The Lamb that Saved the Farm

This little girl (I think, more about that later) saved the farm yesterday. She made her appearance between 8:30 am and 12:00 and she floored The Shepherd with her markings.

We’ve never had a lamb like this before, although last week Mandy did give us one gray/black baby ewe with black legs. 

Esmeralda

You can see some of the same markings, but not as intense on this lamb.

Our first lambing in 2019 gave us predominantly white lambs with an occasional brown one. We had a different ram then than we do now. We had Max.

Max and The Shepherd

Max was a beautiful animal. He was also fully aware of the fact that he was a RAM and he intended to RAM you if you were ever stupid enough to turn your back on him. The Shepherd learned his lesson early with Max.

We traded Max at the end of 2019 for a younger, more amenable ram. We got poor little half-starved Randy. The Shepherd wasn’t impressed with Randy at all, and mentioned to me that Randy would be going to freezer camp as soon as possible. Poor Randy.

We kept him for the breeding season and Randy managed to get everyone pregnant, plus he delivered the prettiest lambs we had ever seen. Max came with a huge price tag and only managed to impregnate 8 of our 12 breeders. His fame was much exaggerated and we paid too much for him.

The Shepherd raises our sheep on the premise that, if it succeeded 10,000 years ago, it will work today. We allow them to graze, including grazing trees and bushes and they can eat all the apples and raspberries they can find. For some reason, they love willow trees and luckily, we have several. I’ve seen them munch evergreens.

We’ve allowed them to graze the whole 52 acres of the farm. Unfortunately, and for the last time, that also means all my damn flowers. I have beautiful perennials which were planted by the previous owner and, for two years, I haven’t been able to keep them out of the bellies of sheep. This year will be different. They will be allowed to graze the pastures, but my yard is going to be left alone. The Shepherd will have to mow the grass, but I do not care. If necessary, I will get on the mower and mow it myself. I want my honeysuckle, my roses and my shasta daisies!

My yard

Yesterday was not a red letter day on the old homestead. We have been unable to start or fix our 1955 John Deere tractor since sometime in December. The Shepherd has done everything he can think of to get this thing going, but nothing has worked.

And the pandemic has not made selling lamb an easy occupation. Most people in our area have never eaten lamb, largely due to the fact that it was an expensive meat and there is no money here. There has never been money here. So we are faced with a situation where we put a lot of money into the sheep farm and we get little, if any, out.

This isn’t a sustainable situation just from the morale standpoint. The Shepherd started this farm from scratch in 2017 and 2020 was our first opportunity to sell our harvest. To have your first harvest in a year when the world has been shut down tighter than a spinster’s you-know-what, doesn’t make for happy times.

And let’s face it, there is always something that costs money, requires attention, makes work and generally The Shepherd has no life of his own. He spends his days putting out fires and he’s tired of it. If he was raking in the bucks, he would at least have that to show for it. We aren’t. We probably aren’t even paying for the grain the sheep ruminate on a daily basis.

The volcano has been brewing for a few weeks. Ever since we got no Pop out of the Johnny Popper, he’s been cranky. Yesterday, cranky went to totally angry. And then, he went to give the sheep their second helping of grain for the day.

And this greeted him at the sheep house

Patsy Greets The Shepherd

He came running into the house, asked me to give him his phone and told me the new lamb is all different colors and he can’t believe it. He was excited. When he returned with the picture for me, I was amazed. We have had beautiful lambs from Randy, but nothing like this little girl. We only think she is a girl. The Shepherd can’t tell the sex of the lambs and I usually go down there and he holds them up so I can check. It’s easier when you’re not holding the squirming little thing. One clue as to her sex is that she’s little. The ram lambs tend to look beefy at birth and the ewes are more delicate. Whatever she is, she saved our farm yesterday.

The Shepherd was ready to destock every sheep on this farm, sell the place including the John Deere and get out of Dodge. He was fed to the back teeth with expenses and no profits and no time to do anything enjoyable. I don’t blame him at all. I for one would be fine with no sheep, just us and doing whatever we want to do. We are both in our 60s. He will be in his 60s longer than I will. I only have 11 months of the 60s left. And then I’ll be 70. I don’t relish trying to sell lamb in my 70s.

His mood improved in a flash and even more so when he posted the picture of Patsy on the Maine Sheep Breeder’s Group. Everyone loved that lamb and many asked where we are and is she for sale. No, she isn’t for sale. She’s become Happy Shepherd Farm’s mascot.

We learned from Randy’s original owner that she is called a Badger lamb. I’ve never heard that term before. Randy’s mother was a Badger sheep, so that explains the beautiful colors we’ve been getting this last two years. Patsy’s mom is a pinto – looks exactly like a pinto pony and her markings saved her from freezer camp. I wouldn’t let The Shepherd send her to the slaughterhouse. Freezer camp is the reason I would not mind having no sheep. I cannot take the slaughter of these animals. I saved 4 of last year’s lambs from the butcher. We slaughtered 11 and I told him that is enough. It was deep in the winter, they are impossible to load even in the summer (they know, somehow, where they are headed) and we had enough lamb in the freezer.

Randy, the poor scrawny ram we got for Max, has turned out to be a master stud. He is beautiful now, after being fed and treated the way sheep should be. He’s no longer skinny, although he is still a bit on the shy side with humans. He does control the flock without a problem. His sons have met the full force of his head! I’ve seen sheep legs up in the air when one or the other of them have pushed their father too far! He does not tolerate fighting with ram lambs over a ripe ewe. Nope. He lets them have it.

Big Daddy Randy

He’s getting extra rations for being a good ram!

Grandma Badger
Baby Randy

His head still looks the same. He is an impressive animal!

The sale of the farm has been postponed. Patsy made The Shepherd happy!

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