19 April 2014

Big Decisions

Today, I realized something.

I went out to the barn, cleared out Sasha’s stall, and got everything ready – she will calve soon, and I am really looking forward to milking. Weird, eh? I love my cow so much. I don’t even get it. I feel about her the way I feel about some of my best dogs. She has a personality and we partner together in the whole milking thing, and … well, and we eat her offspring, but somehow, in the whole bigger picture, that seems awesome, not awful and yukky.

Now the sheep …

I like the sheep, I do. They are cute. Some of them are friendly, others a little more skittish. There is nothing so adorable as lambs doing the sproinging thing around the pasture in the spring.

But sheep need much tighter fences than cows. I can put Sasha on a tie out and let her graze the ditches (true, I can do that with Cherub, one of the bottle fed lambs, now a grown ewe, but not most of the sheep). We like lamb, but mostly, we prefer beef. I love fibre arts, but I am just not in love with processing raw fibre.

And most of all, my resources are extremely limited.

I can’t get around to the feedings, the shearing, the vaccinations … I can’t do it all. The Boy has, thankfully, picked up most of the slack, but really, I can’t keep up.

I can keep up with a cow, though. In fact, I think I could keep up with two cows and a calf – I would like to have two dairy cows, who take turns being the one on milking duty, so I don’t have to worry about sending one off for breeding right in the midst of milking time … and we’d have a beef animal to put in the freezer every year. Only three or four animals to deal with at any one time, just a few vaccinations, no shearing, everyone halter trained and able to be tied out to eat or moved from one place to the other.

Today, I realized that I need to find another home for the sheep flock.

There are three that will stay – Lambie, Natalie’s last lamb, who we raised on a bottle and who just gave us a pretty little black ewe lamb named Jellybean, who would also stay, and Cherub, The Boy’s 4-H bottle lamb who nudges you to pet her every time you go outside. She’s such a character. They will stay.

Everyone else, though, needs to go to another home where there is grass and fences and space (and hopefully a guardian dog), someone who will happily shear them and delight in them.

I do love them. I just don’t have what it takes to be a good shepherd – I thought I would, but with the onset of PTSD? Nope. I don’t have the energy.

So … if you know anyone who’d like a lovely flock of fibre/meat sheep, send ‘em my way. There are five ewes (three of whom are still due to lamb – so nobody is moving anywhere until that’s done, that wouldn’t be fair), two rams (one of whom is the most beautiful and even tempered Icelandic ram you can ever imagine), and one wether … plus the two lambs on the ground so far, and probably three or six more to come.

I feel … well, I’m sad, but I also feel like it’s the right choice.



I’ll miss them, definitely. But the honest truth is, I’m not well enough to do all that’s needed to care for them. We’ve managed, we’ve done okay, but they need a different home.



  1. Anonymous7:56 pm

    These decisions are always difficult to make - and it usually takes us some time after they are carried out to truly appreciate that it is the best option. I hope they move to a great home and bring as much joy to another country home! And know I'll be thinking about you when those sad moments come.. Love Mom

  2. I so totally understand, Frazzle.

    Paul wanted to sheep early on.

    Year 1-3 ...
    P: "We need to get sheep."
    Me: "Why?"
    P: "Because you spin their wool."
    Me: "No."

    Year 4 & 5 ...
    P: "We need to get sheep."
    Me: "Why?"
    P: "Because you spin their wool."
    Me: "Then we would have to get rid of the pigs and horses and all but one beef cow .... we wouldn't have enough pasture for the Milk Cow."
    P: "But you spin their wool."
    Me: "But I can buy draw wool locally without having to give up our milk cow."

    Year 6 ...
    P: "We need to get sheep."
    Me: "Why?"
    P: "Because you spin their wool."
    Me: "Do you *really* want to take on sheep when I can get wool cheaper locally without having to feed, vet & shear them AND we get to keep our milk cow?""
    P: "No"

    Year 7-12 ....
    P: ... crickets chirping....

    Sheep are a lot of work. I would rather Bless the shepherdess in my area by buying their hard wark.

  3. When something's got to give, you pick something. Thus it is. (._.)

  4. I'm sorry you've had to make this decision, Lonna. I know they'll go to good, caring homes. I just wish that the PTSD wasn't such that you had to even think about it.

  5. How sad that you need to let the sheep go! Sometimes you just have to do for yourself first even if you don't want to. Do you think keeping only 3 is enough though? I've heard that 4 or 5 is absolute minimum for sheep to be happy. I'm a city girl however so you probably need to get more experienced advice.

    1. It's hard to do, but it is the right thing. The ewes all have homes now, just the boys need a place to go.

      Three will be ok as a mini flock here, mostly because of who they are - the two older ones were both bottle fed and so like the people a lot, plus they will have the cow(s) and the dogs, so they won't feel too vulnerable or alone. Every sheep needs a buddy, that is true!

  6. Making a decision FOR your health, wise move. Yes, it will hurt to give up those wee lives so I can see it may be necessary to select their new 'herd hand' carefully and then hand over in peace. Gentle hugs and congratulations.

  7. I am so proud of you...you looked at a situation and made a decision....a hard decision to be sure, but still, you made it. Your health and well-being is the most important thing now. You wouldn't and couldn't give the sheep the care they need if you are sick yourself. On an airplane they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first and then attend to your children...in effect this is what you are doing. Very wise decision Lonna...


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