Thursday, January 15, 2015

Shepherd Days

I'm not sure I could live without sheep but sometimes I wonder if I should just break my deep attachment to them and sell them off. Our first real Idaho winter is proving to be a more expensive endeavor to raise these sweet creatures due to the cost of hay and no supplemental forage. Our hay stash is getting pretty low and I'm busy searching craigslist for the best deal, which is hard to find in the middle of January. Note to self: buy double the amount of hay that I would normally purchase in the fall next year!

My hesitations have also risen from a the sad, premature death of one of our ewe lambs. We found her about a week ago in the back of the pasture and she may have been dead for two or three days. We have never had an animal die without an obvious cause. I worry that it is due to some kind of neglect on our end but then, it's difficult to find a lack of responsibility on our part. I think we're pretty good shepherds..Could it have been pneumonia? Overdose of tansy? Malnutrition? A congenital disease? I wish I knew in order to prevent any issues that could arise with our remaining three sheep. We thought we might at least salvage her fleece but the few days she had been out there was too long and the wool was coming out with just a tug of the hand.

For me, the greatest responsibility comes in the lambing season- perhaps March- but we'll see what this new flock does…As a mother myself, I want the ewe mothers to feel safe, warm and comfortable. A small barn with a jug is what we need but the lumber for their pallet barn will have to wait to be erected until spring.  There was an oscillation of warm and cool weather in the month of December here and I thought I might be able to at least get the posts in, but with work outside the home and crafts and baking this project wasn't a priority and will just have to wait for the great thaw. Whenever that is...