Weaning and the Wind

Early last week we sorted off all the lambs from the ewes. The lambs are four months old and by this age the majority of the ewes have weaned their lambs, but of course, the mother and offspring connection is still strong.

Typically we sort market lambs and sell them right after sorting and we leave all the lambs we are keeping, with the ewes, to wean naturally. This is the first time in several years that we have weaned all the lambs and done so prior to selling. Once the lambs are weaned the majority of them will return to pasture, but for now they are in a paddock near the yard and eating hay.

The ewes were marched back out to an adjacent pasture, and about ten of them made their way back and took up pacing and baaing on the outside of the fence. We left them alone until the next day and then took them back to pasture. Two of the ewes came back again. We left them alone because they were doing no harm and I wanted to see how long they would take to break off from their lamb.

The group cacophony of baaing lasted two days and then everyone settled down. The two ewes took to grazing nearby and stayed, still hopeful they’d get their lambs back. They hung around for six days and finally made their way back to the flock on their own. This is what I love about not being rigid about the manner in which things occur. There is opportunity to watch small happenings unfold.

Since we have all the lambs sorted we’ll tackle the job of weighing, tagging replacement ewe lambs with our farm tags and tagging market lambs with the required RFID tags. With the growth of our flock Allen and I have taken to doing these larger processing chores in stages rather than all in one day. So on one day late last week we sorted the lambs and hauled some hay in for them.

This week high winds blew open a gate and a few hundred lambs came over to mingle with the dogging sheep and see if their feed was any better. Thursday we decided to start doing some tagging, and now sorting, since I needed dogging sheep for use this weekend.  We did a short half day of tagging and sorting, then I was off for a stock dog lesson with one of the best stockmen in our province... Oh how I needed and enjoyed that.

Since I took off and left Allen without stock dogs, I had some lambs to move back to the weaning paddock this morning but then a different opportunity presented itself. There was a decent sized group of untagged lambs near the barn so I decided to bring them in instead of taking them to rejoin the others. I had Jayde with me and young Gibson along to assist in his first larger chore.

Gibson was abuzz with excitement, I think both from working with another dog and working a group of lambs which were nothing like the sheep he has worked so far. Without going into stock dog details, it was a wonderful session of work for both dogs. Lickedy-split we had those lambs in the alleyway and moving into the bugle. I wasn’t going to put Gibson into a situation of trying to force lambs into a working race so I put him up and had Jayde help me get them started. Then I spent a couple hours on my own, tagging the group of sixty five lambs the dogs so expertly corralled for me.

Afterward Jayde and Fynn moved the lambs back and we did one final collection of the last renegades and finally had all lambs together in the same place again - ready for the next day.