So as most of you know we had a crazy fun-packed, successfully lambing season, producing over 30 lambs this spring. That put my flock at 50 something sheep. That is a lot of sheep for a small-time hobby farm. I love each an every one, but the late spring frost froze the buds off the Money Tree, so no big money crop this year. That of course means, the fields we had hoped to get fenced will have to wait, which means this shepherdess had to make some tough decisions and reduce her flock.
Hubby was generous and said that we could keep 10 lambs from this year's crop, putting our number at around 30. So who to sell and how became my mission. The first sale was an easy one. Had a childhood friend who was interested in raising 'bottle babies' with her four young girls. So they came up and pick four early on before they got too attach to mom. Those are probably the most loved and affection given lambs ever born. Those four little girls were just loving on the those lambs. I wouldn't be surprised if they've been dressed up in a bonnet or two since going to their new home.
Then it got hard. Who to keep, who to send and who will go to the freezer? Yes the freezer, now listen, where do you think your beef comes from? Not my sheep of course, but at some point that burger was a living cow who's life was provided by the Good Lord to provide energy and nourishment to yourself & hungry kids. It's the same here, we raise these animals 1. because I love sheep 2. because hubby bought a farm and what else do you do with a farm? and 3. to provide meat & wool. So you'll have to get over your aversion to hearing that some of these lambs will be in the freezer in a few months, I had to and I'm the one feeding and loving them. Anyway...
Then hubby went on a work trip for three weeks and I got ridiculously overwhelmed by the monster weeds in the garden, the grass that grows like it's on steroids & needs to be cut every day, the prospect of cutting and baling hay, the lambs that got the runs, the ewe that had a limp, the horrendous gnats that attacked like an army of super tiny suicide bombers each time you left the protection of the house, the 4-H pigs who in their excitement to see someone with a bucket of slop flung poo in my face, and just the general everyday feeding, cleaning up after, taxing of the four children who reside here and decided that it was indeed time to greatly reduce the flock because I just couldn't do it all. So craigslist and facebook it was. With in two weeks I had sold 1/2 my flock. I got to provide a couple new Shetland owners with some starter flocks and I provided some others with lambs that will provide their families with some tasty meat for next year.
After finding new homes for most of the lambs and a few ewes, the anxiety I felt about spring chores has been reduced greatly (probably helped that hubby finally came home and the garden got mulched and the grass got mowed). I also feel better about the reduced number of sheep that will have to be shorn in the fall.
We also recently had to say goodbye to one of our two flock rams. His horn were continuing to grow in towards his face/neck even after trimming them. So we had to make the hard decision to have him butchered. So soon we should have our freezer all stocked up with meat. I've already caught hubby staring hungrily at a cookbook reciting the ingredients of roasted leg of lamb, lamb stew, lamb chops, lamb meatballs...
I'm happy with who I chose to keep and am excited to see how they change as they grow. I"m looking forward to breeding again in the fall & lambing in the spring. I love raising our Shetland sheep, but it's not all fun and games, sometimes it can be pretty stressful and hard, but it's definitely worth it. My next big decision is who will we take to the Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival in the fall?