It was a busy, blustery morning Friday. First, we had to catch a ram and two wethers to take to the processor. Since we're trying to keep our flock around 20 sheep, we butcher wethers as yearlings. And we finally decided that it was time to call it quits for Albus, a ram with horns that have been trying to grow into his skull, well, forever.
He was a year old the first time we cut off a couple inches from the end of one horn that was headed towards his jaw. We cut off a couple more inches the second and third year. Then last year, his other horn became problematic. This year at shearing, we couldn't fit a finger between his horns and head, so the decision was made to butcher him after his fleece had grown out enough to make a nice pelt.
A lot of shepherds would have butchered him as soon as they realized his horns were going bad. After all, that's not the type of genetics you want to pass on. We were still new to sheep and homesteading when we first faced the problem with Albus, so the idea of butchering him was something that we were not quite comfortable with yet. But each year, the horns grew thicker and closer to his head, and the job of cutting them off with a saw became more difficult and a little scarier. Cut too far into the horn, and you hit blood vessels. And it's a little nerve wracking to use a saw near an animal's eyes.
Even though I felt comfortable with the decision to send him down south, I found myself choking up as Mike put him in the trailer. Perhaps to make myself feel a little better, I gave him some hay for the trip.
As I looked at the gray wether in the pasture, I noticed his wool was parted down his spine. That happens when it rains. And I saw the most beautiful silvery blue fiber. We only have two gray sheep in our flock, one that is much darker and one that is much lighter. After Mike and Jonathan caught the black wether and put him in the trailer, they asked me which other yearling was going. Whether I was feeling a little guilty about Albus, or whether I was so seduced by the gray wether's gorgeous fiber, I said, "That's it. I changed my mind about the other one. Just take those two."
Pictured above is the wether who now needs a name. Maybe Lucky?