The Farmer milks the ewe for the milk into a paper cup. He pours it into the open end of the feeding tube. By gravity, the milk drips into the lamb's belly.
This tool has saved many, many lambs. It is very easy to do (Kristin can do it).
The Farmer's Answers - Part Two
Question: Following along with you guys has been wonderful.... As a city kid and vegetarian for 30 years (we started meat again 3 years ago) I have a hard time with the idea of eating animals you know personally.... Anyway, how do you decide which ones to eat? Do you ever get so attached to any of them you just can't eat them? In my naivete it would be like eating my cats...who goes next?
The Farmer Says: I have no trouble eating my own animals, nor do Kristin and Julia. It's what we do. My lambs live a fabulous life. They are well cared for and spend most of their life out on pasture eating grass, clover, and wild flowers. This is about as far from Industrial Farming as you can get. And besides, they are incredibly flavorful.
Mostly, we ship the rams. They go to the slaughterhouse when they have reached the proper size. Our goal is to ship a 100 lb. animal which will yield approximately 40 pounds of finished meat.
Question: What is your favorite part of farming? What is your hardest/least favorite part of farming?
The Farmer Says: I like the fact that there is so much variety and I am always outside. My least part of farming is the days when I lose an animal to a predator or illness.
Question: I've seen you mention moving the sheep to different fields. Do you own all the land your sheep graze on? Do you "crop" share with friends and neighbors? What is the average estimation for calculation the acreage needed to feed your sheep?
The Farmer Says: The majority of the land that I farm I don’t own. I use land from six different landowners. Although they all have certain expectations, the bottom line is that they want their land to be well cared for. As to acreage needed, I’m not sure. It depends on the type of land, amount of rainfall and season of the year. I just try to make it work.
Question: When a ewe dies, can/will another ewe 'adopt' the orphaned lamb for milking and feeding purposes?
The Farmer Says: Normally a ewe knows her lamb and wants nothing to do with any other lamb/lambs. You can get another ewe to accept a lamb that isn’t her own by putting the skin of her dead lamb onto the other lamb. Sometimes you can get a ewe to accept another lamb by rubbing the birth fluids of the ewe onto that lamb. (See the photo in yesterday’s post).
Question: If you were not a farmer, then what would you like to do?
The Farmer Says: I have another job selling construction supplies which I do to pay the bills. I would love to farm full-time but it isn’t economically viable to support our family with only a farm income. I can’t think of anything else I would want to do. Maybe work in forestry.
Kristin says: Once a farmer, always a farmer. He was born into a farming family with two other brothers. One of his brothers is a dairy farmer and the other has cows, horses, and chickens along with his full-time job. It is pretty much impossible to take the farmboy away from the farm. I have never tried, nor do I ever plan to. It is who he is.
Question: Do you guys garden and raise your own produce too? If so do you use your manure for fertilizer?
The Farmer Says: We have a vegetable garden and a one acre sunflower garden for cut flowers. We use our sheep manure for fertilizer but it seems that there is never enough. I am always begging my brother for his cow manure.
Kristin Says: I frequently get a manure spreader load of sheep manure for an anniversary or birthday gift. He dumps it next to our vegetable garden near our compost pile. It is one huge pile and takes me at least a year or two to use it all.
Question: I was wondering if you ever thought about making sheep's milk cheese. Too much trouble? No interest? wrong breed? I know little about sheep, but as I had always heard that they were not very friendly I wondered if sheep who were milked regularly become more easy to handle.
The Farmer Says: Milking sheep is a totally different business than raising sheep for meat. I grew up on a dairy farm which my brother still farms with dairy cattle. At this point, I’m not interested in milking sheep. We would have to invest an extraordinary amount of capital which we don't have just to begin.
Sheep are flock animals and prefer to be with each other. Most sheep aren’t very friendly although there is always the exception – hand raised bottle lambs and Julia’s sheep Cora. (The black sheep in the photo below is Cora at the hay bale. She is calling for her lambs!)
Question: Now that I'm facing having to treat my entire sheep and llama flock on an intense and ongoing basis for parasite types and amounts I've never dealt with before, I'm concerned about preparing proper dosages for each of my sheep. I have such a disparity of sizes and ages, I'm clueless how much each sheep weighs. I know dosages are based on sheep weight. Is there a trick to doing this with any accuracy without buying a $2K livestock scale?
The Farmer Says: We don’t have an expensive livestock scale either. I suggest you look up your sheep’s breed in a sheep handbook. They will give an average weight for ewes and rams. Take that weight and figure your dose for that weight.
Question: Do you have to manage deep snowfall with machinery or do the sheep just act as natural plows?
The Farmer Says: Deep snow doesn’t tend to be a big problem for sheep. I would much rather have a snowstorm than an ice storm.