Sunday, January 4, 2015

farewell to all that

Two ewe lambs left the farm yesterday, on their way to a new Coopworth flock in Maryland. Hopefully they are bred and one will deliver a ram lamb pursuant to their new owner's wishes, though these things are usually not made to order! In addition to the two rams that went to West Virginia a couple of weeks ago, this means that we are down to nine sheep on the farm, a regular skeleton crew for us, and two of them are rams that I am still hoping to sell in the near future.

Nina and Natasha, crazy-eyed ewes, on their way to their new flock.
I love the look on Natasha's face.
It is a great representation of how I feel most of the time.

This marks another big change around here, one that I have been reluctant to talk about or think too hard about, but that felt so right when we made the decision that I know it is the correct path, for now. We will not be breeding for the next couple of years, until we can get ourselves sorted (already channeling British-isms in anticipation of the start of Season 5 of Downton Abbey tonight). The level of stress and complication introduced by me not being present on a regular basis on the farm was not fair to us or to the sheep, so we decided to take a break and catch our breath.

Hence the rams leaving. They were gorgeous, solid boys from Mountain Vewe farm in Vermont and Hatchtown Farm in Maine, some of the nicest animals we have ever had on the farm, both in personality and appearance. It was not fair to keep them here when we would not be using them, and their genes are too good to waste. My friend Debbie in West Virginia bought both to add some new lines to her flock. I hope they do well for her.

I have been feeling a little blue about the thought of no more lambs (though we may still have a few this spring due to the great escape in October—time will tell). But then I happened to find the Fall 2014 issue of Black Sheep Newsletter as I was cleaning off my desk this afternoon. One of the articles was about Letty Klein, one of the most respected shepherdesses in the country, who has a very well-regarded flock of Karakuls. She has been a shepherd for over 32 years, and I was heartened to read that "at its peak Letty's flock reached 75 animals, but at one stage it was down to three."

Well, we are not down to three. This may be just a temporary pause. I don't see me ever getting up to 75, but her current 16 sounds pretty appealing. Just not right now.


  1. It definitely decreases the stress level when lambing (mostly!) is not in the picture. I hope your winter goes smoothly!

  2. Hi Kris,
    I know this awful feeling. Due to health issues and changes in schooling needs/family dynamics, I found I couldn't really care for my dear cows the way I wanted. It was too stressful to keep them around, but still very stressful letting them go. I still have a hard time walking around in the pasture without any animals there except our laying hens. It's sad, but it has really freed up some time in my day to attend to other matters. My husband assures me that we can have cows again someday if that's what I want. I don't really know the answer to that. I know I can't successfully manage them all on my own and don't enjoy trying! I guess that's enough for now.

    May God fill you with peace and courage as you make these changes.

  3. Don't worry. If you miss watching lambs frolicking about, you can always come visit mine. I should have about 35 of the little buggers bouncing around by April.