Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. All images ar©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Motherly signs

The anticipation of lambing season hit me this morning, perhaps because the weather has lifted some and it smelled a bit like spring today. Or perhaps because Rosemary's belly has expanded to motherly size, and her udder has developed. Even her teats are huge. Yes, we pay close attention to teats around this time of year. With our fourth lambing upon us, I don't get quite as panicked over lambing time, but I never let my guard down either. I usually pull out my sheep books, and read all the bad things that can happen. Last year I even bought a scalpel, what I was going to do with it, I'm not sure, but it seemed like a good tool to have around. {We found it indispensable when we had to butcher the roosters however.}

I am a bit concerned that Rosie is going to lamb much earlier than her 150 day term, which is 4 weeks off. Usually her 'bag' hasn't developed to this extant, and her hips are sunken too, another sign lambing can be near. But when I saw those teats this morning, all big and shiny, I just had to ask her, "Do you know something I don't know?" Rosie is our head ewe, I depend on her to lead the others when they become rattled. She is an excellent mother. If Rosie could talk, and she told me, "Ba ra ram, we must move to higher ground, now. " I would immediately get the gang going.

Pre-lambing time also means a bit of extra caring for the mothers to be. Like a bit of special mother food [we feed only pasture, and winter hay, but for 4 weeks prior to lambing, and 4 weeks after, we give them a helping hand with supplemental feed]. I have taken to spending more time in the morning with the ewes, rubbing the mothers-to-be- between their front legs which they swoon over. It also allows me to touch and work with the younger ewes which helps immensely in calming the flock when you need to handle them. Keeping the flock under 20 really allows this interaction, and it definitely makes lambing more enjoyable, and makes shots and medical attention much better for all.

I asked Rosie for girls, but, this is not up to us. She will provide us with what we need to survive here. We have not bought any meat since harvest time. We eat vegetarian about 50% of the time, and it is very important to us that we can live like this. It is hard for some people to understand how I can eat lambs, especially since I am an animal lover. I didn't get here overnight, but I have thought about this for many years, and I'm at peace with it. Anyone who raise livestock will tell you, the boys come out cute, but very quickly, the testosterone kicks in, and the farm can fall into chaos quickly. The boys must go. But we thank them for what they give us, and how they sustain us, so we can sustain the farm.


salmonpoetry said...

what a beautiful description of the lambing season. and how wonderful to live more in tune with the cycles of nature. i will keep my fingers crossed for females (though perhaps i shouldn't interfere, given my record with roosters...)

Maggie Sumner said...

I just love your stories about your livestock and the life on the farm. Good luck with the lambing.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~