Pregnant Soay sheep go goofy on us

Here we are in the dead of winter, minding our own business, whittling away at the projects that we put off all spring and summer and fall, and our pregnant ewes have gone totally ditzy. About 6-8 weeks out from lambing, they should be settling in to a nice matronly, placid late gestation, like ovine Mona Lisas.  Not our ladies.  Along about mid-afternoon, they start acting like ninnies, jumping and stotting, racing from one end of their pasture to another for no apparent reason, head-butting, shimmying like crazy, and generally acting like complete doofuses (is that a word? or maybe doofi?).

The gimmers – yearling ewes who we have not yet bred – don’t do this.  They are off in their own pasture minding their own business and enjoying the gradually warming rays of sunshine. You would think they’d be the nutsy ones since they are basically teenagers.  But no, it’s our supposedly “mature” ewes out there making fools of themselves.  We cannot figure it out.  Maybe they are starting to feel their lamb fetuses moving?  Or somehow the lengthening days trigger a goofy response?  Whatever it is, we see it each year.  Back when we were doing AI for the first time and fretting up a storm about coddling our “special” AI ewes during pregnancy, they did the same thing, and a couple of them were carrying hormonally-induced triplets.  Scary stuff, especially when they bash each other from the side.  Fortunately, none of the ewes got up enough of a head of steam to harm their in utero lambs and none of them hurt themselves or their sisters.

I don’t even know how to look for whatever lore exists on this issue.  Imagine the Google search:  “crazy pregnant ewes” or “ditzy sheep”?  Hasn’t worked so far.  If anyone reading this post has a clue what is going on, I’d be grateful for your insights.  Otherwise, we’ll just wait it out, knowing the lambs will be here before long.

For now …