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Early Ice

Posted 11/23/2008 8:29pm by Catskill Merino.
Freezing days on the farm are tough, especially those that come before they're expected like the gusty ones that blew in last week. 
Saturday while I was at market the lines to the water tubs froze.  Today Dominique carried 5 gallon water buckets to the thirsty sheep (a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds); and even though she drove the buckets to the sheep paddocks, they had to be lifted up to, and down from, the bed of her truck then gotten over the fence while trying not to spill the water on herself in the sub-freezing morning temperatures—that's close to 40 buckets for the flock.
Tomorrow, as planned, when we bring the sheep closer to the barn (to more easily manage their feeding and watering) we'll pull the breeding rams from the ewe flock.  The coming days are forecast to be in the 40's; we'll be able to get electric water heaters in the tubs and finish preparing the flock, and ourselves, for the coming cold.
We should see our first lambs around March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day.  Lambing will go on for the length of time the rams were with the ewes—36 days—the time of 2 ovulations and it will conclude on April 20th, about 3 weeks before the flock goes to pasture.  This will  give the late lambs enough time for their rumens to develop as they transcend from mother's milk to native grasses.