This weekend was weaning time, despite the cold, soaking weather (in June!). This meant separating the lambs from the ewes using the custom (homemade) portable sorting chute. My role was to catch a lamb, roll it onto its rump and hold it between my legs while Dan administered vaccinations and put in a permanent ear tag. I quickly became completely drenched, but wrestling the lambs is a good way to keep warm.
|Roger, the county livestock adviser, getting ready to sort|
It was also a special day because Matt and I have decided to become livestock owners-I picked out a lamb for each of us! I picked a ewe (female) lamb that will be kept to breed in future years. Matt wanted to get a wether (a castrated male lamb) for meat and to sell at the market late this summer. I relied heavily on Dan and Roger's advice to pick lambs and ended up with some good size, healthy lambs.
|My ewe lamb, Winky Jr.|
|This is her better side, look at that pretty face!|
|Matt's wether - no name for him|
|A wide loin is a good thing|
I was exhausted and sodden after this work day but I did stop by Courtney's to milk her sheep and try our yogurt experiment again. Glad to report, the yogurt turned out perfectly!
|Denny, to answer your question, this is how you milk a sheep|
Sheep only have two udders, same a goats, whereas cows have four. They don't like to be alone, so even though only one of these ewes is producing milk, we put two on the stands; this makes the one that is milking produce more milk and keeps the one that is not milking trained so she will (hopefully) behave when she does start milking again. And cleanliness is incredibly important when milking and handling raw milk; washing hands, washing udders, keeping milking pails covered etc.
A year ago, I would never have believed I would be doing this, much less enjoying it. Life is certainly strange and happily surprising.