Friday, May 10, 2013

Weaning, Moving Ewes, and Grazing

Slowly, we have been moving trailer loads of ewes to the different pastures our sheep graze during the summer and fall. We have been waiting for the grass to be ready. It rained good the other day and all the grasses kicked in. The ewes have been antsy - seeing the green grass develop but it wasn't ready for them yet.

Our first step is to move all the ewes and lambs into the greenhouse. One by one, The Farmer catches the ewes who had lambs in January. I work the gate - clearly the easy part of the job. All I can say is it is a good thing he was a distance runner because the sheep don't move easy. They don't want to be split apart from the flock.


How do we know who lambed when? If you followed lambing this winter, you remember we marked each mama with a different color stripe, changing the color of the stripe every two weeks. I must say, the system worked. It was easy to pick out the ewes who had lambs which no longer needed their milk.

It was noisy. The ewes knew that they were being separated from their lambs. The lambs didn't. Once we got each batch of 20 on the trailer, off they went to graze green pastures. I'm sure the lambs will be looking for mama tonight but it was time! All mamas need a break to get back into condition for breeding in August. It's not far away!

When the ewes arrived at their new home, they bolted off the trailer.....

heads to the ground relishing the tender grasses. Sheep are all about the food. I'm sure in a couple days the ewes will completely forget about their lambs.


They'll have poopy butts for a few days. I know - TMI. But that's what happens when they switch from hay and silage to green grass.

Nessie did a great job rounding up the animals. She hasn't been able to work all winter because it's dangerous to have a dog around the ewes with their lambs. They can become quite protective of the lambs and we don't need anyone getting hurt. In a couple weeks, she will probably lose her winter weight and be back in shape climbing hills and flying over fences. She is 8 or 9 now and we can tell she is starting to slow down some. She still has the desire to work though!


I also took Kate on a short leash, not needing any overzealous puppy shenanigans. She did a great job with supervision. By load #4, I had it figured out that just having her in the corner of the barn tied to a post, it would make it easier to get the ewes on the trailer. We think she is getting interested in the sheep and hopefully this summer she'll start being somewhat helpful. We still have at least 10 more loads to go so Kate will be getting practice being a sheepdog.


We still have many loads of sheep to move but at least the process has begun! It's hard to start but easy to keep going once we have the momentum.

Jon Katz has a nice piece on living on a farm and America's fascination with them. Read it here and here as it is a Part One and Part Two post.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Auntie Shan said...

YAY! You're back! :-D The Trip was Good I hope?

Ya know, too bad that we have that 350 miles and silly "BORDER" thingy IN the way, otherwise, I'd seriously consider "Renting" ONE of The GIRLS for a day to Fertilize and rid our front lawn of the Dandelions!! -- Although, we'd probably have to sacrifice those cute purple wild violets... :-[

hawknitr13 said...

i LOVE your posts!! the pics help us 'city-slickers' understand the sheep business! i feel like i'm right there beside you!! thank you so much for taking YOUR time to give us this most informative narrative of your life!!
^)^ linda in IOWA

Adaliza said...

Wonderful to see the Spring grass coming through. I remember my farmer separating the ewes and their lambs - it was very noisy on the farm for a couple of days! Happy memories.

Caffeine Girl said...

You give us such a wonderful link with the "real world" -- the one where all our food and yarn come from. This was a fascinating post,

shabby girl said...

What a Life, Girl!!! I'll bet if half of your readers were in your area, you'd have more than enough help! Fascinating!