A couple of weeks ago, we sent six lambs to the abattoir. They had reached market weight and we had customers eager for lamb. We also sent two older ewes to the abattoir. This is a first for us. The mature ewes we processed had been with us for a while, but one of them repeatedly abandoned her lambs at birth and the other always refused to nurse her lambs. Robert does a great job coaxing the ewes to be good moms. However, if that doesn’t work for two seasons, they have to go.
We are not heartless – we had attachments to these ewes and it hurt to make this tough decision. I avoided the barn for a week because I knew I would miss Bo so much. Farming is full of these tough decisions. We have two bottle lambs – a lot of extra work – but first we had a discussion about whether the lambs were viable. We’ve never culled a lamb – and I hope we never have to – but it is part of responsible farming.
If we had unlimited money and pasture, those ewes may have become pricey pets. Not an option on a working farm that has marginal income. We gave them the best life possible. We cared for their lambs when they wouldn’t. We tried. It still hurts. Farming hasn’t blunted our feelings – but it carries a lot of responsibility and this was the right decision for our farm. Throughout life, tough decisions are necessary. When you make one of those decisions, don’t beat yourself up. It is part of mature, responsible living. I know there is a time – and season – for everything.
Our bottle lambs are thriving. I am thankful for the opportunity to live surrounded by the natural world, and am honoured to have a role in caring for our flock. We will spend Thanksgiving with our family – and in gratitude. May your Thanksgiving be full of joy.