Saturday, June 28, 2014

Quiet down, ewe.

The lambs are ninjas. 360 degree roundhouse kicks to the barn wall is not uncommon if they are waiting to be fed grain. They aren't quite as agile or as high of jumpers as goats, but they can jump when they want. We learned what stotting was the first day we got them. If you have never seen a lamb stot, I recommend going to your nearest farm with lambs and watching until it happens. We have 4 female lambs, or ewes, when they become sheep.

Fair warning, our lambs are for meat. They will be gone in the Fall, but I already cannot wait to have new babies come to us next Spring.


 The lambs graze in a fenced pasture. If you are thinking about raising lambs, I recommend this book by Chuck Wooster. He provides enough information without scaring the hell out of you. It's also a great conversation starter for reading on the plane.

Our lambies sleep in a pen at night with wood shavings for bedding. We have been thinking of switching to hay because we have so much excess laying around from the previous owners. We let them out to pasture each morning and bring them in, in the evening by shaking their grain in a container. This sound brings out their inner-lamb-ninja and they come flying.

Fencing is key. There is a whole theory on fencing and 4 concentric circles. It seems silly at first and a little overkill, but once you get the animals, you realize how crucial it is to have a confinement pen, etc. We don't have the 4 concentric circles currently, we are able to make due with the fencing that was here when we moved in with just a few minor adjustments. When we get more lambs next year (probably 8), we know we will need to extend and rework fencing and gates.

One of the major benefits of keeping lambs for the summer, from our point of view, is the ability to have 4 edible lawn mowers. We saw it this way: we could either spend a few thousand dollars on a reliable riding lawn mower that will eventually depreciate in value over time, require repairs, and provide nothing for us besides a manicured lawn OR we could have the lambs go to chow town on the lawn and then go to chow town on them. We do feed them grain, which is an added cost, but since we are raising them for meat we are willing to take that cost on for yummy leg of lamb or rack of lamb. We push mow the rest of the lawn (which is AMAZING exercise, seriously...I'm reminded why farmers don't need gym memberships every time).

Even though I was terrified at the start, lambs are easy. They obviously don't grow to the same size as cows, they don't wreck your lawn like pigs, and...we all know how I feel about chickens.

We remind ourselves that these lambs are not our pets. They are our food and we appreciate them for that. I think it is easy to get attached and I also think that is okay.

We choose not to be vegetarians and therefore know we will eat meat. To me, it is peace of mind knowing that the rack of lamb you enjoy for New Years Eve dinner had a happy life, full of stotting and grazing and ninja-like-moves instead of a life of confinement.

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