I love lambing season. It is exciting, busy, and ridiculously wonderful. There is nothing to compare with new life, and little lambs are no exception. These last few weeks have seen the addition of several super cute babies here at Daffodil Acres that we and their sweet mommies happen to be rather proud of.
Just in case anyone was wondering, the sheep were his idea.
I wanted horses, chickens and a couple of cats. That was it. We bought a modest sized piece of property and built a barn and fenced it for my lifelong passion. Well, I should say the hubs masterminded and did most of the work building it and I helped some. I was pretty happy with the status quo and my two horses.
And then it happened. The hubs began to take notice of a neighboring sheep farm. “Let’s get some sheep,” he suggested one day. “Why do you want sheep?” I asked incredulously. I had no desire to get sheep and was suspicious of the upkeep of additional animals. “’Cause I can eat them!” He replied. Of course. “Why do you always want to eat everything?!” I groaned. (This man. I’m telling you. I see a cute animal, and he sees a nice juicy cut of meat!) “They eat the weeds in the field that the horses won’t eat, and then I can eat them!” came his reply. “Well if the ram smells anything like a billy goat, then you can forget it!” I retorted.
Lambs grow fast, or at least they should. Most of the time lambs can be weaned anywhere from 60-120 days, depending on the circumstances. Weigh all the lambs on the same day, and then adjust for their ages and a few other factors to calculate how each of your ewes is performing. Textbook perfect, right? Well...
I don't know why I didn't think of this before it was actually time to weigh the lambs, but we only have a bathroom scale. In theory however, all you should need to do is:
1.) Weigh the husband.
2.) Convince the husband to stand on the bathroom scale while holding the lamb.
3.) Subtract the weight of the husband from the weight of the husband plus the lamb.
Easy, right? Um, not exactly.
A couple of weekends ago we were out of town a for few days and left the care of our farm to a trusted friend and neighbor. Just before we were about to head home my neighbor contacts me to tell me that Daphne (one of the yearling ewes) has diarrhea with mucous and a little bit of blood in it. "Great", I thought to myself, "Now what do I do?" I really wasn't sure what it was and began to imagine the worst, thinking it could be some contagious parasitic disease or something. (There are parasites that can cause diarrhea.) Daphne was apparently unfazed by the whole thing, acting fine, and continuing to eat grass like nothing was out of the ordinary. I decided to call on a more experienced shepherd for help.
When I was about 10 years old, my little friend and I wanted nothing more than to go bird watching. She lived out in the country in Southern Indiana, where gently rolling hills and meadows met thick woods. The deer loved to be anywhere here and quietly graze and raise their young in the springtime. It was a beautiful day. We struck out on an adventure to scout out and journal on any bird’s nest we could find, drawing pictures and writing descriptions of the birds next to a few meticulously placed cute stickers, all the while relishing the fragrant air and soft breezes and golden sunshine. Having looked in on the robin’s nest and the bluebirds, very carefully so as not to disturb them, we decided to venture further in our bird-hunting and walked happily down the dusty dirt and gravel road. There was one mild disturbance to our perfect morning however: It seemed as though the neighbor’s dog might be following us.
When I said that katahdins shed kinda like a horse would in the springtime, I meant that some of them shed in the springtime, same as a horse. After that the similarities stop. Horses shed their fine hair rather evenly. Katahdins on the other hand might shed coarse hair with a certain amount of fine wooly undercoat in funny looking clumps or even sheets. Each sheep sheds a little differently, depending on its coat type. Phoebe here has rubbed up against the fence and effectively taken the shedding hair off her sides already, leaving the top part of her coat a little rough looking.
"I see you have goats!"
If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me...
For all you city folk out there, let me explain:
Goats have small pointy tails that stick straight up in the air, kinda like a deer, while sheep have long tails that hang down, kinda like that of a cow.
There, that was easy, wasn't it? But, you say, I thought sheep had short stubby tails and thick puffy wooly coats! Well, katahdins are a type of hair sheep, so they aren't very wooly to speak of. They shed their winter coats sort of like a horse would in the springtime. It isn't necessary to shear, or clip their coats, because they shed naturally. Of course, if you are into wool and want the fiber, then hair sheep are not for you. However, if you are looking for a meat breed that tolerates the heat well, then meet katahdins.
Phoebe is only a yearling. She just had her first birthday this past December. Yesterday as we were taking a walk around looking at things, Lance noticed that Phoebe was in labor. I had wanted to witness a lamb birth for quite some time. Up until this point though it had always somehow happened when we were either sleeping or gone from the house altogether, as though the stork had just delivered them out of thin air and they appeared like beautiful little presents in the field, received lovingly by the expectant mothers. This time though we were fortunate and privileged to witness a miracle.