Spring is just around the corner, and with it are coming some changes on the homestead!
To begin, this year was our third lambing season, and let me tell you that it was the HARDEST one yet!
We breed our Katahdin sheep so they lamb between January and February, and for us it has worked really well even if it is during the coldest part of the month for us (bacteria and infection rates are much lower during this season).
This breed (known as a hair sheep) is very low maintenance, as they shed their fur on their own without sheering, unlike how a regular wool sheep is. It is a breed preferably raised for meat which is what our family does, and greatly enjoy the flavor and diversity of this great meat.
You can learn more about this fascinating breed HERE.
…But back to my story….
The first year for this newbie raising sheep involved only 7 ewes and 1 ram, and involved assisting in a birth of twins which was pretty scary at first, but thank the good Lord for books and videos that prepared me beforehand so I knew what I was doing, and God knew I would need to prepare for that! Getting the real-life experience of assisting was absolutely fascinating and dreadfully scary at the same time, knowing the life of the mother and babies are in your hands (and the Lords), but it went well, and were thankful all were happy and healthy! We had 12 lambs born that year!
With that under my belt, I was ready for the next round, which went smoothly with no assistance needed, having more sheep than the year before (about 12 ewes). We had many sweet little healthy lambs romping around our fields with one or two bottle fed babies in the bunch (rejected by their mothers) who did really well, and gave me a lot of experience to learn in how and what to feed them and the care involved to get them on their feet. We did have to rescue 2 littles who were almost half frozen at birth, but after a night by the nice warm fire, and a lot of TLC through the night, they were fully recovered and happy to be back with their mother outdoors. We had 15 lambs born that year.
This year…..Words just cannot express the sorrow and heartache this season brought that left me on my knees before the Lord and leaving all my unanswered questions and wondering, and “What if’s” at His feet, knowing He has a purpose in all He does….even if it is painful and overwhelming.
This year’s lambing season was just plain awful. I have learned so much more about myself, and my wooly friends this year than the other two lambing seasons combined, and as much as I am thankful for the lesson, it was almost too much to bear.
We lost a lot of little lambs…and I mean a LOT…almost half!!!
This year we had 11 ewes lamb on the homestead (not including 2 who decided to surprise us with littles in the summer, and lamb AGAIN in the winter with all the other ewes!), two ewes with triplets, and only one lamb from one set survived. We had a total of 21 lambs born this year (including the summer babies), and lost 7 out of the 18 born this winter.
A lot of questions are still unanswered as to really why this season was so hard on the sheep, but sometimes the Lord uses these moments to cause one to reevaluate things, and test your trust in Him when mystery hangs in the air, and we are not to fully know why, other than running through mineral and vitamin deficiencies, and just leaving all the other unexplained causes in His hands, knowing you did everything you possibly could for those dear sheep….
Now that the hump is over with the last little one born this past Lord’s Day so very healthy and happy and full of life, it left this horrible nightmare on a good note, and hopeful for the future of our farming endeavors, though my family and I have decided to make some changes to the direction of our homestead.
I am quite sad to say this, but we will be selling our sheep…..ALL our sheep this year, so we can take a break for a while, and try new things, and be able to focus on other outlets the Lord is bringing about for our homestead, without feeling overwhelmed with too much as we are feeling right now (due mainly to changes in family direction/circumstances individually), with too many sheep, and less time for other things we would like to do on the homestead and abroad.
Prioritizing and downsizing can be difficult at times and cause great sacrifice to change, but is worth it in the end, just to keep things simple and less overwhelming…After all farming should be a great and joyful endeavor and not just a loooong list of “to-do’s”, but a passion and love for the land and animals….Keeping things small and manageable is VERY important!
We do hope to raise sheep again later on, and keep it at a much smaller scale, and have things more organized next time as well, but for now, we know this season it is time to say goodbye to our wooly friends, and find them a farm they will be just as happy on as they have been on ours.
That being said, If any of you fellow Kentucky readers are farmers, or know of anyone who may be interested in raising sheep, or wanting to add to your flock, please feel free to send me an email by using the “Contact Me” page, and I will send you for more info., but please only contact me if you are serious about buying.
“Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.“
(My bottle fed babies Java (above) and Latte (below). )
We will be sad to see them go, but it is time for a break, and a fresh start on the homestead this year, and look forward to many more adventures on the farm to share with y’all.