Weaning Day

Saturday was weaning day.  We set up moving lanes on Friday, and moved everyone, including the yearling ewes and wethers, into the corral overnight.  Bright and early the next morning, we got to work.  All the sheep were scored with the FAMACHA card and treated.  The adults went out the side door and back the moving lane into fresh pasture behind the house.  Liam and Strider have such pleasant personalities that we left them in with the ewes for the next couple weeks.  The lambs went out through the corral and out a moving lane into the graveyard field where hay had been made a couple weeks ago. 
After a late lunch and a brief rest, we headed back to the barn to finish taking down the temporary fencing for the moving lanes.  A rapid change of plans had to be made as the lambs had torn down a corner of their fencing and had moved into the pen with Poseidon and Aragorn, our two biggest rams.  There they were bunched up in the corner closest to the barn bawling for their mamas.  We set to work repairing and moving fencing, and, of course, by the time we were done they had scattered and were happily munching poison ivy leaves off the locust tree trunks.  Finally after much coaxing and gentle herding (all the while trying very hard not to attract the attention of the rams) we got (what we thought) was everybody moved back.  On the walk back to the barn we heard a lamb echoing down over the hill.  Of course it turned out not to be an echo, but 6 or 7 lambs down below the rams.  Luckily they had meandered back up to the top closer to the other lambs and we were able to coax them over the next morning.
The ewes spent that evening and the next day wandering from one end of their paddock to the other looking for their lambs, calling them all the while.  That always pulls at our heartstrings.  Everybody has now settled in nicely and things are much calmer… and much quieter.

After Weaning

The ewes’ lambing chores are done for another year, and their job now is to regain strength and condition.  It has still been pretty hot and muggy for them so they spend much of the day under the trees.  They come out for brief periods of the day but do most of their eating at night and in the early morning.  We are feeding them about a bale of hay a day, as the pasture is still growing slowly even after the recent storms.  The shepherdess/s’ job is to keep an eye on them to make sure they are all recovering from the big job of raising their lambs, and that everyone is drying up without complications.
The lambs are already becoming much more independent.  They have been moved to the cleanest and greenest pasture on the farm.  Hay was made here in early June and nothing has been on it since late March.  The lambs are now scattered all over the field in small groups when grazing, but are quickly learning to come when they hear the call “C’mon sheep!”  We scored them again on Saturday, and all but three’s scores were satisfactory.  Those three were marked with chalk on their rears so that we can easily spot them in the field and keep an eye on them.  It is very rewarding observing the lambs growing and developing their unique personalities.  It’s lamb watching time, once again.