Monday, November 15, 2010

Why, oh why sheep is your rumpus red!?!?

One of the things that we are particularly proud of at Pearson's Town is our humble little flock of Southdown sheep. Okay, most of the flock is humble. Then there is, of course, Buster the ram. . . not so humble. Actually, at this time of year he is down right ornery and very protective of his ladies. One thing that he is a little self conscious of, though, is his "super suit".
Saint Joseph's recently hosted a group of administrators from colleges from Maine to California who are in charge of the summer programing at their institutions of higher learning. During their stay they came by for a reception at the farm. Chef Christian made up a wonderful spread of local fare and our guests endured a rather "blah" day to come tour our place. As we meandered about the farm one of the visitors couldn't believe that we were successfully rearing an organic flock! Through careful application of our permacultural design we have used plants and animals, animals and plants to work together to eliminate the need for a lot of the chemical and medical intervention that our modern times have come to "need" in order to survive.
Our local ruminant vet is excited that are making a go at it, and has given us an "A+" on flock management and health as we move into the winter.
But what about those fannies?!?! Yup, they are red and red is good! Perhaps not the "most" back to earth method, but the marking harness is terribly helpful in allowing us to plan our lambing schedule. After our sheep have mated, the harness lets us know who may be pregnant and helps us to forecast the delivery date. Sheep have a five month gestation period, and an April lamb sure beats a February lamb. Should we have a February lamb though, the marking will let us know that we should be ready to make preparations for cold weather delivery (hypothermia is one of the leading causes of lamb mortality). In our case, we kept Mr. Buster away from the ladies for the month of October so that we would avoid those early lambs. March lambs are much more convenient (for the farmer) and it still leaves them plenty of time to fatten up for the autumn market.

So. . . that is why our lambs rumps are red. Wonderfully, the makers of the crayons that we use make them in a wide array of color. Perhaps next year we will go with something a little different - perhaps they will have a tie dye crayon by then. . . hmmmmm!!

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