It's still unbelievably cold here. The snow has got a thick coat of ice on it and it makes walking difficult for humans, much less sheep and lambs. They have managed to forge a couple of paths through the ice but most of them are just staying in the barn or just outside it where the enormous bales of hay are.
The lambs are growing - some more than others. The single lambs always grow the quickest because their mom's are only feeding one baby and they make the same amount of milk. The twins usually are smaller and so the grain helps them gain some size. The Farmer is talking about trying to separate the sets of twins and singles (and their moms) next year so he can better address this problem. I'm not sure how he plans to do that since there is only one barn and maybe it is best I don't ask.
Lambs love to be in high places. Frequently there will be 4 or 5 lambs on top of a large bale of hay munching away. Then they literally fly off the bale, run around, and climb back up again. I've been trying to get a photo of this but so far, no luck.
When The Farmer feeds out a bale of hay, it is a big event. Everyone gathers around and munches away. It gets pretty dicey, this feeding thing. The bales weigh more than 800 lbs. He picks them up with a long spike that is on his tractor, transports it to the feeder and then drops it. It's best if there is someone there to help out because the sheep get so anxious to eat that there is a real danger for them - especially the lambs. In this photo, his brother David, The Dairy Farmer, is helping to shoo away the sheep while the bale is dropping and Jeremy is looking on.
The lambs are genuinely eating the hay now - not just picking at it to see what it is. This little guy was so desperate for some hay that he was walking all over the backs of the mom's. He was trying his hardest to jump in the feeder to eat but couldn't quite make it. The adult sheep crowd out the lambs because they are so hungry. The lambs end up eating after their moms are through. There is always enough food left for everyone. I guess sheep are a little different than humans. It seems I always feed my family first and then get my own food after everyone is settled. But then, the ewes are feeding their lambs all day long so I guess it is no different.
Right now I am reading a fabulous book by Michael Pollan called The Omnivore's Dilemna: A Natural History of Four Meals. I love his writing - he makes what could be a very dry subject interesting. I'm about half way through it. If you have any interest in your food, how it is produced, and how the agriculture industry - both organic and regular - has evolved, I highly suggest it.
Easter is coming up on April 8th this year. Many of the lambs that we are growing will be going to an auction where they will be sold to processors and become Easter dinner. After reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, it makes me realize what a good quality product The Farmer is producing. At this time, we sell the lambs into the normal chain of supply and really don't get as much money for them as we should. But for right now, it's the best way to keep farming and fitting the sheep operation in with the other parts of our life. I keep toying with the idea of going to a local farmer's market and selling the lamb direct to the end-user but I just haven't gotten my act together. Maybe when Julia gets a little older? Something to think about.