Spring is probably the most anticipated time on the farm and this year was no exception. There is something about the birth of an animal that makes everything right with the world.
This year has had a lot of ups and downs and I needed that right with the world feeling. This winter we lost our special BFL ram. He was such a gentleman and all that I could hope for was that all the ewes were pregnant with his lambs before he died. Our sheep are pasture bred. That means we turn the ram out with the ewes in the fall and let nature take its course. It also means that due dates are a mystery. So we watch and wait, and wait...and wait. Every year I go through a period when I am sure no one got bred and there will be no lambs and then the first one arrives. This year it was Flora, a Teeswater, Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) cross who led the lambing. Last year Flora had a really hard birth and then she abandon her lamb which resulted in a lamb running around my kitchen for a couple of weeks. I was pretty worried about what would happen this year. Flora did not disappoint. She had two beautiful ram lambs and...picked one. I tried with the other but she just pushed him away. When she shoved him into the hay feeder I had had enough and upstairs he went. All the rest of the births were uneventful except that they waited until after we sheared in April. All but Flora, had single births. The current count is four bouncy lambs in the pasture with their mothers and one portly lamb in the barn, growing up with a goat kid who was born around the same time. There is one more ewe that I think is holding out. Only time will tell.
Goat breeding at Small Acre Farm is different than sheep breeding. Some of our goats are bred by artificial insemination and some are live bred. Either way, we know pretty accurately when they are due. This year the goat due dates are all spread out, one in February, two in March, one in April and one in late May. We raise the kids in the house. What does that mean? It means that for the first week someone feeds those kids every four hours around the clock. Since I am full time on the farm now I usually pull the middle of the night shift during the week. I have loved having the babies close but this year I was pretty excited to have them move to the barn. Of course as soon as that happened, another goat would give birth. Just like the sheep, there is one goat left to kid. I have three more weeks to sleep peacefully.
To round out the spring population explosion here at Small Acre Farm, it is a puppy year. Look for more information about our English Shepherd pair, Tilly and tuck and their upcoming litter in a future blog post.
Spring is surely here and all is right with the world.
Small Acre Farm