The rut, or breeding season, is officially underway and will extend through November for our local Peninsular bighorn. Rams are roaming the hills and can lose up to 25% of their body weight during the rut as they travel miles searching for ewes to breed. In fact, we had a young ram hanging around our property checking out the captive ewes. He must have been confused and a bit miffed with our fence keeping him out so he eventually moved on. Rams will smell a ewe’s urine and do a “lip curl” to see if she’s in estrous and receptive to being bred. They have a Jacobson’s organ on the roof of their mouth that senses pheromones present when ewes are in estrous. It’s always an exciting and nerve-racking time of year watching the rams battle and chase the ewes. While the sheep are not aggressive, it may be wise to steer clear of these hyper-focused rams if you happen to encounter them. You could be standing between a ram and the next object of his affection. (Pictured: The ram on the left is doing a lip curl).