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A taste of Winter reflection

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I wrote this in my blog today





It’s December and I can’t believe how quickly winter has arrived. We woke up to a hard frost that graced the pasture like a silver blanket. The sheep’s breathe hung in the air as I tossed the alfalfa to them and only then it dissipated. The two Arabians trotted up, tail high in the air and snorts of pleasure cleared the way in front of them. They pranced about as I filled their grain buckets and soon, heavy signs came from their hairy throats. The sheep dug into their alfalfa and as I drove off to work, I felt like I had left a winter wonderland.



Work went quickly for me today and for that, I was glad.


I raced home from a busy day at work to do the nightly feeding. I tossed the leaves of alfalfa in each feeder and stood by the lower pasture feeder watching the Clun Forest sheep eat. The rams had been put in with the ewes in mid October, Zed, Bruce, Prince and Dutch, each with their respective flock.



Zed is a square white Katahdin ram that I had gotten to improve my Katahdins flock. Bruce is a gentle Dorper ram that went with my single Dorper ewe and a couple of Katahdins. Price, a hefty Clun Forest ram, is the son of Callie, who is my senior ewe and best bred. She is also my pet and quite spoiled. She loves to be hand fed and before I bought her, was a bottle baby and treasured. She is bred to Dutch and I hope she has ewe lambs as the all the years prior, she has thrown rams. With my luck, she will have rams. Dutch is the AI Clun Forest ram that I got from the Midwest a few years ago. This will be his last year, as a good percentage of the flock will be related to him. Each ram has his own quirks and personalities.


Jazzmine, another older Clun Forest ewe, who loves to parade her lambs near me, stuck her nose through the fence, hoping to get a treat. I gave her a piece of bread and her eyes scanned my hands to see if there was another piece for her. I petted her on her nose and told her that one was her limit. Seeing her well filled out form, it was apparent she had not missed a meal. Quite a few of the ewes have not missed a meal, which is perfect for the breeding season. I flushed them out on grass and some pea pellets prior to being put with the rams.


I had scaled down my flock quite a bit, to about 35 ewes, 10 locker lambs and the rams. The locker lambs will be in the freezer in Jan or Feb and hopefully by then, Dutch will have found a new home. Of the 35 ewes, eight are this year’s lambs and won’t be bred. The Clun Forest ewes flock is 29 ewes and six are the Katahdins and Dorper. That should be about 27 ewes that should be bred. I used to have 45-50 breeding ewes so this amount should be a lot easier. I am not 100% able to do the farm work still as my sternum and right arm are not 100% healed yet and I really don’t know if they will ever be.


When I looked at my spreadsheet last year, it was difficult to figure out whom I would keep or sell. Over the years, I kept detailed records on each ewe as well as the ram. For the ewe, ease of birth, mothering capabilities, any relatives, amount of lambs born, how the lamb finished out, how well the lines do, etc. I finally sold the ewes that I had more than two full or half sisters in the flock. One set had seven full sisters. All that I sold were nice ewes and it was a hard decision but my health dictated it.


Rosalee, a full bodied ewe drew me out of my thought with a stamping of her foot, perhaps to let me know that I needed to give her a treat. I rubbed her nose and gave her some loose alfalfa that had fallen to the ground. Several of my older ewes, Callie, Honeysuckle and Lilly began to push hard into the fence, wanting their own hand fed alfalfa. I scooped the rest of the loose alfalfa near my feet and fed them. Soon they lost interest when the supply ran out and began to dig into the hay feeder.


It grew quiet in the barnyard and that was my signal to go into the house with Tess and Nan to have our dinner and get settled down for the night. The hard gravel crunched under my feet and the snappy, crisp air bit into my face as I walked up the hill to the house. As I entered the warm house and took off my shoes, I too, grew content and warm and settled in for the night.

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