Managing the unexpected

In a perfect world, ewes are introduced to the ram based on when you want to have lambs born. Ideally, your new lambs are born around the time your pasture is starting to grow vigorously. This ensures lots of feed for your growing flock, keeping your hay costs down.

In the real world, gates don’t get closed, fences are knocked down, and things go awry. Sometime this spring, there was an impromptu meeting in the vineyard. The result? Seven new lambs running around the barn in August – when the pasture is at its worst. There are still six lambs from the last round waiting for processing and the ewes – who hadn’t been prepared for pregnancy – mostly had single lambs rather than twins. Not good news for anyone.

One ewe had twins, but rejected them. One died, the other is surviving because of Robert’s intervention. Two of the ewes are reluctant to nurse, so Robert has been milking one of the ewes and bottle-feeding two lambs. Lots of time and effort, and these ewes are not pleasant to deal with. Sigh.

We’re loading the ewes up with high-quality feed and keeping a close eye on all these adorable newcomers. You just have to make the best of it; no matter how inconvenient this is, the flock’s quality of life can’t suffer.

The barnyard is busy – and loud – and it is a bit of a mob scene when they see you approaching with treats. Weekends are spent hauling hay. Late nights checking the sheep. Farming is like that. Dealing with loss and surprises and too much work. But last night, we sat on the deck at dusk. The view of the strait and mountains was beautiful, we could smell the salt on the ocean breeze, the bats were flitting through the trees and the dog was asleep at our feet. Bliss. It all balances out.