Wednesday, November 6, 2013

time to rest

Daylight savings has hit me right between the eyes this year. The only one more affected has been the dog, who starts begging for his supper before Terzo even gets off the school bus. I am patting myself on the back tonight that it is 8:30 pm and I am still awake, though barely.

It has been a week of sea change on the farm, as I made our annual trip to the butcher yesterday. It is hard to explain the mixed emotions to anyone who doesn't do this. On one hand, I am really proud of the healthy meat we put on the trailer to nourish friends, family, and strangers alike. It takes a lot of hard work and care to shepherd—literally—them through their lives. On the other hand, it is never easy to make life or death decisions about any living creature. The paradox of working so hard to keep them alive for a final end is not lost on anyone who is in this line of work.

Our entire farm feels like it is exhaling, however, a sigh of relief that the pressure put on our land by the rapidly growing animals has been eased. We went from 23 to 13 sheep in our flock in the space of a few hours. Feeding and haying and watering 23 animals, split into four different groups for breeding and non-breeding purposes, is more juggling than we usually engage in, except at lambing time (another time of high stress). I know this number is laughable to many who have flocks numbering in the hundreds or thousands, but we discovered early on that around a dozen sheep is a workable number for us and for our land.

The two rams lambs left behind are slightly confused, and a bit ticked off that they have been forced into coats. Monmouth (hiding in the back) seems especially embarrased by the yellow patch. They don't realize the honor that a jacket bestows: it indicates permanent resident status around here. These two rams are the first ones that we are overwintering, hopefully to be offered for sale next year as yearling rams. The one in the front, Mercer (sorry for the poor photo cropping) is the same ram lamb to the left in the blog header. He has developed into a big beautiful boy that shows a lot of promise. He will be getting a trial run in the breeding department with Robin's Coopworth ewes, next week. I would love to get a ewe lamb out of that match.

He is already showing quite a bit of interest in the idea. Marigold and Molly, the two ewe lambs we are keeping and half-sisters to these boys, are in a nearby pasture. We had let them out into the alleyway between the two fences to get at a bit of fresh grass. Mercer and Monmouth had quite a bit to say to Molly, the little flirt. I ended up locking the girls back into their pasture so I can sleep tonight. I have enough to worry about around here with teenage boys.

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