The sheep actually came to the farm a couple weeks ago, but I’m only now getting around to writing about them. This is for the best, since it gives me more material for my post than just an announcement that I had acquired some new livestock.
They are are a mix of Dorper and Kathadin genetics, which means they are hair sheep. In the past the fact that sheep could provide not just milk and meat but also wonderfully useful fiber made them distinctly valuable on the farm. Now, however, the value of the wool often doesn’t pay for the cost of shearing, particularly when the sheep have ample opportunity to encounter burdock and thistles, as they will on my farm. Hair sheep shed out their fleece in the spring, meaning they don’t provide wool, but also meaning they don’t need regular haircuts. Just as important, they are generally more parasite resistant than wool sheep, which makes them better suited to our management practices.
I have very much enjoyed watching them graze, though it did take a little experimentation to figure out a wire spacing that would keep them in their paddock. They are a much less intimidating size than cows, and they aren’t nearly so pushy as pigs. They also stick together better than the other livestock, and the way they move reminds me of a school of fish or a flock of starlings. They vocalize and stamp their feet to warn each other that I’m approaching in an almost identical manner to whitetail deer.
Oban is excited to have them here. In fact, he’s a bit too excited - he doesn’t yet understand just how light a touch he needs to get them moving, instead wanting to run in close as he does with the cows and pigs. I keep him on a leash when I’m around them, and my hope is that in another couple months they’ll be comfortable enough with each other to begin working in a training ring.
In this picture you can also see the new stock trailer. I am inclined to buy things used whenever possible, and it’s mostly served me well. But for some reason trailers apparently retain value better than any other piece of equipment, and I found a perfectly sized new one for a great price. It rides smooth and it got the sheep back to the farm without a problem, though getting it hitched up to the truck required having a hirsute junkyard owner driving a rusted out econoline take a cutting torch to the bumper. But that’s a story for another day.