Catching a Glimpse

In between all the feeding, watering, fence moving, mucking out, and everyday farm chores, we are feeling so blessed to catch these glimpses of first breath, first steps, the first signs of independence.

The farm air is filled with sweet little lamb baas and mamas’ answering nickers.

Today’s a big day as we move the yearlings and attempt to bring the mamas and lambs back into the barn for shots and a health check.  All the while keeping an eye on the ewes that have yet to lamb.  Wish us luck… this first time getting everyone back to the barn can turn into a real comedy!


422 bales of hay from the graveyard field yesterday!  It is the field where we run the lambs after weaning and winter the hoggets.  This was a very good yeild and much better than our first day of hay making. 
We’re back at it today, as we’ve already got the old barn field down.  But first we’re off to bring the ewes and lambs in from pasture for a health check and second round of CDT shots.  Maybe we better get a little breakfast first. 😉

If you haven’t already, be sure to comment on Wednesday’s post – it’s a give-away!

First Shots

This beautiful, pastoral scene… ewes and lambs peacefully grazing… is really quite different from the activity on the farm just a few hours earlier.  Let’s rewind…
We rounded up all the ewes and lambs bright and very early yesterday morning (that was a zoo, there should have been a movie made) and brought them back to the barn for a health check-up.  We herded them through a moving lane we put up on the outside of the perimeter fencing the night before.  It took three of us (Thanks, Mom!), two on the inside and one on the outside.  Once, again, the shepherds’ crooks were invaluable.  We did FAMACHA checks on the ewes; most were twos, but we had a few we needed to worm.  The lambs received their first CD-T shots, FAMACHA checks and tail checks. 
We have had a problem with fly-strike this year at the tail docking area… the very thing we are trying to prevent by docking their tails.  We’ve never had this problem before.  (It’s probably a result of the unusually mild winter; the flies are bad already this year.  Has anyone ever tried Fly Parasites?)
Everyone behaved very well in the barn and were very relaxed and quiet.  That was wonderful because it made everything go pretty smoothly.  After the shepherdess/s did some re-hydrating, we all headed back out the barn door, but to a new pasture.  The ewes and lambs are now in the knoll pasture.  It was very noisy for several hours as it took quite awhile for the mamas and little ones to find each other again.  But everything has quieted down and they seem quite happy, once again.
(If you’re new to our blog, you may be wondering about the farming detail in some of our posts.  We began our blog as a farm journal, somewhere we can go to quickly find… when did we do that? what did we do?  We keep very detailed paper records also, but we can access this from basically anywhere… even in the field on our phones 🙂

Big Weekend Plans

The breeding ewes have spent the last six weeks or so in one of the hayfields, giving some of the pasture paddocks a rest.  They spend the day in temporary fencing, coming inside the pine grove paddock’s perimeter fencing at night.  We have moved the large temporary paddock twice which has allowed the ewes to graze a large portion of the hayfield.  We have followed this plan for a couple years and it seems to have really improved the hayfield along with eliminating many of the weed problems.
This weekend we plan to move the ewes back to the barn paddock and begin hoof trimming and crutching in preparation for breeding season.  It won’t be long now… the circle of life begins again.

Musical Pastures

In our never ending quest for better flock health, we’ve been busy playing musical pastures.  The ewes have finally made it to the hayfield by the old barn.  This involves putting up more than 1/2 mile of temporary net fencing, which will be moved several times in the coming weeks.  They are brought back in to the permanent pine grove pasture in the evening to protect them from predators.  This has worked out very well.  The ewes are on new pasture in preparation for breeding season, and the hayfield is being weeded and fertilized.

In an effort to avoid another scandal like the one last year involving the young Maebh, we decided to separate the ram lambs from the ewe lambs following FAMACHA scoring on Saturday.  The ram lambs are now in the granddaddy green pasture, and the ewe lambs were moved back to the graveyard pasture.  We were really excited to score 19 ‘ones’ and 0 ‘fours’ this time.  We did have to treat about a dozen ‘threes’, but that is less than 25%.  The cooler weather is probably helping.  All the lambs are out of the barn and out on pasture.  Time to start planning for fall shearing.

Good Morning, Sunshine

We were treated to a beautiful tropical sunrise yesterday morning, and unfortunately the heat, haze and humidity that went with it.  It was FAMACHA day so we headed to the barn at daybreak in an attempt to beat the worst of the heat.  The lambs scored pretty well, and two of the three being treated in the barn were sent back to the field with the others.  The lambs were so calm and well behaved that we were finished before the sun had a chance to burn off the morning fog.

Lamb Scoring

Saturday was FAMACHA scoring day again for the lambs.  It was foggy and wet, but they came in to the barn like troopers.  They are slowly beginning to understand the routine.  Scores were not quite as good as the last time, but we have had a lot of hot and wet weather which can make parasite loads spike.  We kept three lambs in the barn for some extra care as they scored 4’s making them a little anemic.  We will give them vitamin shots and an iron shot to give them a little boost to get back on the right track.

Scoring the Lambs

We brought the lambs back to the barn very early Saturday for FAMACHA scoring.  This is a system that uses a chart to evaluate the mucous membranes of the lower eyelid to show the presence of anemia, an indicator of barber pole worms, the primary parasite in our area.  We also evaluate their body condition, general appearance and behavior.  We record the results on charts so that we can track the health condition of each lamb.  They each get a bright blue chalk mark on the top of the head after checking.
We were really pleased with the results, given the extreme heat we have been experiencing and that weaning occurred about two weeks ago.  Almost 25% of the lambs scored 1 (highest), and we only needed to worm about 10% of them.  Not a single lamb scored below 3 (4 and 5 are considered cause for alarm).  Hopefully the rest of the summer will go as well.  This is a very pretty group of lambs.

Rotating Pastures

Summer is a constant cycle of rotating pastures… trying to minimize parasites and get the most out of each paddock.  The ewes and lambs were moved to the barn pasture a few weeks ago so this weekend we moved the yearlings and wethers to the knoll paddock after it had been brush hogged with the Squealer (love that name).  Then we brush hogged the paddock that the yearlings vacated, encouraging new growth and disrupting the life-cycle of any paraistes they left behind.  In a month of so it will be ready for new tenants.

We also set up temporary fencing in a section of the barnyard that we neglected avoided mowing for a few weeks, and loosed the bio-mowing ewes and lambs.  This, in an attempt, to stretch the barn pasture for a couple more weeks when we will wean the lambs.  We are trying to prevent the added stress of moving them twice… in two weeks… in this heat .

Speaking of heat… this weekend’s hazy, hot and very humid weather had us all seeking the shade whenever we could.

Yearlings, Hera and Triplets

There is a seemingly endless cycle of putting fence up… taking fence down… putting fence up… taking fence down… going on at the farm.  The happy sheep produced by this paddock merry-go-around sure makes it all worthwhile.  The yearlings were moved into the third and final section of the barnyard last weekend, and will be moved once again this weekend.
They have been joined by Ceres (in the foreground below) who is doing so much better!  Although she is losing some of her wool from the stress and looks a little rough, she is eating well and really enjoys being out of the barn.

Hera and the triplets have also moved out of the barn and are enjoying their own little paddock.  We began supplementing the little ewe with a bottle.  She is less agressive and doesn’t seem to be getting her fair share of milk.  Hopefully she will begin to catch up with her brothers.