Just kidding, although I am. (Go Green, Go White)
I was looking at my sheep spreadsheet, which is one of my favorite spreadsheets to look at. And I realized that our last little lamby that was born, Peter Gabriel, became the 300th lamb born on the farm!
300 lambs! My life has been blessed by meeting, getting to know and loving 300 lambs born on my farm! Aw! We love lambs!
Welcome to the farm, Peter Gabriel!
He's the cute little mostly white lamb, very standard looking dorper. His mom is Skadi, who is a lamb I kept from Marcia, one of the ewes we bought in 2008. Marcia was part Suffolk and Dorper. Skadi's dad was Jason Stathram, who was a full blooded Dorper. Therefore, Skadi is mostly Dorper, and she sheds well, even with a bit of Suffolk in her heritage. Peter Gabriel's dad is presumed to be Buck Norris, who was actually full blooded Katahdin. Interesting that Peter looks so much like a straight Dorper!
We are in a bit of a lull as we work towards our standard big wave of lambs born in the winter. A few of our moms, including Skadi, are over achievers and sometimes lamb out of cycle with the rest, because they may give birth 3 times over 2 years. So she won't have lambs this winter, and will likely see her next set sometime next spring.
We are looking forward to our winter lambing season. With all our hay in - the big bales for outside feeding, and the small bales I use in the "nursery stall" for the littles, as well as days when the weather is so crappy, I don't expect any of the sheep to go outside. We are ready for winter! We need to get the small stalls cleaned out, so we have room for fresh bedding and to make sure that barn stays toasty and warm this winter. With the inside camera in the barn, I can check on the lambies from the comfort of my very own bed, and choose to go visit if needed.
You can see that January is a popular month for lambing, and you can see the ramp up in November. So we know this is coming. In 2019, our big wave actually came late, in March. The ewes often get pregnant again 2 months after lambing, with a 5 month gestation, which could put our winter wave starting as early as October, but I am hoping more for November. Either way, we already have a batch of lambs ready for October processing, so freezers can be full for folks before winter, then another batch that will be ready in Spring time, for the spring holiday season. So we'll keep your freezers stocked!
Our moms are great at taking care of their babies, and typically do not have issues with lambing. And it's great to be able to check on them from the camera, without having to interfere. I can still see nursing activity from afar and know my babies and my mamas are just fine. Although the barn stays pretty toasty all winter, with a wall of hay inside insulating the west wall of barn, where all the wind hits, plus the stall areas that help keep their body warmth close by, we have not had an issue with lambs getting cold.
For my random summer babies, unless they are showing bonding or nursing issues we let them out with mama the day they are born. It can be a struggle, as going to pasture involves a lot more walking! Some of the moms stay very close to the barn, eating hay, or finding grass close by, so babies don't have to walk so much.
In winter, they are locked off pasture, and the hay is kept close to the barn. That being said, we still keep mama and babies in the barn for their first 3 days of life, so they are ensured to stay warm, really build that bond with mama. After that third day (unless it is sleeting, and then everyone has to stay inside) lamby only has a short walk to the hay feeder with mama. And all the mamas are standing around the hay feeder, not walking all around the pasture, so lamby has easy access to milk all day long, and when their tummy is full, they can usually find a warm, dry pile of hay to nap on. It seems like lambing in the winter would be rough. If we didn't have our barn, it sure would be.
This is a nice shot of our sheep outside the barn. Those doors are the small stalls, then there is a large center area (that was really built for horse grooming!) We add this in for the winter, so the sheep have plenty of space to stretch out, and we can block off one small stall for the new mamas and their babies. (This stalls are closed this morning in the picture, as we use them to house our meat chickens the night before processing so we have close access, usually, the sheep have access to these stalls all day long, year round)