Every year as January draws to a close, and February begins, I start to count sheep. Lambing time is always near, and I have to keep track of my girls. So out comes the cold weather outfit, and I make several trips to the barn a day, accompanied by my faithful companions.
I've had these particular sheep for three years now, and I'm just beginning to learn their habits. According to my records, Honey and Lacey always lamb early and in close succession. This year, they lambed on the same day. Honey gave birth to twin rams in early morning, and by sunset the same day, Lacey had given me another ram, and the first ewe of the year.
Hair sheep are much easier to care for than wool sheep. Years ago, once we got the new mothers put into a stall, we would have to give both mother and lambs a series of shots, and additives. Now it is simply a matter of electrolytes and molasses in the water and probios for the babies.
In the lower shed, we have built two lambing pens, and believe it or not, the girls usually put themselves up in a stall before giving birth. They spend 24 hours there, and then I move them into the "nursery," which is a big open pen in the back of the barn. Sheep are flock animals, and they need to be together, so putting everyone in a common pen works wonderfully.
No sooner had we moved everyone, than Ellie Mae picked out her stall and gave us another ram. Now all we have left is Bea and Evie, and the season will be over. But the fun will be just beginning. There is nothing quite like a barn full of new lambs! They bounce like little rubber balls, race about, and generally bring smiles and laughter to everyone. And that's the main reason I love being a shepherdess.
Photos by Leah