Attentive readers will recall that as breeding season approaches, we begin to gather our ideas about which ram should be matched with which ewe.
Our flock is focused on wool as our product: we keep all our lambs because each will produce 9 to 14 pounds of wool a year over its lifetime. This means that we need to produce only enough lambs to replace sheep that have died or might die. In short, we are not in the position of Mrs. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice who found herself with five marriageable daughters, all five of whom needed husbands. We need breed only five ewes out of some fifty.
The fellow who appeared to court the Bennet girls—Mr. Darcy—had an income of ten thousand pounds per annum. He met with Mrs. Bennet’s approval.
Our Mr. Darcy is named Raphael.
He came to us with his owners, Bill and Linda Koeppel of Ann Arbor, prize-winning breeders of Border Leicesters and producers of prize-winning fleece, who are cutting down the size of their flock. Raphael’s qualities are apparent particularly when he is seen with a group of rams: he’s gregarious, and he’s big and burly.
Like many Border Leicesters he is friendly with people and in fact likes a nice neck scratch from time to time. But the key to his value is the length of his backbone, because the longer the backbone, the more wool will a sheep produce. And what color!
We will take care, of course, not to breed him to his kin but rather to three mature ewes of good size, maternal disposition, and sound brown wool. Two of his own daughters we will introduce to our own Brown Mom’s Son who is the fellow with the green ear tag, not so long but completely unrelated and otherwise admirable.
We shall see. Stay tuned.