Feelin' a bit sheepish...

Beekissed

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...and loving it! Getting back into sheep in a small way and need a place to journal about it all.

Starting again with Katahdins, my fave breed, and will keep a very small herd of one full time ram, a wether and a few ewes until I see what my pasture can support. Won't have the wether until my first lambs, so for now it will be three.

Doing all this on a very low budget, as that's the way I love to live. No fences yet but I live in a unique situation that sort of creates fencing around our meadow for now...surrounded by forest, no near neighbors and none with any livestock for over a mile. One LGD that will not likely bond with the sheep at all until we have lambs...I can see him wanting to nurture those. Right now these two old biddies I bought would rather stomp him into the ground rather than bond. They've never been worked with much by humans and never had a LGD at all..they had a llama.

So, will be working on fences, have put up a temporary penning situation until I can build a permanent sheep barn of sorts. Will likely be a pole shed situation, as we have plenty of trees on the land for use. Only three acres of grass/pasture right now and would like to just keep that much, though we have 20 acres in total here.

Have collected free enormous pallets for use in fencing....six large stacks of them. These have 3x3 and 4x4 framing and are 10-12 ft. in length. Were used to move metal sheeting. Will put these back into the woods to give the sheep plenty of browse along with their pasture...we have a lot of stuff they love to eat in those woods~honeysuckle, multiflora rose, greenbrier, saplings and evergreens of all sorts. Then we'll fence the pasture side of each paddock with regular woven wire sheep fencing with wooden posts harvested here on the land.

Hope to milk these few ewes if possible, just enough for Mom and I to use for making cheese and such. Both ewes have passable udders, nice and even, small but well placed teats...not huge udders but we'll see what the ram can add to the mix~his dam has a huge udder and regularly feeds twins and triplets with ease. Could be I'll be able to breed upwards with him.

These ewes were from a flock someone was getting out of...no longer wanted to do sheep, was switching to horses. Supposedly these sheep were from strains of Katahdins bred by a fellow in OH who worked with OU on the improvement program but eventually got out of sheep altogether.

I picked out the two most likely to succeed, though I still felt like they were a tad small for Katahdins~both short and short bodied. Both had just weaned lambs, both had twins but the elder had also nursed and weaned another bum lamb along with her twins. I liked that and felt she may come in handy, though she's already an old lady in sheep years at 7 yrs of age. The other is 3.

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Shine, 3 yrs, is on the left and Rose, 7 yrs, is on the right. They were both about 2-2.5 conditioning upon arrival but are starting to fill out a little on good graze and browse. I should have them where I need them to be by Nov. breeding.
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So, will try to record successes and failures here so I can learn as I go. Will only be using grains for training purposes, would really like to keep them on grass based nutrition as much as possible.

Just starting to get the feel of sheep again and remembering how much I love sheep. I hope to get to the place where I can use them for milk, meat and for keeping the meadow mowed, but also for the bond between sheep and shepherd. I really love that part of it.

My grandgirls are loving my having sheep also and I can't wait until spring when they get to experience the lambs.

So far I have square bales of first cut hay but will be getting a couple round bales of second cut here in a week or so. Will set them up on a self feeding style, using cattle panel placed tight against the hay to prevent too much waste.

Experimenting around with some nipple waterers retrofitted to insulated drink coolers so I can keep water cool and fresh in the summer but try to use an aquarium heater in them this winter as a heated waterer...don't know if that will work, but it's worth a shot. Already had the coolers on hand and the fittings are cheap. Since all water has to be carried and comes from a well, I'm interested in better watering solutions than buckets.
 

Beekissed

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Today my heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude!!! The good Lord is always providing for me and loving me in a million ways, but today is a special blessing!

@milkmansdaughter is coming to my homestead!!!!! :weee:celebrate:loveNot only that, she comes bearing a gift from afar. @Farmfresh was good enough to sell me her very best lamb ram of the season, get him prepped for interstate travel(a LOT of bother, mind you), and MMD is transporting him here to me in WV, all the way from MO! :th

What seemed like a light and jesting comment by FF about how she would love to sell me her ram lamb snowballed into @TexasLisa bankrolling the gas for the drive, MMD doing the transport and FF actually selling me her good stock.:th I am completely and totally blown away by all this generosity, kindness and love...been walking on air for days now, just thanking God over and over for these wonderful women I know but have never personally met.

God moves in such mysteriously intricate ways in this life to bring His plans together. I praise Him for His ways! :celebrate

Romans 11:33: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
 

Beekissed

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Built another gate in the sheep pens today and also situated self feeding hay stacks in both sides of the pen, one for the ram and one for the ewes. The sheep seemed to like the changes.

Also built small shelves for holding the drink coolers and tomorrow will buy additional fittings for using them as gravity fed nipple bowl waterers.

Will be getting the ram, delivered from MO, on Thursday night. Can't wait!!! :woot

Both sheep got a good brushing down by little girls this weekend and each time they are handled, they seem to do better and better. Hopefully by spring, after being trained to stanchions all winter, they will be more willingly handled for milking.

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Shine lined up this morning at the back porch with the morning moochers, waiting for the food bringer :rolleyes: Don't know why she bothers, as she isn't getting anything but grass and hay. :gig

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Baymule

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You can imagine how much Eli and I have to damper down the coveting as we drive away from that place. :drool You know the routine...."what I couldn't DO with a place like that!!!!!"
I sure do. When we bought our first sheep, we followed directions to the ranch. As we came around a bend in the road, there was a magazine picture worthy beautiful ranch. White pipe fence, green lush pastures, a winding lake with 2 brick homes on the shores, black Angus cattle, it was gorgeous. Slack jawed, we could only admire....... thinking about our raw land, barely fenced with no amenities, I told BJ, "Those sheep are going to be so pissed off when they get to our place."
 

Baymule

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Ringo is a sweetheart. He loves attention, scratches, belly rubs and ear rubs. He put his head down and shook it at me about a week after we got him. I slapped his face and scolded him, never did that again. When he is "courting" a ewe, he is not aggressive towards me at all. I don't interfere or get in the way, but he does not try to run me away. I will get some more pictures of him. His first lambs are due October 15.
 

Beekissed

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Well...Jo got his first lesson in mankind's dominion over animals today. I think he's bored silly without his flock mates to butt heads with but he's been invading my personal space these past few days anyway, just mooching for food. This evening I was working in and out of his pen and he came up behind me and butted me....gently but it was a first attempt.

So, I did an immediate reaction but I didn't think he would remember that...more of a knee jerk response, which is always the worst kind. It's a type of engaging in the fight....like when people kick at a rooster that's attacking.

So, I pulled the section of CP in and fastened it, to make the pen much smaller and I proceeded to pressure him...around and around he went, getting more and more panicked as I turned with him. I didn't chase him but I kept my eye on his shoulder and would move a little in his direction if he stopped. Pretty soon he was trying to run through the fencing and that was his demise. His collar got caught or he would have breeched that panel....as soon as I had my hand on his jaw he stopped trying to run. I bent his head back towards his rear and leaned into his side until he went down.

There I held him by the jaw, with his head bent back, while I stood over him....time went by and he eased, heart rate slowed, eyes weren't rolling up. I didn't yell, hurt or otherwise unduly scare him, but he knew I was a predator and he'd been caught, was helpless and was remaining helpless until I chose to let him up. I let him up and he slowly got to his feet and moved away.

There we left it. When next I had to enter his pen, he started peeing and he gave me plenty of space...first time I'd seen him do that. I'll take that as an indication that he knows not to butt the humans again. We'll see if that lesson sticks.

I wish I had him a companion in there so he could joust around with his own kind. He's bored and alone, away from his flock for the first time and just doesn't know what to do. Next week the girls will be in the pen and he will go out on pasture and that will give him more options...he can explore, rub or butt against trees and structures, play with the dog if he chooses, etc.
 

Beekissed

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Could be we will be picking up our new flock guardian tomorrow, if the Lord wills it. A 5 mo. old Anatolian pup that's already been started on sheep and chickens, which is a perfect fit for us here. Owner says he stays on guard, doesn't leave the place nor the flock.

Ben is not nor will not bond with the sheep at all, as he was here long before the sheep were and has no interest in them beyond if he can steal any food they may have. Moving the sheep through paddock rotations will take them, eventually, a distance out of sight of the place and from safety, so they will need a dog bonded to the flock for that.

And God provides.....at a price we can afford and then some, which is unusual for this breed and from this particular breeder.

I think we'll name him Blue...

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...and this time I'll work in a different direction than I did with Ben. This one will be all about the sheep and nothing more. Basic training on things that could hurt us or him, but more of a hands off approach than I had to do with Ben.
 

Sheepshape

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both in the place we are going to locate it and on the purpose of the building itself. Now it's going to be MUCH easier to access for those coming to buy lambs and we will be only building ONE shed/building this year instead of the original plan to build two~one for more wood storage and another for all things sheep. Those two have been combined into a general all purpose pole shed that will serve both purposes.
Definitely the way to go......a 'Shed for Many Uses'.
When we came here 13 years ago we had a leaky old sheep shed with one side completely open, regular flooding from the stream nearby and nowhere for logs, equipment, tools etc. We had our present shed purpose built. One side is for the sheep (and chickens...though they have their own hut), the other for storage, machinery tools, workshop and a thousand other uses. It has a 'mezzanine', used for storage, too. I probably spend more time in the shed than in the house. We built up the banks of the offending stream which has not flooded since, and has carved down a bit dee[er following some unprecedented downpours a few years ago, so no longer threatens to bridge its banks.
If you have an area which you want animals to come into easily, then the wider, the better. Sheep move into wider channels better than narrow ones.
Sheep are intelligent animals. Flock behaviour verges on the asinine at times, but individual sheep are bright and learn quickly. Apparently an individual sheep learns to recognise about 50 faces, sheep or human, and can pick up on emotions much like a dog. They will soon learn to trust and know how you're feeling!
 

Beekissed

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I am so glad that you are starting a sheep journal! Most of all, I am glad that you got sheep.
Me too, Bay. :love I grin every time I hear them "baaa!" at me...it's worth all the hassle of getting started and all just to have another reason to smile in this world.

Bonus....haven't seen a deer in the yard since they arrived. :D They had been chewing down all my roses and eating our apples, but no more deer problems with the sheep in the yard. Funny, huh?

I guess folks who have deer problems in their gardens just need to get a few sheep. :gig
 
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