Remember this post? This is the post where I shared some of my ewe data, the info that helps me determine which ewe is going to leave the flock. I do like to eliminate, intentionally, at least one ewe per year. First, it provides yummy breakfast sausage for us and our customers. It gives a meaningful purpose for the end of their life, a final way to make sure they are honored for all that they have given us. It also ensures a quick and painless death, no suffering. We have had ewes suffer, and it's just not OK.
In the past, the decision has sort of made itself. It was either a poor performer, an attitude problem, or very clear signs that it was time, even when it was so very hard to say goodbye. We said goodbye to our Shirley, the original ewe of our entire flock. There will be no goodbyes as hard as that. At this point, most of the trouble makers and bad attitudes have been removed from the flock. The ones that are left are wonderful sheep. It's making this decision harder and harder every year.
Peppermint Patty is one of Shirley's daughters. Shirley had a set of twin rams her first year on the farm, triplets the year after - 2 ewes and a ram, and the third year, she had twin girls. Peppermint Patty and Marcie were born January 11, 2010. She got her name from the streak of white that runs through her middle, and we were naming all the lambs after cartoon characters that year. We usually only keep one, not both twins, so Patty was the one we kept. She has been a great performer over the years, and we have kept 3 of her daughters. Clarice was a poor performer (just didn't want to get pregnant) and Pumpkin Cake died unexpectedly last year. We still have her Mara, who will likely be a first time mama this summer.
Patty is one of our best ewes. Calm, good mother, usually gives twins and grows out nice big babies. Last year, she ended up with mastitis in one udder, and we could not clean it out. That udder no longer produces milk. She had a single ram lamb this year, and is struggling to feed him. He is bottle supplemented, and she still dotes on him. But with one failed udder, she certainly won't be able to care for any future twins. If it weren't for her mastitis, she would certainly get to stay.
She has given us 13 lambs. She is just over 8 years old, which is not super old. Shirley made it to 11.5 years, when she told us she was done with lambs. So Patty is not beyond her lambing years, but she doesn't have many left ahead of her. Losing her will make space for another young ewe to give it a go on our little farm.
We have an appointment at the end of this month to take her in. She will be accompanied by a rather large ram lamb who is getting a bit too big for his britches. I'll miss her big dread locks. I'll miss her calm demeanor, and that way she sometimes looks at me with disapproval when hay or brewers grains do not appear magically in my hands when she wants it. She was a big stout girl, a great and doting mother, and a flock leader who usually did what was expected of her. Quiet, caring and somewhat serious. She was a good girl. I am glad I could give her 8 wonderful years on our farm. She'll get to stay in a little corner of my heart and mind, right there next to her mom, Shirley.