Out in the Barn ... Again


Sam WisemanI am a shepherdess of a small hair sheep flock.

This is a job that I take very seriously. Our flock is made up of a permanent set of ewes that may be added to as a good specimen is born on the farm, and varying aged lambs, including males being raised for market sales. Some of our ewes have been on site for the entire 11 years that we have been raising sheep. In the beginning, we had sheep only for pasture control but eventually it grew into something else.

July Flock

As our flock, which I call “My Girls,” frequently includes males, we can lamb as early as January sometimes, and generally it is stretched out over a couple of month period. If it’s not too busy I try and schedule it a little better. During this time, I keep careful watch over my flock. Many shepherds will disagree with me on frequent checks and bringing my girls in at night when they are close. Which I do, especially if it is cold.

When I first started I read that losses of up to 5 percent were to be expected every season. I was determined to break this statistic on my own farm. Call me silly but it only took once, carrying a cold slimy lamb from the field to the barn in the dark while holding it in front of a mom to smell it so she would follow, for me to absorb the idea of it being easier on everyone for the girls to be in the barn when it was time to lamb. This seems to me to be especially important with wool sheep that do not have near the resistance to the cold or stress levels that hair sheep have.

Now I am not saying that I keep my flock in the barn the entire time that they are getting close, but I do keep an eye on them, and there are some signs to watch for to get them in a sheltered spot when they are ready. 

3/19/2015 7:39:14 AM

Sam, Welcome to the GRIT blogging community. Dad never had sheep on the farm until I was long gone to find my fame and fortune in the vast world of opportunity. I'm not sure he even bred them but just had a few to keep the weeds down in he pasture. Farm life for me has been reduced to gardening vacant lots in urban areas. I am a self proclaimed urban farmer. I'm into year six of retirement and love to grow things in the garden. It seems to satisfy the farming ancestral DNA in me. ***** I hope to read more about your journey in homesteading. ***** Have a great day on the homestead.

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