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Lambing has started!!!

Ella has delivered twins for the third year in a row! Did she do it the night it was 50F? Of course not. She waited for the temp to hover near freezing. But also she is an excellent mother, so she got them both dry, warm, and fed post-haste. LOOK AT THIS LITTLE GIRL. Isn’t […]
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Probably the last two lambs

Of course, every time I say that, someone else has another lamb. But the last ewe left is the one in the place holder image… This little ewe lamb was born to the one ewe I legitimately wanted to have a ram lamb. Last year was the year of rams, this year it was nearly […]
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Baby Round Up!

A little lamb with a white star on her forehead looks alertly at the camera while sniffing a person's finger in a search for cheerios.I’ve gotten behind on lambs, mostly because I’m worried about one and didn’t want to post about her all excited and have her drop dead. But she keeps not dying, and I owe y’all pictures! PLUS NOW THERE IS BABY COW. This is the little ewe I’m worried about. She’s not getting very big very […]
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Welp, I have house goats

A little lamb with a white star on her forehead looks alertly at the camera while sniffing a person's finger in a search for cheerios.I didn’t want house goats. But I didn’t want dead baby goats either, and it was starting to look like those two desires were in conflict. Yeah so these two were actually born yesterday. I have dithered over whether to show them to you because their survival is dicey. This morning I brought them inside […]
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The February Doldrums Have Been Shattered

A little lamb with a white star on her forehead looks alertly at the camera while sniffing a person's finger in a search for cheerios.February is, mostly the most boring time of the farming year. It’s a time of waiting for other things to happen. Everything that can be done is done and it feels like lambs will never arrive and spring will never roll back around again and …. And then Ella proves me wrong by deciding to […]
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Farmer Fail and The Circle of Life

The two table lambs go off to slaughter today. It’s the first time I’ve ever taken any of my animals off the property to have them converted into food. I’m naturally nervous and a little stressed by it and feel like it’s a farmer fail, but after raising them for 9 months I just couldn’t […]
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Goddamned pigs, y’all.

A very small spotted boar with tiny tusks looks at the camera.
Y’all. For two years now we’ve had Piggy Bank, a mild-mannered and well-behaved little boar who is known for his love of tummy rubs and business-like trot where food is involved. Even when Maggie was breaking out of the fence he stayed peacefully in confinement, doing his pig thing.

And then sometime night before last or in the early morning hours of yesterday, he broke out of the fence and traveled a quarter mile down the road to a house where another mini-pig boar lives. We found out because the same animal control lady who dealt with Maggie texted us and let us know. But by the time we got down there, he’d melted into the woods. Great.

Then that afternoon the people who lived there came up to the house because he came back, broke into their pig’s pen, and kicked his ass. We went down there to try to recapture our little asshole and he went zooming off into the woods again, leading us on nearly a mile long chase before we lost him. Right. Great.

This morning the neighbor stopped by, Piggy Bank came back only this time he broke the other pig out and tried to lure him off to a life of freedom in the surrounding woods. Which I guess is better than trying to kill him but JESUS CHRIST REALLY?? The other pig happily went back to captivity but Piggy Bank melted away into the surrounding forest, oinking balefully. He appears to have decided to go completely feral in the space of 36 hours and now wants accomplices.

I mean what the fuck. TWO YEARS with not a single indication he was longing for freedom and now he’s all “I AM WILD BOAR”. The next step is probably you start putting food in a crate down at the neighbor’s house to see if we can trap him and drag him back home squealing and kicking. But really, goddamned pigs.

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The year in review

It feels weird to be doing my year in review now. When you’re a shepherd of tiny Neolithic British sheep you start to really understand why British Celts started their new year around the first of November – late October and early November are when the sheep start breeding the new lamb crop, you see. […]
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I’ve been putting off writing this post

Not long after lambing season kicked off, our regular hay guy ran out of hay. No big deal, I thought, we’d just use another supplier to get us through the couple of months until his first cutting was ready. I found someone else who could deliver round bales and thought my hay problems were solved.

And then sheep started dying. I looked for parasites, I looked for subclinical illness, I wracked my brain and laid awake at night going over every detail and came up with nothing. Sheep kept dying. I dreaded doing the chores because I didn’t want to find another one down.

Finally in desperation I sent hay samples out for testing. It was the only thing that has changed. And changed it had. Results came back showing levels of copper much, much too high for sheep. The lab said the overall profile of heavy metals etc was common for hay fields that had been treated with biosolids – aka dried sewage. The hay from those fields is fine for cows but lethal for sheep. I hadn’t even thought to ask when buying the hay, and as a result of my mistake I lost two Soay ewes and their lambs plus my little Rambouillet wether.

I’m still grieving my sheep. I hate that when I make mistakes, it’s my animals who pay, sometimes with their lives. The only recourse in this matter I might have is small claims court but that’s a roll of the dice and I don’t have the time or energy to pursue it. I did leave the guy a message telling him not to sell hay to shepherds anymore.

The happy ending is that my regular hay guy had a fabulous first cut after a wet spring, and with healthy hay, summer grazing, a protein tub, and slightly increased grain rations the rest of the sheep are recovering beautifully. The goats thrived, their mineral needs are more similar to cattle than sheep and they require amounts of copper that will kill their ovine cousins (I normally provide it via rumen bolus).