It’s Weaning Time
The lambs are now four months old and it’s time to wean them from their mothers. We don’t have a sheep dog so all our sheep are trained to the bucket. However, this doesn’t help much when we need to separate them from each other.
We wanted the ewes to remain in the hilly paddock, the ram lambs in the little duck paddock (so we can feed them up for their last few weeks) and the ewe lambs on the lushest grass in the river paddock. It took about 5 hours, a fair bit of chasing and some increasingly expert catching from Colin before all this was achieved. This also allowed Colin to handle and check every sheep.
We then spent some time sorting out our flock record. We now just need to decide who will stay and who will go. We don’t keep our own tups (rams) so all nine boys will go. We will keep some for ourselves for meat throughout the winter. Some of the older girls will go, replaced by this year’s ewe lambs who will form part of our new breeding stock. When making our choices we like to keep an eye to diversity in our Shetland flock, keeping breeding ewes that are good ‘types’ and keeping a mixture of colours. Fortunately, three of this year’s ewe lambs are moorits and these will replace the old moorits we lost last year.
We wean late to minimize the stress to the sheep and lambs but there will still be a few noisy nights to endure as they bleat to each other across the paddocks. They can’t really see each other from their new paddocks but unfortunately they can hear each other and will call out for a few days.
When the ewes have dried off in a few weeks time we will reunite them in the river paddock where they will have the best of the grass before tupping in the autumn.
And so, as I write this, I can feel the seasons turning.