Monday, February 03, 2014

141 Last Night

As of yesterday, we were up to 141 lambs. They have been dropping like crazy. (Dropping is a term we use when a ewe gives birth - we also call it lambing.) The weather warmed up a bit (UGH - MUD) and now it is on the way back down with a snowstorm predicted for tomorrow into Wednesday. We shall see what happens. 


When a lamb is born, we try to identify the mother to make sure we know who goes with which babies. The Farmer has been at the barn from early morning, all day, home for dinner and then back at the barn until late. He is hanging in there. The other day 22 lambs were born in one day. I was at the Farmer's Market all day so the lambs didn't get marked. By Sunday, there were more lambs! We identified and marked as many as we could but there are still some without numbers painted on their sides. 

We've had 2 sets of triplets this year - odd for our flock but perhaps some of the Polypay cross bred genetics is kicking in. Polypays are crosses of Finn x Rambouillet x Dorset x Targhee. You can read about how the breed was developed here. We've been using a Polypay ram for three years. We also used a Dorset, Cheviot, and a homebred crossed ram this year on the flock of 215 ewes. There were 4 flocks of sheep during breeding season in different locations with one ram with each group.

This year we have a college intern working with us a couple days a week. Liz is a great help and she loves the animals. She isn't squeamish which is an important trait to have when spending time here during lambing season. I was able to take some photos of her marking the sheep the other day. I help with a lot of the marking so having a hand free for the camera doesn't really work. 


This is the paint we use. It is spray paint and it wears off. It also washes out of the wool. The metal thing on the left is the "tail-bander". Very thick, small elastic bands get loaded onto the prongs. We squeeze the handles and slip it onto the lamb's tail. In a couple weeks, the tail will fall off. We do this so that the sheep, as it grows and lives here at the farm, won't get fly strike. It isn't like sheep use toilet paper, you know and sometimes those butts are pretty poopy. Flies can lay eggs and maggots grow and it is totally gross and disgusting. The sheep can be dead in a day. I know - TMI. It is better to take the tails off them when they are young.

We have several pens set up inside the barn made by bending wire hog panels. We don't have enough space for all the sheep to have their own pen so the sheep in the pens are those that are weak, the mothers are marginal, or they are triplets. If a ewe isn't bonding right with their baby, she and the babies will go in a pen. We have heat lamps too and are using a heating pad to warm up the lambs that aren't strong and may be hypothermic. 

It's all a lot to think about, isn't it? Doing our best, not that it is perfect but that is farming. Nothing is perfect, never enough money, go with what nature throws you.

Here's Liz spray painting this new set of twins. 

After they are marked and tailed, they are right back up on their feet. Lastly, the mamas get the same number. 

What about the colors? Green means twins, blue means single. We don't have a color for triplets - not worth buying a different color paint. The triplets are numbers 66 and 68 (I'm documenting this here so I can remember!) The stripe down the back tells us in what 2 week period the lamb was born. Some of the ewes are nice and calm and don't mind being painted. Some of them want to pummel us, will jump the hog panel, and break the lamps. It's a two person job. The Farmer is very good at catching sheep so he will hold the skitzy ewes while we paint the number.

Here's Liz with her set of twins. Doesn't she look like she is having fun?

That's it for today. Hope you enjoyed your sheep raising lesson of the day. I'll leave you with another cute lamb photo. 

Have a great week everyone.


robin silver said...

wow what a tremendous amount of work that is! the lambs of course are adorable said...

What are the sheep primarily raised for? I don't remember if I've read that before. Do you keep them all?

Anonymous said...

so wish you shipped your lamb....

so interesting to learn, never consider it to be TMI


Donna OShaughnessy said...

Happy I found your blog! We do pigs and cows but not sheep so lots for me to learn here. Can't wait to come back.

Jayne said...

After hearing about some of the horror going on in the land down under its reassuring to hear about and see lovely humane treatment of beautiful beasties, thank you for sharing! From someone who suffers terribly from farm envy there can never be too much info😊
Thank you!

momma said...

LOVE all the lambing stories - so great to hear of REAL farm activity! THANKS.

linda bowton said...

I'm a small town girl, familiar with the midwest farm country, but this is totally fascinating!!! And great pictures! You have a class-act! I enjoy every post! I'm a knitter too! Love your projects!

Lizy Tish said...

Wow - that's a lot of work. Thanks for sharing all of this - so interesting. Love your pictures.

adaliza said...

Keep going - are you halfway there yet? My farmer used to lose a stone in weight every year during farming. Maybe I should start farming! Lovely post - thanks for sharing. Good luck Liz - have fun!

cockney blonde said...

Really enjoying reading about the lambing. Goodness you really do have your work cut out. Congrats on the triplets x 2.

Anonymous said...

I am in the middle of kidding season. No where near the numbers you have, but it keeps me hopping. I use the colored livestock markers until I can get the kids banded. Each doe and her kids get a different color.

Good luck!