The rains have come. The temperatures have dropped and it is time to get ready for new little wooly creatures. We tagged (or cruched) all of the ewes a week ago, getting there back ends and bellies cleaned up and ready for delivery. I administered C&D as well as a preventative dose of Noromycin. The pens are clean and ready. The doctoring cabinet is stocked with iodine, baby aspirin, scissors, retainers, puller, and boot socks. I have emergency colostrum in the freezer and a small bag of milk replacer, nipples and bottles on hand.
The first two ewes in the flock should lamb this week, and then the rest of the herd will follow the next week. We’ll see how good the numbers are. Last year we were one week behind schedule. We’ll be keeping an eye on the ewes’ feet, as they seem to get more sore as they gain weight and get closer to lambing. We had two limpers this weekend, but there were no visible signs of rot or scald.
The same could not be said of my yearling ewes whose feet I trimmed on Friday. Several of them were over grown and had signs of foot rot. Our wet weather makes foot rot a prevalent problem in our herd. It didn’t help that we had a ram with a severe foot issue. He’s been culled. I trimmed the young ewes feet back into shape, opened up pockets of rot to the air and dosed them with iodine. We’ll see if these ewes are going to have chronic foot problems. If so, they will be culled before they are bred next summer.
We chose not to breed our yearlings this year. We make that decision yearly. Mostly the decision is based on the size of the lambs at breeding time. These ewes were small, so they’ll get an extra year of growth before having their own lambs. We could have bred them for spring lambs, but I don’t like to drag my lambing season out that long. I want to be able to lamb for a month and be done.
The next question I’ve been contemplating is bummers – as in whether or not I will subject myself to that sort of chaos. To some extent that decision may be taken out of my hands (i.e. if one of my own sheep can’t care for her baby.) What I’m debating is whether I will actively search out bummers for a little flock here at the house. As Hubby says, “You can’t just have one and if you have two you might as well have ten.” My own caveat to that is that six is about the most I want to have at any one time.
I have welded wire panels for a pen and plywood for a little shelter should we end up with some orphan lambs. We always keep supplies on hand for such an event. So I might just as well resign myself to it, embrace it and start building a pen.