The speed at which these lambs are growing is incredible. All the ewes have lambed, except one old girl who is probably done or taking a year off. (Update – she eventually did have a little ewe!) Every lamb was born live – a cause for celebration, as there’s usually a stillbirth or two – a second born twin or a large single for a first time mom. We’re seeing a lot of nice dark legs and very sweet faces on solid bodies that are muscling up nicely. All the ewe lambs are spoken for. We still have a couple of available ram lambs who will be wethered soon if no one requests them as breeding stock. Brutus sired our entire 2018 lamb crop.
There’s always lots of work to do on the farm, but nice weather means it’s time for a lot of fun jobs. Grandma Janette has ponies picketed out to graze in the yard every day this time of year. The grandchildren help with this when they visit, as well as with gentling the younger horses, saddle training, and practicing loading on and off the trailer. There’s a nest of kittens to check on in the barn and donkeys who are always hoping someone will bring them a slice of bread. Poncho the donkey helped with some landscaping work last week, or at least got harnessed up and looked useful for a change!
Newborn lambs and high winds/drifting snow are a bad combination. Over the weekend we were so thankful to be able to bring the sheep inside. After a midwinter predator attack, we repurposed one end of a building, built a temporary pen, and have brought the sheep in every night since. Some years our 3-sided sheds are adequate even through lambing, but this year late episodes of winter weather have made better shelter essential. We’re still feeding some hay, which is unusual for us in April.
Brutus’ lambs are looking great, and so far we have 6 ewe and 3 ram lambs. Pictured above: Left – Anna and Elsa, 8 hours old. First time mom Iris is doing a great job with them. Middle – our daughter with one of Millie’s triplets. They’re getting a few supplemental bottles, and she calls them “the sniffy babies” because they are quite friendly and come up to nuzzle people. Right – ewes and lambs waiting for the storm to end so they can be outside.
Wild little antelope – that’s what our young ewes often act like for the first year or two. This year, I decided to put some effort into taming the 3 we kept. In November, after the mature ewes went in with the ram, I caught and worked with the young ones daily for awhile. Soon they were walking beside or just ahead of me fairly cooperatively. After the first couple of weeks, I started letting our two youngest children, aged 2 and 4, come out and help.
While not exactly submissive, the little ewes do come running at the shake of a grain bucket now, and are beginning to trust people. This will make shearing, lambing, and other human interactions less stressful. I plan to use my newly learned strategies on next year’s lambs when they’re younger, right after weaning, and hopefully our sheep customers will have halter-trained babies by pick-up time!
Merry Christmas from everyone at Kindergarten Farm. James went out to help grandma Janette with chores after presents this morning, and was excited to have snow on the ground! God has provided through another year, and we have so much to be thankful for. Thanks to everyone who worked with and did business with us over the past year; we wish you and your families the very best.
Brutus only has a week left to hang out with his buddy Jasper before he goes in with the ewes. Can’t wait to see his lambs!
We took a walk one fine fall afternoon and visited some of our friends. Hoping for a foal from Karat and Jasmine in the spring!
NABSSAR (Babydoll registry) does an annual photo contest and produces a calendar with the winners. Among those chosen this year was Laura’s shot of Quarter and her lamb in the orchard, which will be the September photo for their 2018 calendar.
The ewes have moved to a creek-bottom pasture that usually stays nice and green through fall. It’s a season of peaceful grazing and regaining their body condition for the coming breeding season. Their lambs were weaned, and those we sold went to their new homes. Aside from a brief parasite attack in some of the weaned lambs, it was a good summer for the flock. It was the first time we’d needed wormer in several years, and they recovered well. Our area was blessed with late summer rains, which meant greener grass and a better second cutting of hay than some years.
*Note: The sheep don’t get grain as part of their normal diet this time of year; only a small amount occasionally as a treat.