More Monday. It’s been a busy time with the flock these days.
We bolused the eligible ewes and put them in with Shaft, who completed the mission nearly instantly with Badgerface but who has been struggling to figure out the logistics with the other six breeding ewes. I think he’ll be done by this weekend, but we’ll keep them all in another week at least. This blog has been the best way to track breeding dates, so there we are.
Grey did have a living lamb, also black moorit, walking around and hanging out as lambs do. Best guess is that this lamb is also about 8-9lbs. Grey is being a little nervy, so I am going out now every half hour to monitor. The perils of pasture lambing.
EDITED 5pm: The survivor is a little 9lb ewe. We call her Ripley. She is nursing great and mom’s chilled out and is relaxed and grazing.
If our two smaller ewes Goldie and Badgerface have singles rather than later conception dates, we could see lambs this weekend, and it looks like our two big heavy ewes Grey and Black N Tan are due up mid-month. One of the joys of having a sheep breed with a bit shorter gestation than the books/extension sites mention is that lambing always happens sooner than you were quite expecting. Icelandics lamb in a typical range of 140-144 days, with 137 being term and 154 being late-term.
I was operating on the assumption that the two small ewes missed two 17 day cycles and would thus lamb close to the end of April or early May, but it is increasingly looking like they didn’t miss that many cycles and did get covered before mid-December. So we’ll be starting the lambing watch this weekend, but low-key, with the big push after April 15. So hopefully we’re done at the end of April.
The pregnant ewes are finally all together with their daughter lambs, and all the rams are together, which will make management easier. The breeding pen was not really set up for hay feeding, but now we have two groups with access to the hay feeders, so that will go easier.
It’s been a really mild winter, grass is already coming up. We should have fairly rich pasture this year with the extra time. Still had to order more hay though, and we also have to fix a barn leak so we can safely use the remaining hay. That’ll be fun.
We’ll try to get some hoof trims and worm checks in this month, while the ewes are not too heavily pregnant and then just focus on minerals and adequate hay until lambing season.
Husband and I: Coming off a very sick holiday season, but doing better and may be up and about this weekend.
Sheep: Pregnant ewes are pregnant, looking ok, we just have to find a Saturday to move them back in with the ewe lambs, hopefully it can be this one. Scottie is bold as brass, which will make sending him to freezer camp easier, but that’s probably still a couple weeks away. All the sheep are miserable about the rain. We have to order a ton or so more hay and a bunch more straw this week.
Kids: It’s a rainy enough winter that even they don’t want to be outside constantly. But they do want to run around and finding places for them to do that has been a bit of a challenge.
That’s all for now, next week should be more normal and busy.
With the help of some relatives, one of the ram lambs, Bart, was finally slaughtered, skinned and broken down over the holiday weekend. It didn’t take very long and we now have some Icelandic lamb in the freezer. We should have Scottie and Dingus taken care of in the next week or so.
As for breeding, all the adult ewes are finally in with Shaft and hopefully everyone gets pregnant. Due to the ewes’ cycling not being synchronized, they’ll be in there until January, or when they show conclusive signs of pregnancy, whichever comes first. So we are going to have May lambs, which means April spring shearing.
Bart was a light yield, about 15lbs of finished cuts including the organs we kept. That is a hanging weight somewhere past 20lbs, but not much past. He weighed more before the weather got colder, but he was in fact weaker than Scottie and Dingus and lost some weight the last month. Dingus has inherited excellent parasite resistance, as he was stunted but has a well formed, meaty frame. He is smaller physically than Bart’s rangier, lankier frame, but will give more meat. So that’s good.
My husband feels pretty good about his ability to slaughter sheep going forward. Bart was stunned unconscious and then had his throat slit. It all went very quickly. The cold weather has helped a lot.
Now that Thanksgiving festivities are over (we celebrated with friends and family and it went pretty well and was delicious), I have to get back to the fiber prep. Speaking of weight gain, we have a baby that went from 16 to 17lbs over the course of Thanksgiving week. And still waiting to hit three months old. I guess he’s taking lessons from the lambs.