Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lambing season

This little lady is married to a Shepherd. Yep. We raise sheep. We don't raise just any ol' sheep, though. Nope. Ours are Katahdin hair sheep. What does that mean? It means we don't mess with the back breaking job of shearing wool that brings almost nothing unless it is the highest quality - we just raise sheep for eating. And yes, we sell these pretty little things knowing they are going to be Easter Sunday dinner.


The breed originated in Maine (how about that, Junyah). We chose this breed because they are hardy, have very little trouble lambing, and don't need to be sheared. I have bottle fed a few of the babies whose mama died in lamb birth. That is one of those good news, bad news stories. The good news is they become so tame that they follow you around like a little puppy. It is so sweet. You are their mama. The bad news is that during that first week you are literally up every couple of hours all night long. The other bad news is that ultimately you have to decide whether you have a pet or dinner for someone's table. I've gotten around that so far by selling them to other farmers for breeding. (whew) Fortunately we don't have any bottle fed lambs to take care of this year (so far).

What we do have is one very unusual lamb. We are scratching our heads on this. I took some quick snaps today while we were ear tagging them but will try to get some better shots later. This lamb is so unusual - I'm going to send a picture into the association. We've been raising/breedinig sheep for over 8 years and have never seen such an unusual lamb.



Usually our sheep are white or brown and sometimes a nice mix. The underbelly of this one is solid black. I think he is gorgeous!




Here is what the Katahdin's usually look like. We have been trying to breed more brown into the flock because they seem to be hardier. But it definitely didn't take on these little ones. Aren't they precious?




This is Black Belly's (that is what we named him) mama. MaryAnn is actually quite old for breeding. She is one of our original sheep and was a bottle fed lamb. I walk into the pen and she always comes over and wants me to pet her. She will die of old age on this farm. She has been my baby from day one.




This is dad. His name is Abe (we bought him from the Lincoln University Ag Farm). He's a pretty brown - but no black that I can see.




And who watches our sheep while we sleep? This is Radar. He is the best guard dog around. He is Anatolian Shepherd/Great Pyrenees mix. He is so protective of these sheep. I often wonder how he knows this is his job.






12 comments:

ChicagoLady said...

OMG those lambs are adorable!!!!!

When I have to give up my manatee, I want a lamb next!

Tori_z said...

*Puts hands over ears* Oh, don't! You'll have me refusing to eat meat again. As it is I can't eat meat if I know where it came from. I have to not think of the animal it's from or I can't even bring myself to put it in my mouth. I've turned vegetarian twice before already. The first time I started eating meat again because I was forced to at school. The second time it was pure hunger that made me do it (long story). I keep my meat portions tiny as it is. Start me thinking about what the meat used to be and I'll stop eating it. As it is I have issues with eating lamb and try to avoid it.

The Wife O Riley said...

What an interesting line of work. Those lambs are beautiful. Although, I have never been a big fan of the meat, I appreciate all the hard work that goes into it.

LadyStyx said...

Oh goodness he IS gorgeous!!!

MarmiteToasty said...

Oh jebus, now I want sheep lol.... that little black belly is soooo beautiful I would have to keep him as a pet, he looks like a little goat lol....

My friend breeds Jacobs Sheep which are one of me favourites....

Dam girl, do you wanna swap lives lol....

x

MarmiteToasty said...

ps..... the surrounding fields here are overflowing with baby lambs at the moment.... all bouncing and dancing about.... its a shame that I LOVE the taste of lamb so much :(

x

Karla said...

How very intersting. He is really unusual and very pretty. I have never eaten mutton or lamb. Never looked appetizing..however I have eaten barbqued goat and it was delicious! Maybe I should try lamb....

AliceKay said...

My grandfather used to raise sheep (but i think you already know that because i've mentioned it from time to time). I don't know one breed from the next, but he raised the kind that had the black face. When we were kids, my sisters and I used to love playing with the lambs. Letting them suck our fingers was a strange feeling. LOL. He raised his sheep for the wool, but also sold a few of the lambs each year. To my knowledge, I've never eaten lamb.

Very cute pics.

Intense Guy said...

I continue to be amazed by how "timing" works in this world. I was driving to work about a week ago when I drove by the Skippack Historical Society building (its an old church) and saw the field next to it was full of sheeps and little lambs. I don't know where these sheep actually live, I think they are transported to this field for "lawn mowing" duties.

Anyway, I thought to myself, "Gee, I wonder how ol' Abe and Punkn's sheeps and the expected lambs are doing?" ... and then traffic got heavy and the the thought left me.

That little lamb is adorable. Somewhere back in the DNA sources there are some rogues huh? :)

I bet MaryAnn thinks the revised 23d Psalm when she sees you... you know, "Punkn is my Shepherd; I shall not want. She maketh me to lie down in green pastures..."

*gives Radar a pat on the head and ruffles his ears*

rebel said...

Oh My Goodness, your babies are precious. I couln't eat them either. They are just way too cute. Your little different one is adorable.
Thanks for the great pic's. I love lookin' at your sheep, especially the babies.

junyah said...

Thatsa new one to me that theres a sheep from Maine, i have never eaten any mutton either,i dont know why...its just something i dont think i would care for. But Give me a Moose, i'll have a plate full of it any time. lol

Queenie Jeannie said...

I had no idea you guys raised sheep! HOW COOL!!!!!! Loved this post!

Those little white lambs are so darling! And your little Black Belly is so unusual. Genetics are so fascinating!!

I'm glad you have such a good dog to watch over your flock!