Tuesday, May 8, 2012

NO Silence of These Lambs

I feel like such a bad person…

What’s that you say?

I feel like such a…


Oh, never mind…read this...  you'll never be able to hear what I'm saying over the din anyway!

Yes, it’s THAT time of year again.  It’s time to wean the lambs and possibly lose our minds in the process.  It’s the time of year when I am SO glad we live out in the sticks where the noise is tolerated well.  The bawling of the calves from the other side of M’brook is actually a welcome sound; they drown out the screaming lambs. It's the time of year when I am very thankful for earbuds for my MP3 player...and LOUD music. It’s also the time of year when I struggle with the fact that we probably seem SO mean to those who do not understand that we are not torturing the lambs…they do not truly miss their mommies, it is just the change of routine that is unsettling to them.

Earlier today, we brought the whole flock to the barn to sort them out. About halfway through the sorting process, somebody figured out our scheme and the fussing began.  We ran all the ewes out of the barn, and sent them out to the back portion of the farm.

The ewes charged up the hill to a different paddock that was probably not as lush as they expected, but they didn’t seem to mind. We don’t want the ewes to have a lot to eat right now.  We want to stop any remaining milk production to avoid any kind of mastitis, so we reduce their feed intake dramatically for a while.  Some other farmers assure this by locking the ewes in the barn and feeding hay for a while.  We would rather have them out on grass. If anything, they seemed relieved not to have their over-grown offspring butting them clear off the ground to get a little snack.

The lambs hung around the barn for a while.  I gave them some grain so they would associate the feeders and the barnlot with FOOD and good experiences.  We filled the creep feeder with fresh pellets, and the crush was on to eat those.  Due to a mis-management issue on my part, we ran out of creep pellets late on Saturday and I didn’t replenish the supply until the town run this morning.  After a “lambjam” in the feeder, the lambs headed out to fresh grass. For the record, they have had feed during this entire time, just not continuously.

They were cavorting about, nibbling at everything in sight and seemed to be adjusting well.  Then one lamb began to complain.  Once she began to complain, a few others did…and so on and so on.

In order to share the experience, check this out...

Now, imagine it’s at least ten...maybe twenty  times louder and on a five-minute repeat for the next 72 hours (or more).  It will get much worse before it gets better.

After a while, the ewes get into the act and the calling goes back and forth across the farm.  Then, in true surround-sound fashion, Waylon gets into the act.  Whenever there is another sheep calling, Waylon answers.  My theory is that he is always looking for food and/or a good time…so, he has to communicate with all the sheep all the time so he doesn’t miss anything. By nightfall, the noise was truly horrific.  A few moments of silence has ceased to exist here on the hill.  Anything and everything will set the whole bunch off again.

In a couple days, all this noise will be a memory.  The lambs will have adjusted and will be gaining and growing once again. They will be in fine shape when some of the lambchop crop heads to the processor in June.  The ewes will be on their way to recovering their body condition for the breeding season that will begin in August.

…and the cycle will continue…

But, right now…we’re really sorry for the noise! 

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