Friday, May 24, 2013

A Little Extra Care

Our daughter is working for us again this summer, home from college. Two summers ago we had a simply disastrous year with keeping sheep alive. Shepherds all over the state reported heavy death losses to parasites. So we know we weren't alone that summer.

But we also knew that heavy worm loads can be minimized with careful management. And there is just too much work on this farm for one employee. Even with all the familial minions. We needed someone whose passion was working with the sheep. Enter college daughter.

Last summer she did a fabulous job of managing the sheep's grazing and care. If you don't know anything about rotational grazing, I can boil it down for you. Set up a small temporary fence and let the sheep graze there for 1-2 days, until most of the grass has been eaten. Set up another temporary fence and let the sheep graze there for 1-2 days, until most of the grass has been eaten. Repeat, all summer long. In your spare time, maintain the electrical current on the entire 40-60 acres of fence, which involves many hours communing with a weed whacker. Any plants touching the fence can dilute or stop the current. A weak or non-functioning electric fence is like a middle school classroom with a brand new substitute teacher--a free pass to do whatever enters your mind.

Anyway, our daughter is back again, watching over the sheep. It takes careful observation to notice a lamb that is not thriving among 100 ewes and their lambs. They hide it well, until it's too late.

Perhaps this one lost her mother. Perhaps her mother didn't have enough milk. But whatever the reason, she wasn't doing well, and our daughter noticed in time.


After a couple of weeks of bottle feeding this ewe lamb in the barn, she was turned back out with the sheep. She comes running now, twice a day, when she is called. She knows that when she is called, she will be fed. She's doing very well, and we have our observant shepherdess to thank for that. 

3 comments:

  1. I bottle fed many calves. They were always so cute (and a bit aggressive when I didn't have the bottle). Good job college daughter!

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  2. That's great!!! And I'll bet you don't mind having her around, right ;))

    We are fighting coccidiosis - again ;( Have done all the "right" and recommended things, including changing some genetics...I'm starting to feel like life without sheep wouldn't be such a bad thing ;/ Especially when, like you, those middle schoolers find the weak spot in that electric net fence! UGH!!!!

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  3. Family "employees" are great especially when they are well trained and self-starters:) Good job Mom and Dad!
    And cute lamb.

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