Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Out Like A Lot of Lambs

April finally, and warming up. Potholes on the roads, puddles on the laneways, sap in the maple bush, and lambs in the barn.

Which is to say I was out at my cousins' today for shearing day. Meat sheep they may be, but some of the fleeces are lovely, crimpy, soft things (and how they got it in a Rideau/Dorset/Finn melange of a flock, I don't know), and they are planning to send some of the best to a mini-mill this year. My job was to help them identify and sort out the best of the fleeces. Mom came along as well, but she spent half of the day enjoying the cousins' baby and taking her for a sleigh ride.

Each batch of sheep got shooed into the corridor and vaccinated, then into the chute one at a time to await the shearer.

Last year's shearer was not terribly fast, and they ended up with an 18-hour day to shear the lot. There were more sheep this year, but it only took the new shearer maybe 6 hours total for the 110-140 head in the barn - a huge improvement for everyone concerned, including the sheep, who were eager to have a bite to eat. It seems shearers prefer the sheep to be fasting 12 hours ahead, so they're lighter and not farting while you work. Completely understandable - but yeah, after shearing, the sheep all wanted to hang around in the corridor where there was a hay bale they could snack on.

Lambing was planned in stages this year, so one batch had lambed a while ago, and the babies are still nursing, but strong and fuzzy. The pen beside them had the ewes who were clearly pregnant, but not due yet.

Of course, there are always surprises as well. Under all the wool, it's hard to tell who's expecting if it wasn't a planned pregnancy. It seems one of the ram lambs from last year got left in with the girls a little too long, and this morning there was a new baby lamb in with the ewes who were supposedly not expecting! He was snuggled with his mama under a heat lamp, and wearing a cute little sweater. So cute you can't help but say Awww!


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