Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles

Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles! Our farm mission is to enjoy and promote the wonderful diversity of the Shetland breed by fully utilizing to the best of our ability all they have to offer historically. We believe the best preservation and management of this breed includes it's full spectrum of history. We encourage old and new shepherds alike to join in the fun by engaging in fiber arts, especially spinning and knitting, as this breed is so intimately linked with those aspects of the arts.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Heat Stress

Quick Post...our temperatures have soared lately.  We had air temperatures above 100 degrees yesterday, with a dew point of 78.  That combination makes for very dangerous conditions for livestock.  We are very thankful to have created a pasture for the rams with dense shade.  They are hanging out there, with the shade trees possibly saving their lives.  The ewes are rotated around on pasture, but despite having good grass for them, they cannot be out grazing without risking their lives.   They are passing this time of heat in the shade of the barn, with a huge livestock fan blowing on them.   The lambs lay as close to the breeze as the fence allows them to, and the ewes take turns standing in the strongest flow of air, nose to the fan.  I've given them electrolytes in their water, but they don't really want that.  Good thing I provided plain water next to it, just in case they didn't want to drink the orange water!  We are checking on that water every hour, keeping it cold, clean, and fresh.  It's shocking how fast that water goes down in this heat!

Yesterday afternoon, as the heat really intensified, we needed to hose a couple of livestock down with cold water.  One thing about a little bit of wool growth is it holds the water to the skin nicely!  Most definitely a lifesaver yesterday!  One ewe is nursing twins, so I think the heat got her pretty good.  The cold water seemed to really help and she clearly felt better afterwards.  We'll be keeping a very close eye on her ability to produce milk and to make sure her lambs continue to thrive as they have so far.  So far, so good, but I'm not leaving the farm much!!!

I must admit that something drives me nuts.  Do you ever notice the weather forecasts and how the language is worded??  The script is always along these lines "for your recreational needs" or "for your outdoor fun" or "for your work week".  If you listen with an open, and more realistic mind to all the scripts of the weather people, you will notice that farmers and livestock keepers are completely absent from the weather scripts.  There is no promotion of awareness of how hard people work to love and care for their stock.  Weather like this is critical to livestock.  They die of heat stress just like people do.  Most stock on small farms are kept by people who love having them, and enjoy caring for them, even if most ARE animals for human food.  Many people take pride in their attentive care.  The very least the weather people could do is add us to their scripts occasionally, especially when such dangerous weather such as this hits.  Why do they ignore us?  It's such an intentional absence that has gone on for years and years.  Have YOU noticed this?

Did you know that most people live within two miles of livestock?  Livestock is all around us.  They provide us with many things most of us wouldn't want to live without.  So why are they so ignored by the mass media?????

Next up, pictures of life on our farm lately, and what it looks like!

Please, please stay cool everyone, and if you know someone who has livestock, do something nice for them today!

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