for a yearling sheep that has not yet been shorn.
  • Ram or Buck ‒ slang term for a male sheep.
  • Sire ‒ the father
  • Teaser ‒ ram that have been surgically altered in a way that prevents him from reproducing.
  • Tup ‒ British term for an uncastrated adult male sheep.
  • Wether ‒ a male sheep that has been castrated as a lamb.
  • Yearling ‒ an animal between 1 and 2 years of age.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 70