Upkeeping Sheep

Sheep are very easy to keep most of the year. Probably the most labor-intensive time is in the spring during shearing and lambing. The second most labor-intensive time was today!

Many of the ewes needed their coats changed–as their wool grows they need to be switched into larger coats about 3x through the year. While the coat is off we take the opportunity to examine how the wool looks. Below is Felicia. We were anxious to see hers since she is a lamb and this is her first fleece.

It looks nice and crimpy with a bright white color. The tips are dirty because as a lamb we don’t cover them right away. The little curls on top are characteristic of a lamb fleece.

After changing the covers, I check the eye membranes for signs of parasite load. As a new flock management procedure we only deworm those who need it. Many flocks are becoming resistant to the deworming products from overuse. Several needed the dewormer. One ewe, Ellie, I will have to keep an eye on as she was quite anemic. I can’t use it once they become pregnant so now is the time.

Next we trim the hooves. I say we, it is the royal we, cause Dave does that. It is back breaking and hard on the hands. So I hold the sheep in place while he trims. Except when I’m shooting the picture and he gets to do both! 🙂

After all the girls were done, it is time to switch to the boys, but we ran out of time today since my store opens at noon. So they will get done in a few days. After that we will let the boys and girls mingle to make lambies for spring.

Finally, we corralled Frank and Fern to send them to market. I was unable to sell them as breeding stock so they will be auctioned off, most likely to a butcher or restaurant. We also sent off our one goat, Truffles. She is unfriendly, barren and a fence hopper–nothing good to recommend her. She will most likely be purchased by someone in the local Arab or Puerto Rican community as that is who eats goats.

So off Dave drove to the auction while I got ready to open my shop. I was surprisingly busy in the store today–odd for October– and now I’m seriously ready to get some shut-eye…but since this is NaBloWriMo, I made the effort to get this post up tonight.  I am 18 posts for 18 days!   ZZZzzzzzzzz…….

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11 Responses to Upkeeping Sheep

  1. Debbie says:

    Good Job!!!!

  2. Glory Lennon says:

    Good night’s sleep to you…need I say count some sheep? 😉

  3. Cylly says:

    Yay Julie! Over halfway there and still interesting topics. Whoohoo! Doing a Snoopy dance for you. Q: did you have too much lamb in the freezer? Did you have too many rams? Or do you always have some “extras” for auction?

    • Julie Helms says:

      Thanks for the Snoopy dance! Lol!
      Yes, the freezer is full enough. And two rams is about one too many already! There is no point for us to keep them for breeding since we have their dad and grandad. I would have loved for someone else to take them for their flock as the wool was amazing, but sheep are not a real hot commodity in this country.

  4. I do not like reading about butchers, restaurants and the like … Sigh. But, I know it’s part of farm life. I have been away from it so long I have grown soft lol. Strangely enough, I do not have a problem eating chicken.

    • Julie Helms says:

      I actually debated putting that sort of info on the blog. But it really is part of it all. The whole reason we raise sheep in the first place is for the freezer–wool was a secondary consideration.

  5. Lisa says:

    How does one, and who does it, clean the dirty tips off the fleece?

    • Julie Helms says:

      The person who purchases the fleece can wash it. It’s not a big deal, it’ll wash easily. What would be a big deal is trying to get out bits of hay–there is none of that in there.

  6. Laura says:

    Felicia’s fleece looks very good!

  7. That will be an excellent fleece with the crimpy nature, nice and thick–and even longer with curly tips! Shearing is hard work, but hoof trimming is murder on the back, I can identify with that! About the culling and off-to-the-food-chain- it is part of farm life, you take care of something–and it takes care of you eventually!

  8. In regards to some of the comments earlier, I am a softie myself, we keep sheep mainly to control the pasture, I never even liked the taste of lamb. After keeping pet chickens for eggs, I cannot eat them either. Darn near vegetarian now. We do breed our sheep and sell the lambs though, I always imagine them going as pets.
    Although I do say that the ethnic buyers are always keen for the ram lambs.

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