Friday, February 28, 2020
Late February Lambing Update
We've got one day left in February - and it is a gift of an extra day. Do you have any plans to celebrate Leap Day?
Lambs are still being born down at the barns. We are up to 98 lambs and still expecting more. Lambing has been slower than in past years but that has made it easier on The Farmer. I'm happy to say he is able to do all his chores by himself and is feeling much better than the past couple years. This winter, He has a young woman named Hannah helping him a few days a week. She purchased her own sheep last fall and has never gone through a lambing season yet. She is getting lots of practical knowledge. She has a veggie CSA in the summer and her Mom has an on-farm bakery. You can check out her lovely website Every Day Farm here.
As you can see from today's photos, the lambs are all different sizes. There are new borns and lambs that are over 8 weeks old. It is amazing how fast they grow. Generally, a single lamb will grow much faster than a twin because its mama's milk is only feeding one baby. Male lambs generally grow faster than females. Because harvesting lambs is a size thing, generally the male lambs are ready for processing much quicker than the females. We harvest the lambs at around 100 lbs. The first of this winter's lambs should be ready in June.
Generally, we do not keep any of the male lambs because of problems with in-breeding. We do keep a large percentage of the females as replacement ewe stock. Of course this depends on how many ewes we want to run in our flock. When The Farmer was under the weather two summers ago with bad hips, surgery and recovery, I had to cut down the number of ewes because I couldn't handle it all myself. I'm not sure what his target number of sheep is at them moment - I'm afraid to ask! At last count last fall at shearing, there were 165 adults. It's a lot of mouths to feed. I can't imagine the farmers in Australia who have 20,000 sheep.
We've had some crazy weather - swings from 1 degree up to 60 degrees and back down. Mud season has come and gone a few times. When it comes back each time, I hold my breath that I will get up the hill. Living on a dirt road has its challenges. You can't imagine how muddy and mucky it is at our barns when the ice melts and it turns into a quagmire. Muck boots are definitely needed.
This is the manure pile that the lambs like to climb up and down from. In a few weeks, they will be using it as a launching point as they fly off it during the nightly lamb races. I hope to get a video of that, if I am lucky. I haven't been able to catch those events the last few years. All that manure came out of the barn in December and after this year is over, there will be the same amount. Once it breaks down and composts, The Farmer will spread it on his hay fields.
We have two barns for the sheep - our original greenhouse barn and a wooden pole barn across the farm lane. The Farmer would love another greenhouse barn because it is so much more pleasant to work in and nice and warm for the sheep and lambs. That isn't in the budget though so he makes do. When a ewe has twin lambs on the pole barn side, he moves them into the greenhouse. The photo above is of the ewes in the pole barn.
We are starting to think about the upcoming Farmers Market season. I attended a meeting for the Amherst Farmers Market last week. It was nice to see all my fellow vendors. I'm not looking forward to getting up a 4:45 on Saturdays but I am looking forward to seeing my customers! I've been designing new tea towels for the upcoming season. I have to get to my pottery making too. So much to do!
I hope you have a nice Leap Weekend!
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