I thought I would take a moment to formally introduce the newest additions to our little homestead. A few months ago, we purchased four Romney ewes (girl sheep). The Romney breed is a dual purpose sheep, meaning that it is good for both meat and wool. Our hope is to raise the lambs for our meat needs with the possibility of selling some as well. We will also be shearing the sheep about every 9 months. We’re planning on selling some wool and keeping some for our (read: my) knitting or felting needs. Yep, I’m learning to knit and felt so I’m anticipating big things in the future!
So, without any further delay, let the introductions begin.
Alice is six years old and a little on the small side. She is named Alice after the small version of Alice In Wonderland. She is the most friendly and bravest of the older ewes. Because they were a little thin when we got them, we’ve been giving them a mixture of corn, oats and alfalfa pellets. This will also help prepare their bodies for pregnancy (although soon we will slowly wean them off it until they are 100% grass-fed). As soon as we walk out into the barnyard, up runs Alice, sniffing at our hands, just waiting for a treat.
And this is Eleanor, named after the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Eleanor is the two year old daughter of Alice. So even though Alice is small, she has “full sized” babies without any problems. Eleanor is the most skiddish of the four. She was the last one to start eating out of our hands and the first one to run if someone moves a little too fast. I guess her unease around people is why she hid in the barn when her previous owners had the wool shearers stop by. As you can see, she still has all her wool because no one noticed her missing until after the shearer was gone. (We’re just leaving her like this for now and shear her in the spring with the rest of the sheep.)
Next is Molly.
She is named after the Unsinkable Molly Brown because, as they sun bleaches the black wool, the color changes to a rich, deep brown. Molly is four years old and is the biggest of the ewes. She’s more cautious than Alice but quickly gets over her fears for a handful of grain and alfalfa pellets.
So those are the three older ewes. Right now they are hanging out with this guy:
Perhaps this puts him into perspective a little better.
Yep, he’s a big guy but not too big for our ewes. He’s on loan to us from Josh’s co-worker to get the whole “ewes having babies” thing started. Since he came to us without a name, the kids dubbed him Ramsey. At first we were concerned that he would get overprotective of the ewes and therefore aggressive towards us but that hasn’t happened. He does herd them around some and is extremely cautious and skiddish of us but hasn’t acted aggressive at all (although we are constantly watching because you can never assume anything with animals). Having been here a month, we’re hoping Ramsey has done his job and will be going home soon.
And finally we have little Virginia, named after our home state.
Virginia is still a lamb. When she was born, her mother passed away so her owners bottle fed her. She is extremely friendly and loving. We weren’t originally going to buy her but she is just so darn cute. She is a little small but since we’ve gotten her she’s gotten as big as Alice so I think she will be just fine by the time she finishes growing. But because she is still young, we decided not to breed her this year. Let me tell you, separating Virginia from her herd has been hard, especially when the goats were gone from the farm. She was in the barn all alone. The poor baby just cried and cried (well, baaaa-ed and baaaa-ed) all day and night. She calmed down some once the goats got back and were quarantined in the barn (to stop any diseases they picked up at another farm from spreading onto ours). Now that the goats have the been given the all-clear, Virginia heads out to the pasture with them every day. She’s definitely the lowest animal in their herd but at least she’s got company. And once the ram leaves she’ll be back with her family again.
So that’s our little flock. At this point, we’re happy with four ewes but are considering buying a lamb ram this spring. We like the idea of being able to produce meat from start to finish right here on the homestead which means we need a boy for our girls. But we have a few months before we need to start thinking about that. Right now we’re just getting everyone settled in.