Our First Lambing Season


Suzanne HeadshotThis time last year we had just purchased our first sheep. As many of you know from our previous blog updates, that first “starter flock” of mixed breed hair sheep turned into a disastrous experience. We did however learn a few good lessons from all that trouble. One area though that we did not gain any experience in was lambing. Our starter flock produced only a single birth for us last March, a ewe lamb we named Dolly. When our katahdin herd came here last summer the majority of our girls were young ewe lambs themselves. As you can imagine, we have been very excited and eager to see our first lamb season come from those girls.

Going in to this season we had seven registered katahdin ewes bred, six of them white and one of them solid red. Our ram, Red John, is white with a red spot on one hip. A few of our white girls have a bit of color on them as well. Red Spot, has red freckles on her face and legs. Black Spot has black freckles on her face. Lil’ Red, our solid red girl is quite unusual. She is solid red in the summer, but as her winter coat comes in she "frosts" on the top coat, solid white on top and red on bottom. So with this bit of color, we were hoping for some marked up lambs.

The day after we returned from our exciting weekend of alpaca shows and tornadoes in Shelbyville, TN, we had our first delivery. Whitey, one of our youngest solid white girls, gave birth to a huge white ewe lamb. We named her Alpha, as she is our first. Alpha was born with a red spot over her shoulder blades. 
Alpha First Lamb 2012

Alpha is now two weeks old and doing wonderfully. She is a rowdy little bugger, who enjoys chasing the pups and making her mother come to her. 

Two days after Alpha was born, Red Spot surprised us by delivering twin girls. This was her first birthing as well, and she was not very large so we assumed she had a single. Her twins are adorable! Both ewes, mostly white but with red spots all over them. One of these girls began following Andrew around the evening she was born. Now every time he goes in the pasture she is his little shadow. This behavior has earned her the nickname Tag Along, and her sister we call Little Sis. Here is Tag Along in the front, with Little Sis behind her.

Red Spot Twins 2012

3/23/2012 8:00:38 PM

Oh Dave, I hope I never get used to these animals dying! If there is anything that can be done to save one, we do try. It just hasn't worked out that way lately. We have not had any more excitement this week, thank Goodness! Everyone seems healthy and happy. The lambs are growing so fast! We had intended to keep 6-7 ewe lambs for our breeding program and sell all the ram lambs this season. As fate would have it, we have all ewe's and no rams so I doubt any of these will be sold. All of the sheep we have now are hair sheep, they completely shed their coat in the spring/summer and do not have to be shorn. Which is great if you don't like shearing, which I don't! But, the hair is not really useful for much beyond bird nests. :) You should see our fences now, all the wire is wrapped in hair where they are rubbing it off! These guys are raised for their quality meat carcass. There is actually a big push now from the USDA for sheep producers to increase their herd size due to a shortage of American lamb, apparhently lamb is growing in popularity faster than producers can meet the demand. Good for business! I to love gardening, it is a great stress relief for me. Regardless of whether we continue raising lifestock later in life, I hope to always have the health and the space to raise a garden. It's not just good for your health, but good for the soul too! Happy Gardening Dave!

3/21/2012 2:49:34 PM

Suzanne, farm life can be exciting and disappointing in the same day. I hope you never get calloused to the death that happens before it should. I keeps our own lives in check as to just how fragile life really is. I can't tell you how many losses we had from Moms laying on their babies. It's not just sheep but hogs and cows as well. It's really hard to know what to do when babies are being born. Nature can be cruel and unforgiving. On the bright side you have eight new healthy babies that will add to your growing flock. Next year the Moms will be more experienced at being a mother. What will you do with all the lambs being born? Do you keep any of the wool or do you sell it all? Sheep, in my humble opinion, are the most difficult of farm animals to raise. Well, really, all farm animals need daily attention. It was fun when I was young but I wouldn't want the daily responsibility in this season of life. I'll just stick to gardening and watching the wild life. Have the best lambing season you can.

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