It won't be many more days before the sheep and goats will be separated for breeding. November is the start of breeding season at The Fat Ewe Farm. With a five month gestation period, the babies will start to arrive in April, when the weather is warming slightly. The last babies should be born by June. The first ram or buck will stay with his selected females for six weeks, when a second male will take his place, just in case he missed with some one. This is something I ususally need a little help with, just basically openeing and closing gates as I maneuver the critters from space to space.
But first, they need to be penned in a tiny area and have pedicures and be checked for parasites. They can pick up worms from the pasture, both tapes and stomach worms, and critters like lice, and mites, which love the warm dense moist skin next to the animals, especially in winter. The sheep will each get a close inspection, scrutinizing the skin under the wool, looking a their eyelids for colour and trimming their hooves. Eyes that are light pink to whitish demonstrate a very anemic sheep with a heavy wormload who must be treated immediately. A medium pink is one to watch and a dark pink to red is an animal that is managing its parasites on its own. Ideally, this would like be a primitive sheep with excellent parasite resistance. The best ones should be bred and the others moved to farms where routine wormings are practiced without evaluation, since they are the most susceptible. The dogs will have to be wormed for tapeworms and stomach worms as well. There is one worm that is a sheep tapeworm, though it lives one part of its life in the dog. Isn't nature amazing? As livestock guardian dogs and border collies are synonymous with sheep, the tapeworm adapted to use the dog for one part of its life cycle, and only the dog. If there is no dog present, the tapeworm ceases to exist. Most flocks have livestock guardian dogs and border collies, go figure.
There are still a few barns to clean and shelters to either tarp over or build in the next three weeks before the snow comes. I feel the pinch, but also feel that it will be done in time. Then I can enjoy the solitude of the long nights and sew and make things, read and play music and this winter, as well, I plan to continue refinishing furniture. That I can now do in my little house in the basement. Travis left a shop vacuum for me so clean up will be easier.
The sheep are still enjoying their daily trek out to the pasture, but it won't be long before those last days of fall bring the white covering of winter and all is quiet once more. Ah! Won't you join me for a cup of tea by the wood stove this winter?