Thursday, September 17, 2015
As planned the day started off with separating sheep. I really dislike separating the flock for market day. I always get a little tinge of guilt when I pass judgement on one of the poor lambs. I don't talk about it much we all know the fate of those who went to market. I have adjusted to this over the years by making sure I only allow certain ones I know will be kept to get too personal and act like pets.
Occasionally this backfires on me of course.
Like with Sandwich or Boris. Actually Boris was Mrs. PP's screw up she was the one who went and started petting him and feeding him treats with out checking the ear tag to know if he was a ram or a ewe first.
Sometimes we get an old ewe who goes into retirement and has been around long enough that we just keep her in the invalid flock.
The good thing about sheep is even the retired or the otherwise unsalable ones do prove somewhat useful at times. For instance in another month or so when we put the breeding ewes in with the rams the invalid flock helps the young ewes and slaughter lambs adjust to life without mom nearby. Usually by that time most of the lambs are independent but there is always a few hold outs. Sometimes we even find homes for the select few pet whethers or retired ewes believe it or not. Really though a couple of useless eaters are not that bad in the total scheme of things. So what I need 25 more bales a year I got the room to grow it.
Market day though is terrible for the lambs who didn't make the cut. At least the slaughter lambs get a few more months of carefree living yet. The market lambs get separated, shoved into a metal box that rolls down the road, then ran up a ramp into a pen with all kinds of other animals all around them. Poked by strangers with sticks and ultimately sold in a huge lot alone and separated from every thing they have even known mixed in with 100's or more strange sheep somewhere. All the while crying for mom and looking at me like they have just been betrayed by a beloved grandparent or something.
We had 15 earmarked for market today. We only took 14 because at the last minute my mother couldn't bring herself to load up the last bottle baby we couldn't find a home for. Honestly she is so small I doubt we will even notice the extra food expense anyway and maybe she will fill out enough to breed eventually. Bottle lambs sometimes take an extra year to grow enough for breeding.
At least I didn't sell them to Muslims who tie their legs together and throw them in the trunk on their way to slaughter in some back yard. Believe me I get calls from men with strange accents asking to do that very thing. Ever so often I actually let a lamb go through private sale for breeding or even as pets but when someone calls I tell them flat out I will not let an animal leave the place unless they are in a proper cage or trailer.
So our flock is much reduced in numbers this afternoon. We are now down to 38 total head. We kept 7 breeding ewes and 5 slaughter lambs that will be leaving us in January. We managed to sell 2 bottle baby whethers as pets earlier this year and 1 breeding ewe in a private sale but we have lost our original ram and 3 breeding ewes this year as well. Two ewes died while one is now officially retired. It will take us a year at least to replace the breeding losses and get back to a steady growth once again.
On the bright side the bee growth was absolutely booming this year. More on that later.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!