This week, we are taking 6 sheep in for processing. This is what we do, it's not huge news. However, there are a few tough goodbyes in this batch.
First, we decided to let go of Millenium Falcon. She was born in 2017, with the Star Wars crew. She has yet to get pregnant, and ewes younger than her have gone on to have one, if not two successful pregnancies in this time frame. Not sure if something is wrong there, or if she's just good at evading the boys. But she will be sent along to be processed. We had high hopes for her, she was one of a set of triplets, from one of our super stars, Sharon. She is granddaughter to Shirley, and our flock has a lot of Shirley genetics still in it. Her brothers were Chewie and Han Solo, who had interesting coloring, and we hoped she would bring some of that along.
Millenium Falcon with brother Han Solo sleeping on her back
We also have a couple of bottle babies, they are getting up in age, as far as lambs go, so it's time. Eucalyptus is our blind lamb. He is a wool breed, came from off farm and has done well, despite his lack of sight. He is getting close to a year, and instead of pushing my luck and having this little dude get hurt due to his inability to see (we sometimes find him trapped in weird corners where he isn't smart enough to back himself out), it's time for him to meet his destiny.
Eucalyptus with friends Redwood and Sequoia
His buddy Sycamore is going to go, too. Another real sweetheart, because he was a bottle lamb, he had a long standing issue with scours. Because of this, we could never find a good time to band him. I didn't want to introduce fecal matter into the banding sight, so this wooly little dude is fully intact. He is also a wool breed and I really don't want him impregnating my girls. We don't run a wool flock and we just don't need to deal with shearing.
Sycamore, all covered with hay!
Euca and Sycamore are such sweet little dudes. I will really miss them. We also picked up a 4H lamb from a neighbor, he is sweet as pie as well, but twice the size of my lambs! Neutered and a wool breed, unless someone wanted a lawn ornament, he is going off to his final destiny as well. Toss in our big black ram lamb, Walnut, and now we are at 5.
I have reservations for 6 sheep. The 6th, I decided, would be Marcia. She is almost as old as Shirley when we had Shirley made into sausage. That sounds so cavalier, but it wasn't an easy decision. She did become sausage, because, to me, turning her into something productive was way better than letting her die of injury or illness, and then rot in a hole in the ground. It took a very long time, and a lot of tears to come to that decision.
One of our last days with Shirley
Marcia is the last of our original sheep - the flock we purchased in our first year. She hasn't had lambs in a little over a year, and does not at all appear pregnant right now. I think it's time for her to go. I came home from work the other day and found her turtled on her back. Turtling is when a sheep somehow ends up on their back, they can't right themselves. When you have a sheep under anesthesia for a surgery, you have to stay with them until they wake, because they often get disoriented and end up on their backs and they can't stand. I don't know how Marcia got knocked over - over zealous ram lamb, that's my only thought. I don't think she just fell over and couldn't get up. (I could get her a medical alert button, but without thumbs, I think this would be a struggle.) I don't know how long she was that way, but she clearly struggled to get to her feet once I righted her. She's been fine since, but it all adds up. It's time for us to say goodbye.
Marcia in 2010
She's the last of my mixed wool breeds, the only sheep left we have to shear. She came from a farm with 4 "sisters", we named them Carol, Alice, Jan, Marcia and Cindy. She is the only one still with us from the Brady Girls. With her age comes a calmness I enjoy in my flock. Not easily startled, doesn't fear the dogs, just does her thing with intent and purpose. She doesn't give us a hard time.
She is just over 11 years old (assuming she was only a year when we bought her, we don't actually know). She has given us 14 lambs, sometimes singles, sometimes twins. She has never lost a lamb, or abandoned one at birth. Her first lambs were Sparks and Trouble, born in 2009. Trouble was a keeper and she was such a sweetheart to me, but was culled from the flock when she would repeatedly ram Shannon and send her flying across the pen. Marcia gave us Curly Sue, Comet and Cupid, Boris and Natasha, Tyr and Skadi (who we still have), Helios and Selene, Princess Luna, Qui-gon Jinn, and her last lamb was Anakin, born in December, 2017.
Marcia grazing the orchard this past spring
This will put the oldest ewe in my flock as Sharon, who is just over 7. Sharon is from Shirley, and will now become the Grand Dame of the flock, and she doesn't even know it! With Marcia's departure, we will still have her genetics in the flock with Skadi and with Trouble's Hattie. Skadi is a strong mom, and a very independent ewe. Hattie was a bottle baby and is actually a very good mother, and one of our few sheep who accepts head scritches. Hattie is ready to give birth any day now. I hate saying goodbyes, but it's part of what we do on the farm. We are looking forward to welcoming some new lambs, and hoping for some ewes we can keep with us for some time.