Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good News and Bad News

The good news is, it's been lovely, clear, sunny days lately. The bad news is, without any cloud cover, it's still getting sub-zero at my house every night.

Why is that bad news, you ask? Well, I'll tell you: I'm getting near lambing (the first ewe could go as early as 5 days from now, though it'll more likely be 10 or more) and there's still a foot of snow on the ground. The good news with that is that the pen isn't a foot deep in mud. The bad news is that it's a bit chilly for newborn lambs, and in the non-packed part of the pen, the snow is deep enough to swallow a lamb entirely.

The bad news on shearing is that it's just too cold to shear my ewes, and I hate to leave them in full wool for lambing; there are studies that demonstrate that shearing ewes before lambing results in better ewe health, better lamb survival and faster lamb growth (presumably because it's so much easier to get to the udder, and the ewes - being chilly themselves - are inclined to lamb under cover). The good news is that my shearer (who I love, because she's kind to my sheep and of a cheerful, sunny temperament) is adept at "tagging" (shearing around the vulva and udder for ease and cleanliness at lambing.) The bad news is that it'll cost twice as much to finish shearing because I'll have to have her out again in a month or 6 weeks.

The good news is that today (whilst tagging and hoof-trimming), all the ewes appear to be pregnant and none feel too thin. The bad news is that the one who had an unsuccessful lambing season last year is the one with the least udder, so now I'm wondering if she just isn't good reproductive material. The good news on that is that she may have bred on the second cycle, so she may simply be just "less pregnant" than the others. The bad news is that that could extend my lambing season by weeks. But the good news would be that by then it'll be warmer and we'll be less likely to have cold lambs who have trouble getting started.

If that one ewe is unsuccessful for the second year in a row, the bad news is that that means I'll probably have to cull her; I can't afford to have a non-productive sheep, particularly one who is (as she is) difficult to handle. The good news is that, even if that's the case, she won't go to waste; adult Shetland meat tastes identical to lamb.

Sigh. This is life with farm animals, I think; a balance between good news and bad. But, at the end of the day, if all the ewes have a lamb, and all the lambs have a ewe, it'll be a success.

Cross your fingers.


Anonymous said...

good luck to the mommie sheep!

The temp is doing the same thing here, 40's during the day and 20's at night. Supposed to be almost 50 tomorrow but 15 for the night. Blankets on, blankets least it isn't wool!!

Here is hoping for good temps and the least amount of mud for you!

Dragon43 said...

Going to have to start working on a better barn for the silly weather patterns.

All it takes is $$$$ ;)

Reagan said...

Ahhh- my headed exploded!!

Good luck!

Della said...

Yep, that's farm life... brought back memories of childhood, though we had cows instead of sheep.

EvenSong said...

Eeuw! I'm getting seasick from all the uppi' and downin'! I don't envy you or the mommy ewes for taking care of business in those tempuratures! Good luck!

MaskedMan said...

The good news is you're able to handle all the variables. The bad news is, you'll have to handle all the variables!


Hang tough, sister-mine - This too shall pass. Until next year.


MaskedMan said...

Oh, BTW: I'm wearing my Lance-marked hat. Inside. At my desk. It's a cool hat!

Thank you again, one-who-rocks-out-loud!

Cavewoman said...

Fingers are crossed!

And I count temps in the 40s for days and 20s for night perfect. That's what we're having here and it's perfect for sugaring. The sap should be running strong, and we definitely need a good year.

LC said...

Yep, that's farm life for ya..the trick is to focus on the good news and sometimes you gotta look real hard for the good news....but it's there just covered up with bad news sometimes ;) Good Luck !

AKDD said...

Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone! I'll keep you posted, naturally. And due to many Dragon spankings (and my desire to avoid another one), I will be taking pictures. :D

MM - ain't no thang. All part of the service here at Dragonfly House. :)

MaskedMan said...

I presume the incontenent volcano to your west is presenting little-to-no-impact, other than water cooler gossip?

Has anyone freaked out, or is it 'more the same?' Oh, and will you need to have the lambs under cover when they begin to arive, or is the (limited) ashfall missing you entirely?

Karl Katzke said...

Hey, ADKK, I don't have an email address for you so I just have to post this here:

Holly said...

Good luck with lambing, I hope all goes smoothly and all you must do is enjoy them.