September 08, 2010
Temperatures have finally cooled down, fall is in the air. For me, that means time to separate my sheep into two groups, the boys and the girls. I am a shepherd. I have a small flock of Blue-faced Leicesters, a breed of sheep with a lovely soft fleece. Hand spinners very much enjoy working with this fleece. There are many breeds of sheep as well as many colors and qualities of fleece. This breed of sheep is also well known for a pleasant disposition--even the rams are easy to handle. Also, I have border collies to help me with the sheep.
Before I put my friend's ram in with my ewes, I will worm the girls and trim their hooves. The ram will go in with the ewes the first part of Ocober, and they will stay together for the month. Then, I will care for them so that their lambs develop in good health all during their pregnancies. Gestation for sheep is five months. The ewes will begin to give birth in early March. I will feed them high quality alfalfa hay and a fortified grain mix during their last 5 weeks of pregnancy for healthy fetal development, as well as good milk development for the ewes. The ewes should be in top health for birth, milk development, and for healthy, vigorous lambs with nice fleeces.
About a month before lambing time, I will vaccinate all my sheep. This way the immunities are passed to the lambs. At this time, I will also call in the gentleman that shears sheep. He will gently shear all the sheep in the flock. The purpose for this is so the moms-to-be will come in the barn to give birth! Since, they will no longer have a heavy fleece to keep them warm during February and March. During the last weeks of pregnancy, I will be busy cleaning the raw fleeces before I send them off for processing.
I will update this blog weekly, so join me for my journey toward this year's lambing--the highlight of my life with sheep and border collies.