Late Winter

As we go through our normal day to day late winter chores, this year we’re busy getting ready for some early arrivals.  Nine of the ewes were bred early by two ‘bad boy’ fence jumping rams and are due, not in April with the rest of the flock, but in the next couple weeks.  It is a challenge to adjust our usual spring lambing and feeding routine to a winter one, but we’re working hard on the logistics.

We’re also working with Tilly, the family milk cow (wow, it feels really great saying that) who will be having her first calf in March.  We’re so excited about this addition to our family and our daily routine.  So wish us luck for the next month or so, it’s been a long time since we’ve milked a cow.  Oh, and be sure to stay tuned for the baby pictures ☺

Shearing Day

Saturday dawned with sleet, hail and strong winds… not the best way to begin shearing day.  Joe and Melvin made short work of our 37 ewes as we ooohed and aaawed over each beautiful fleece as it came off and was bagged.  We vaccinated with CDT, checked FAMACHA scores and checked body condition.  By the time we moved the ewes back out to pasture, the skies were blue and the sun was shining.  What perfect timing!
Lambing will begin in the next couple weeks.  And of course we can’t wait to get our hands on all those gorgeous fleeces!

Signs of Spring

Coltsfoot, daffodils, maple tree blooms, bulging bellies and finally…
Little Mister 1401 – born on Saturday, out of Maire (my+ra), one of the yearlings, and an unidentified suitor.  He is small, weighing 7 lbs 8 ozs but really just the right size as Maire is a yearling and not yet producing much milk.  We were a little worried, but he is gaining weight so we’ll let him continue to ‘encourage’ her to produce more.
The remainder of the lamb arrivals will be pretty spread out as it took as several weeks to get all the breeding groups in place last fall.  The timing should be pretty good as the pastures are just beginning to green-up after the long, harsh winter.

One of These Things

We’ve been playing a lot of “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other” for the last week or so.  With the heavy snowfalls and the apparently inherent ‘es-capability’ of hoggets, there has been an on-going game of musical pastures.  Each morning at feeding time everyone is moved back to their appointed pasture, and the next morning everyone is back in the barn paddock.  This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing except for the varying nutritional needs of the different groups.  We didn’t really have the time or energy to discover and repair the escape routes before the next round of snow began.  So for now… musical pastures it is 🙂

We’re Here

Saturday afternoon was spent breaking up the breeding groups and moving all the ewes back to the barn paddock.  Despite the snow and the bitterly cold wind, it went much better than we expected.  Usually we put up a moving lane to facilitate the moving process, but we didn’t this time because of the weather.  Instead we opened the paddocks one at a time and led each ram back to the barn.  All the ladies followed their guy… success!  We kept our old guy, Liam, and young Fury at the barn with the ewes.  Hopefully that will work out as well as it did last year with Strider.
And so, with a hearty round of the song “We’re all together again… We’re here… We’re here” everyone is settling in nicely.

Full Moon

Despite the full moon, there were no lambs born yesterday.  The ewes spent most of the day in the pasture in a seemingly meditative state soaking up the sun, and of course eating… there’s a lot of eating going on. 

We moved three groups of lambs and their mamas out to the nursery paddock, where they enjoyed getting to know their older cousins, running, jumping and exploring.

All this lack of cooperation inactivity on the ewe’s part, gave us the opportunity to clean out the barn, move some things around and set up additonal lambing jugs.  So in answer to Boo’s Mom’s question yesterday, here’s a little more about jugs. A lambing jug is a small pen where the ewe and lambs are moved shortly after birth.  Unless there is a problem or really bad weather, we usually wait until after the lambs are up and have eaten.  This short confinement (usually two or three days) promotes bonding and gives us the opportunity to watch for any problems the ewe or lamb may experience in those first few days.  After using old wooden pallets and assorted other recycled items, we have slowly invested in this system of welded wire panels and connector hinges.  They are very sturdy and easy to climb in and out of.  They allow us to use our barn space more efficiently as they can be quickly put up, taken down, moved or reconfigured..

Hebe, Patience and their twins are the only occupants at the moment.  They’re getting lonely… come on girls, let’s get moving.

Keeping Watch

It was another quiet day on the lambing front.  Hebe had a wonderful set of twins, a ram weighing 9 lbs 14 ozs and a ewe weighing 10 lbs.  The old pro that she is, Hebe had the little ewe standing up while her first born was beginning to nurse.  She is a great mama.
A large storm front moved through late afternoon with fierce winds, thunder, lightning and a lot of rain.  By that time Hebe and the twins were settled quite nicely in the barn, snug in their lambing jug.

Just as we waited on the storm yesterday, we feel we’re waiting on another… a lamb storm.  As we keep watch over the bulging bellies and swelling udders, the number of ewes that could go anytime keeps mounting.  Here’s hoping all those lambs don’t decide to come at once.