Monday, February 15, 2016

Deep Freeze + Farm Friends and Helpers

Boy oh boy - it has been cold. Twenty below yesterday. Sixteen below this morning. Very cold temperatures aren't good for arriving lambs nor the farmers. Wintry mix tonight and 50 degrees tomorrow. What a swing in temperatures. We shall see what Mother Nature throws at us next. Thank goodness the cold is leaving for now. 

This year, The Farmer has had two helpers at the barn that are not his wife! Alyssa works at a veggie farm in the growing season and last year she helped out with lambing. This year she is too. She has been such an awesome help and frees me up to work on my own stuff. Mark and she have a good working relationship and being that it is her second year here during lambing, she knows what needs to be done. Here she is shooing away the sheep and lambs from a bale hay feeder before Mark drops the bale in. 

Alyssa also helps spray paint the stripes on the lambs.

This is the spray paint we use. It is scourable but truth be told, it wears off quite quickly. At least it stays on for the important time when the lambs are young. This year we didn't number the sheep. I'm not quite sure why. The top stripe identifies the weeks the lamb was born in. The side stripe identifies if the lamb is a twin or a single. 

Here Alyssa is banding the tails of a lamb. You hold the lamb between your legs and use the tool to put the band on the tail. The tail will fall off in about 2 weeks. Removing the tails helps with cleanliness and saves the sheep from fly strike in the summer. Fly strike is one of the more disgusting things in sheep farming. 

Alyssa has such a nice calm way about her.


She has become a good friend of ours and we are so thankful for her help. Here are Mark and Alyssa up on the lambing hill.  

Rachel began helping a couple weeks ago. She just graduated from college in December and wants to be a sheep farmer. Working on our farm during lambing is giving her first-hand experience and helping her find out if she really likes working with sheep and lambs. The verdict is still out whether she is liking it but I know she is learning a lot. 

Rachel helping to bring in a set of twins to a pen. The mama will follow her babies.
This set of three photos is Rachel's first time learning how to insert a stomach tube into a weak lamb. We use these tubes and supplement young lambs that aren't getting enough food from their mama or very weak lambs who cannot suck from a bottle yet. These tools have been around for over a decade and really help to save lambs that otherwise might not make it. 

Rachel helps with all the same chores that Alyssa does and they come on different days. Here she is feeding one of the orphan lambs. 

I remember when I got out of college. People told me to find a job in a field that I wanted to work in and learn before starting my own thing. I think that is very good advice to give a kid just learning the ropes. I know it worked for me. We are hoping that we are helping both Alyssa and Rachel learn the sheep biz while also helping us out. 

I think they are really lucky to be learning so much from Mark. He has over 30 years of experience raising sheep and lambing and is a wealth of information. He genuinely likes sharing his knowledge too. It also helps me to be able to work on what I should be doing during the week. 

Thank you Alyssa and Rachel. Youthful enthusiasm is a good thing!

Great news - I've had 2 coat offers for The Farmer. I LOVE the internet! Julia thought it was awful that I would ask but I know how coats sometimes sit in closets not being used because people's lives change. So thank you kind readers! 


Auntie Shan said...

It's still WARMER on your end than HERE! - I just looked at the forecast and I'll be getting a load of snow tomorrow! Just the day that I NEED to be out doing stuff! [why do they always put holidays at the worst times?!] - [Family Day here]

I'll glad THE FARMER has some outside "help". Actually, I'm surprised that there aren't more farming students available to get some hands-on experience and perhaps "field"-credits..?

BTW, tell Julia to think of the Coat-"Project" as Global-"Recycling" or Clothing-"Crowd"-Sourcing!


Frances said...

Kristin, this post really does tell the true story of the arrival of lambs in early 2016 in very cold New England.

I send bravos to all involved, and hope that those new lambs will make it through these freezing days and nights. This afternoon, it snowed again in NYC, but the temp began climbing back up towards breaking the freezing point. The weekend was record breaking cold.

Now we'll face gushing rain tomorrow. I guess we are looking forward to ... would it be Wednesday or Thursday?


Sally said...

Hi Kristin!
Thanks for this post! I love that you and the farmer are giving these opportunities to young folks who are exploring their dreams. My daughter has been doing similar "internships" interspersed with nannying, etc. to make sure of what she is getting into. It's so important.
And once again, Julia's perspective made me laugh! My kids have had similar reactions to my sensible actions. As they would say, "WHATEVER!" lol!

Notthatkindoffarmer said...

Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post.
Thanks for sharing! I am delighted to read this article.!!

Monica said...

Stay warm. Glad to hear you've had two coat offers!

Erica said...

Guys, you look like great warm team! The photos are so touching with your kind faces on them. Painting lambs sounds like great fun :)

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