Monday, October 17, 2011

Always a Daughter, Also a Friend

People seem to think that livestock animals are without feelings to one and other.  By observing my own flock I clearly see this is untrue, not only do farm animals often form friendships with their own kind, they do tend to remember their offspring.  This contradicts what people are sometimes told, as I was often told as a child that farm animals do not remember their offspring after it is weaned, and particularly after they give birth the following year.

I do notice that even years later the sheep that were related tend to hang around each other more than with their non-relatives.  Mother's and daughters seem more close than sibling pairs. 

Dark Brown Barbado is a sheep we bought at auction, one we have had for a few years.  Early in 2009 she had twin lambs, Girlie being one of them.  Girlie is part wool sheep, she gets a woolly coat that sheds erratically and looks funny unless cut off. 

When the lambs were young I had told my daughter she could pick one to keep.  Her most favorite lambs happened to be rams, so she had to make another choice, and selected Dark Brown Barbado's lamb which she since named Girlie.  To make Girlie friendlier my daughter took her into a stall and gave her lambs starter pellet treats from her hand every day.   It was not long before Girlie learned to go to my daughter for regular treats. 

Girlie has had 2 sets of lambs herself, and has always remained friends with her mother.  This fall I took the picture of the two ewes standing in the pasture and thought they were posed quite nice, so wanted to share the photo here.

Girlie is in the back, with her mom, Dark Brown Barbado in the front. They are both starting to get their warmer winter coats.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Bright New Ram for Fall

After lambing in January and early February I had decided that this year I would plan smarter for lambs in later February or March.   As it happened there was a livestock Auction in the middle of September.  That ended up being a bit of a disaster.  We were planning on selling some chickens and ducks at the auction anyhow so got an early morning start, only to arrive at the Auction market and find out the auction was postponed until the following week. 

So once again we loaded our birds for the sale and looked forward to finding a ram for our small flock of ewes.  The problem was that not a single sheep was brought to that particular auction.  There were plenty of goats, pigs, and alpacas, but not one sheep.

We went home and looked on line at our favorite website for buying and selling livestock, but there were no rams for sale within a reasonable distance.   Panic was setting in.

Finally we found a guy, whom we had bought a ram from in the past, and as luck would have it he did have a ram for sale. 

Most people have larger farms and can keep a few rams, but with only 10 acres and no way of keeping them apart we do not keep a ram all year or we would risk him breeding ewes too soon and having lambs when we least want them!  As such we buy a ram in the fall, and sell him in the spring.

The ram we bought this year is a lovely black and white Dorper x Katahdin.  Not a purebred, but that is alright as our flock is mostly mixed ewes anyhow.  Our biggest concern was finding a ram, and we really wanted a hair sheep.

Our new ram was brought to us in the evening and it was already dark, by next day I went out to take pictures of him and watched as he tried to join the flock.  Crystal. the llama, was not about to hurt him, but I found this one picture perfect as the girls seemed to take shelter behind her.

Our new ram might just end up being called Oreo, for lack of any more original name, he is quite nice, and not as nervous around people as our last ram.  He is still young so will be big and handsome by spring when his lambs arrive.