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.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Getting Ready...

The Shepherdess likes a clean house...

This may be a busy farmhouse, but this shepherdess likes some things to be clean!  We are in the midst of getting ready for lambing.  The earliest to lamb should be around April 11th, so we have time yet, but two ewes are on pregnancy watch.  We lamb later than most, especially this year, although we've learned some other much larger flocks are due to lamb about the same time as us this time around.  Getting ready for lambing means cleaning out the 'Flock Box'.  That's my sheepy medicine cabinet, stocked with supplies I'll need for lambs and new moms.  Dates have been checked, syringes replenished, drenches ready to go, and little dixie cups stacked for all those little navel dunks.  I have my dose amounts clearly written and taped to the inside of the box lid, for easy reading in the dark, when I'm cold and a bit bleary-eyed.

The ewes have all had their CD/T shots and have been dewormed.  Everyone is wearing new their hooves trimmed, except Rainbow, 'cause she's HUGE.  Yes, HUGE!  I don't  think I'll ask her to attempt a three-legged balance just now.  Udders have been checked, too. As predictable, the older ewes have large udders coming in, while the first timers have very little started.  

Out in the barn, the ewe pen was enlarged for easier labor of ewes, and new panels were made for lambing jugs.  Clean straw is down in the jugs, although those pesty hens had a ball in my nice clean straw for lambing and there's very little left!  I'm gonna need to search for more straw bales...ha! a drought year!  Barn lights were checked, and this year, I put up a homemade chalk board listing the earliest dates ewes will lamb, who they are, who the ram was, and with space underneath for filling in any lambs each ewe might have.  This part is for me! :)  It helps me stay organized, and it looks cute in the barn.

In the house, I've checked and stocked inside supplies that I've made lists of in years past.  Late at night, I hunt down these lists, and review what I need to check.  Let's see...LOTS of laundry soap, LOTS of liquid hand soap, LOTS of coffee, and snacky-energy types of foods that can be grabbed on the run.  And let's not forget a clean barn coat, and lots of wool socks ready and waiting for the excitement and long, cold nights in the barn!  I've got my NEW flashlight (can you tell I'm excited about that?!), with it's NEW battery on the table by the door, just waiting for those late night checks.  I'll clean everything in the house just before the dates arrive that 'open' the ewes' lambing windows, so I won't have to clean again until things settle down...well, except the floors of course!  Every day, the floors need cleaning on this busy farm!

Unfortunately, I'm already getting worried about bears! giggle, giggle This IS the time they start rambling around, searching for something to satisfy that winter long hunger streak!  Maybe next year, I'll lamb in Jan. or Feb., JUST so I don't have to worry about the bears! lol

With most things checked off the lists, I can relax a little and read up to review all the 'what ifs'.  I call that my  nightmare book...the one that exposes all the things that can go wrong with cute little lambs and new moms.  My hope is that I'll be better at observing and diagnosing things if something goes wrong.  Every year, just before the lambs arrive, I get scared and worried.  I guess it's natural and normal, for I hear a lot of other shepherds say it, too.  You know going in that you'll come through the season tired and needing a rest, but it is very rewarding work overall.  Seeing little lambs leaping around the pastures, playing around their moms, and ganging up for mischief makes it all worthwhile!  It's a wonderful life!

So with the barn, Flock Box, and house all ready, it's time to hurry up and WAIT!  Sigh...that's the hardest part!

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