Evergreen Students for Sustainable Animal Agriculture

  (Olympia, Washington)
pastured lamb
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Fall in the field

 

A new season of lambs are on their way! Our ram Big Boy is in with the ewes doing his thing, making sure all of our ewes are bred. He is outfitted with a chalk harness to mark the ewes as he breeds them so we can make sure all of our ewes are pregnant. We will ultrasound in a few weeks to double check. Until then, our ewes will graze in the field with colorful chalk markings on their rumps and mingle with Big Boy. 

 A new year of school has also begun and with it come club meetings. It is great to get to see old friends from sheep club again and to welcome new club members into our flock. I'm excited for all this year will bring! 

   

 
 

The Littlest Sheep Dairy

This is Franny Lou:

 

And this is Franny Lou's milk!:

 

Franny unfortunately lost her lamb, but we decided to make the most of the situation and use her milk. Now, sheep club members get to learn how to milk a sheep and how to manage a tiny one-sheep sheep dairy. Franny is milked twice a day and Victoria is freezing most of the milk to make sheep ice cream. 

 

Franny is a very well behaved sheep. She stands patiently in her halter as we milk her, provided she has somebody patting her neck and sitting beside her. We want to build  a head gate so that milking can become a one-person job. Right now we are looking at designs and planning a building party. 

 

Sheep's milk is fattier and sweeter than cow's milk. It also has more protein and calcium. I drank some yesterday and it was delicious. I can't wait to try it as ice cream!

 

 

 
 

Shearing

We sheared all the sheep this weekend! It was hard work, but we worked through it together, taking turns and helping each other. One person would hold a sheep while one or two more sheared and a third took the opportunity to trim the sheep's hooves. While this may sound like an efficient strategy, it took hours to get the shearing done. Professionals can shear a sheep in a matter of seconds. We are far from professionals, taking forty-five minutes to an hour and a half to shear one sheep depending on the breed. Our Romneys were the biggest challenge. Still, the sun was shining and morale was up,keeping everyone going and gaining shearing experience. I'd never sheared a sheep before, so every moment was a learning opportunity. We'll be professionals in no time, or perhaps a little more time than that. 

 
 

A Sheep Feeding Experiment

Recently in sheep club we've been discussing possible feeds to supplement the diets of our ewes around lambing season. We know that the ewes will need some extra energy during that time, but we have yet to decide what the best feed to provide that energy would be. The grain we fed to the ewes last year worked out well, but this year we wanted to explore some other options to see if we could find a non-grain energy source. 

At Thursday's club meeting, Mike announced that he might have found the perfect supplement for our sheep: Craisins and dried cherries. 


They're small, concentrated, full of energy and nutrients, and economical when classified as not for human consumption. But do sheep like craisins? Would they be able to eat them without them gumming up in their mouths? Would they eat them at all? We went to the pasture to find out. 

First, we put some craisins in a black plastic feeding tray that we have used before to feed the sheep. When we shook the tray and placed it on the ground, the sheep came running. They seemed to be loving the craisins, all clustered around eating them, even pushing each other out of the way. It looked like the craisins were a wild success. Still, we couldn't be sure. We dumped some piles of craisins and dried cherries onto the pasture to test whether the sheep would find them and eat them off the ground. The sheep had much less interest in the craisins on the ground. A few of the sheep ate them, but with much less enthusiasm. We left them with a few piles of craisins and a pile of cherries. Maybe the sheep just need to learn that the craisins are food or maybe they only ate the craisins from the feeding tray because they expected them to be grain. 

 We still have a bit more figuring out to do about this craisin situation. 

 

 
 
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