SORTING SHEEP: WE SORTED LAMBS TODAY, SO BREEDING CAN COMMENCE TOMORROW - DECEMBER 1.
WE SORTED LAMBS TODAY, SO BREEDING CAN COMMENCE TOMORROW - DECEMBER 1.
Bo and I sorted out 40 ewe-lambs this afternoon, in the rain, to add to the breeding flock. Our breeding flock has been diminishing in size over the years, reflecting Midwesterners' favor for other meats. But demand is beginning to increase for our 100% grassfed product, so we are growing the flock to 100 ewes. These lambs are the best we have raised, reflecting good nutrition, due to a great growing season, and improved genetics, due to heavy culling over the years. The result is they are mature enough for breeding after 6 months. Typically we give ewe-lambs and heifer-calves an extra year to grow before breeding them, but don't feel it is necessary this year with these ewe-lambs.
We feed grain to our Berkshire hogs in the sheep-sorting-shed, but had to close them out of the enclosure while we were sorting lambs. As soon as it began to rain, they wanted to come back in, as you can see below. Rarely do we witness sheep and hogs in such proximity.
The "big boys" now go to work for 17 days - the ovulation period for ovines, to give us lambs born during the first half of May. We remove rams after 17 days, so we know lambs won't be born after the third week in May. We can then start moving the flock to fresh pastures, without worrying about newborns being left behind. What a life those rams enjoy. Don't we all wish we only had to work 17 days a year! Probably not, but it is an entertaining illusion.
Not only are we expanding the flock of sheep, but we are installing more fencing, to reduce labor involved with managing sheep. Erecting temporary fencing for them, so they don't become riddled with parasites, is quite a chore. Now that we have the equipment to mow beneath woven-wire fences, we will begin installing more of them, as investment permits.
We are trying to design our facilities so older folks can run the program, if younger folks don't materialize to assume leadership. Ideally, we want both older and younger working together, but a crew of older folks can execute almost any tasks, working in sequential three-hour shifts rather than a prolonged ten-hour one. Power to the aging!
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Susan traveled to Chicago with her children to savor the wonders of a Wagner opera. I traveled to Manhattan to visit my two children and spouses. (See, we do travel occasionally in the horizontal mode.) The picture below on the left is the view out my daughter's window, of rooftops in Harlem. The weather was beautiful during the visit, the architecture fabulous, food delicious, and people diverse. One couldn't help feeling the richness of the eco-system there - almost as stimulating as in Pike County. I also reveled in the newest born lamb to our flock, precious Lyra. What a deeply profound satisfaction it was to experience her sleeping upon my chest - a gift from the heavens and her parents.
We hope your Thanksgiving celebrations proved rewarding. We look forward to hearing from those who procured turkeys from us how they turned out.
Thanksgiving may be our most noble holiday in this country. Standing in gratitude is always wise precedent.
The next round of holidays looms large. If you have special orders you would like us to fill, please advise as soon as possible. We will have another round of smoked legs-of-lamb ready for Sunday Dec. 17.
Our Bolognese Sauce made its way recently to a pine table on the Chesapeake Bay, as depicted below. Note the fabulous goose decoy on the table. The Chesapeake is a world of water and fowl - the East coast's largest wetlands and estuary.
We will be serving chili this Sunday at the farmers market. It is a meal in itself, full of two grassfed meats, and organic beans, tomatoes, and hominy. It is great for lunches or dinners, and is even good cold, if you have been working sheep all afternoon and are extra hungry.
I had intended to write about something totally different, but since sorting sheep became the order of this wet afternoon, its story insisted on prevailing.
We thank you for sorting with us through the wonders of this journey,
Drausin & Susan