Well, Happy Groundhog Day. Today, Punxsutawney Phil gave his prediction that winter will last another six weeks. I am not sure if I really depend on Punxsutawney Phil to give an accurate time of Spring’s arrival. I do know I always wait for his prediction. Perhaps it is hope that he will predict that winter is over, I am not sure.
Regardless if winter will last another six weeks or not, today was cold, extremely icy and slippery to walk. The past two days have been snow, followed by freezing rain and more freezing rain. Today, I really needed a set of ice cleats to get the chores done as I was walking on solid ice the whole time. Afternoon temperatures were a little bit warmer allowing the ice to melt, only to be frozen solid again before morning.
I also had a lamb born today. This is the mother ewe’s second lambing. Even though it is raining ice, cold, the little lamb was dry and nursing within two minutes of hitting the ground. The ewe was busy licking and the lamb was up and nursing. I am so glad I picked replacement ewes from really good mothers. A ewe wanting to be a good mother is a big help to the shepherd. I have been fortunate to have ewes and replacement ewes not reject their lambs.
Making a good choice in selecting ewes helps the sheep farmer. I watched my ewes on their mothering traits. If a ewe was not the best at being a mother, I did not keep her ewe lambs as replacements and eventually sold the ewe. It is my job to take care of the ewe. I need to make sure the ewe has shelter, good feed and nutrients to grow and raise the lambs, and water. The job of caring for the lamb is the ewe’s job.
I am a little more lenient with the first time lambing ewes. I will let them take a week to learn how to be a good mother. Some young ewes take a little while to learn how to keep track of their lambs, especially if they have twins. If a young ewe will not let a lamb nurse, I will check for mastitis. If no mastitis, then the ewe is on the watch list.
When they are put on the watch list, I will check to see how they do with the second lambing. Most of my ewes will be good mothers the second time around. The first lambing was all learning. Some ewes learn faster than others. But if a ewe on the watch list does not do good the second time, the ewe goes to the sale barn.
I do not sell ewes that are not real good mothers to individuals. I want individuals to return to me to purchase breeding stock. I sell at a sheep auction, which everyone understands is a buyer beware situation. The breeding age sheep there for auction is there for a reason. There are some breeding rams there as people are changing rams, and some young rams people could not sell to individuals, and need to get off the feed bill.
On rare occasions, I do have breeding ewes for sale to individuals. Last spring I sold a starter flock to a person I knew. This person waited over a year for me to be able to put together a good starter flock for them. I am asked often if I have ewes for sale. My flock is small, and I am still trying to grow in numbers. Most of my ewe lambs I keep in order to build my flock. But I also need sales to keep money flowing into the sheep farm. So, there are times I have a few for sale that I wished I was able to retain.
Didn’t realize Groundhog’s Day was so early in the year.