Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lambing Season

I'm emerging slowly from the fog that was brought on by our biggest on-farm event of the year (Annual Shearing Day) last Saturday and Michigan's Presidential primary election three days later (my day job has to do with elections). I will blog soon about Shearing Day, but here's something to tide you over until I am more fog-free.

The Farmer has been busy for about a month with lambing. We like to have about 30 ewes deliver before our Shearing Day, for the cuteness factor. The clipboard in the foreground of this photo helps us remember who needs to be where in the jugs, seen along the wall in the background. (Side note: I don't know why the bonding pens are called jugs.) After a ewe gives birth, she and her lamb(s) are placed in a jug for a day or three. The length of time varies based on how many lambs she's had, and whether or not someone else needs the jug. 


Most of the ewes take their jobs very seriously, as evidenced by this ewe's cautious stare and the sign we chose to put up above the lambing jugs on shearing day.


Once the lambs are a couple of days old, they are very curious. This space in the jug wall is called a headgate. In the open position, it allows the ewe to reach out and eat the hay we've placed just outside the jug for her. Placing the hay outside keeps it from becoming bedding and part of the bathroom facilities. In the closed position, the headgate restrains the ewe gently and temporarily, so that we can work on her baby, or care for her, or help with a difficult delivery. 


Curious lambs have been known to hop through the open headgate and go on walkabout. This results in frantic baa-ing from the ewe, who can't follow and is calling her lamb to come back. Part of The Farmer's job is to return those lambs who are on the lam (sorry, couldn't resist), and the clipboard in the first photo helps him keep things straight.

2 comments:

  1. Do you shear the pregnant ewes before they deliver, or everyone at once on Shearing Day?

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  2. Most everyone IS a pregnant ewe here, unless they've already delivered, or they're a newborn lamb. So the point is to shear them a month or so before delivery. I feel another blog post coming on...

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