The Fat Ewe Farm has 52 sheep that need to be shorn, 5 Angora goats and 1 llama. That is just short of 60 animals in total. I did buy expensive clippers and was going to give it a go to do two animals per day, but I cannot shear the sheep the way the shears do, which is lying on the ground. Due to my physical limitations, I need them to be standing. There is a special grooming stand one can purchase that supports the head so they basically do not move. I have also considered a huge blow dryer or blower, to first eliminate a lot of debris from the wool. I even got a dryer that no longer produces heat to tumble and blow the fleece so it has less vegetative matter to pick out. But I do not have that trimming stand or the blower, yet.
This is the last year with this many animals. I sold the Babydoll group last summer and plan to sell the Jacobs and Tunis this year and the Romanovs. My goal is to cut down over the next three years to a dozen sheep and 5 or 6 goats. That is enough for one old farmer to look after and it might be easier to find someone to care for the animals should I need or want to leave for a period of time.
At the end of this month, the rams will be pulled from the breeding groups and stuffed into a tiny corral where they cannot back up to ram each other. When they come fresh from breeding there is quite a danger of ram bashing and serious injury, so in order to prevent that, I stuff them tight for 2 days. Then they all smell like the next ram and the bashing is not so severe. The worst is Jim the Jacob and Gandalf, the Shetland. Those two are sworn enemies and have take down a heavy wooden gate this winter, the only separation between them. Then the Blue Faced Leicester cross ram lamb that was born here in February 2016, will get a chance to do any clean up breeding. He will stay in with the ewes for 6 weeks or so, in case the rams missed someone. I have seen little to no breeding going on and do not put a marking harness on any ram, but that does not mean it did not happen. It could have been accomplished in the first week even and the next two months were just visitations. Time will tell.
The first lambs could be born as early as April 25 and the last as late as June 25 from these breeding groups. Any lambs born after June 25 will be from the BFL breeding, and it will be quite easy to distinguish because the BFL lambs look very much like Blue Faced Leicester sheep, even the crosses. That ram is white, however; he does have the gene for colour and will be bred to ewes that are either coloured or have the gene for colour, so that will not be the determining factor. It will be the date the lambs are born.
Last year I was very fortunate to be able to sell young lambs for a hundred dollars as pets and lawn mowers. There were more cross bred lambs than expected because of the precious Shetlands who bred ewes when they were only 4 months old. There should only be 3 cross bred lambs this year and they will be 50% Jacob.
Who does not look forward to seeing baby lambs? They are the most adorable, fuzzy little gentle creatures and are delightful to watch. The ewes that are on the farm are selected for their mothering abilities as well as their hardiness and ability to manage their own pest loads. Hopefully their vigour will be passed on to the offspring as it should be. But, it is hard to say goodbye to the babies as they get old enough to be weaned. Still, I keep telling myself to stick to the goal of animal reduction. So far so good. Come and join me for lambing in April and May. It will be exciting.