Yippee! What a big day! George from Ewephoria Farms came by mid-day with four beautiful sheepies for me!
Here they are, very much keeping their distance. They wouldn’t let me get close enough to get real closeups. Maybe this weekend? I’ll name them in a couple of weeks when they cozy up to me and I can tell a little more about their personalities. Left to right, we have: Chocolate Romeny yearling ewe, (black-factored) white Merino ewe lamb, and two Shetland wether (castrated male) lambs. I’d put them at about 150, 100, and 40-50 pounds each, respectively. The Romney is full-grown, the Merino will be slightly smaller than her, and the two boys will be about 100 pounds each.
The boys are buddies, and very curious and friendly. Does anyone know what markings the guy on the left has? There are different names for all of the different Shetland markings.
Here he is on his own. I think the horns will curl around as he gets older.
George didn’t end up bringing the retired chocolate Merino ewe (Tina decided a move at her age would be disruptive), but he did bring an extra Shetland wether lambykin buddy for my other Shetland wether. He also brought goodies! He gave me two old hay feeders, which was great, because hanging the one I bought from Orshlen would have required framing in a brace, and these hang right over the poles in the barn–plus they’re cuter! He also brought a show-and-tell bucket full of supplies I should get, and gave me a explanation of what each is for. And half a bag of the sweet feed they’ve been getting to mix halvsies with mine so they can adjust, and a lead. Oh! And some LUSCIOUS combed top from Tina that I’m going to carry in my etsy store.
George pulled up the trailer and unloaded them one at a time, stopping to trim hooves and give worming injections. He sat the Romney or her butt, but worked on the Merino standing (she struggled a bunch, then finally flopped over and lay down on her side). He let me watch/try trimming on the Romney & Merino–I was kind of timid about it, but I’m sure I’ll gain confidence. I think the Shetlands’ hooves were fine–but they’re way less daunting anyway because they’re friendlier and less than half the size of the others. He also demonstrated the worming injections–I used to give Kiki allergy injections & it’s the same, just a subcutaneous shot–and showed me how the oral dosing plunger thing works. I won’t have to worm them again until March. I don’t know whether I’ll go oral or injection. (Any advice?)
Let me tell you, the Merino and Romney wanted nothing to do with me! They wouldn’t let me anywhere near them, and bounded off to the farthest end of the yard whenver I approached, then eyed me with suspicion and/or contempt.
Soon I’m sure they’ll undwind and quit being so darn stuck up! The Shetlands were much braver and easygoing, especially when there was grain involved. They’re actually very doggy! But the two big girls wouldn’t even tolerate me with grain.
But by the end of the day, the boys were coming up for scratches, and the Merino was snooping around me while I rushed around in the twilight, trying to think of anything I might be forgetting. I’m hoping she’ll be friendly tomorrow so I can measure her for a jacket! By nightfall, the Romney was still suspicious, but even she was more relaxed.
I think I need to get a big bucket for their grain instead of the little tin I brought out today. I remember Tina had a great big bucket she used, and when I was walking around with a big plastic planter full of wood blocks to stuff into the depressions around the posts (I’ll replace them with dirt tomorrow), everyone found me suddenly charming and came over to investigate.
I still need to make the barn door, and get Ron’s help (or maybe have Ron and another boy do it…) moving the dead freezer out of the basement and out to the barn. I’m going to use it to store feed and mineral, since it’s vermin proof & airtight. It’s also big enough to hold everything, for both the chickens and sheep (that’s: a bag of scratch, a bag of layer ration, a bag of sweet feed, one of sheep mineral, one of rock salt, and grit–and there will probably be plenty of room for other sundries as well. I may build a big shelf/table that goes over it where I can put the extra straw bales and the current hay bale (the feeders each hold about a quarter bale). I’ll have to do the math and decide if it will work with the freezer lid open. And I need to install the solar security light, and some small solar spots to give the chickens some PM light during the winter. Aside from that and flashing the eaves, and maybe adding some storage shelves, we’re pretty much good to go!
Here’s the back side of our recycled barn. I still need to make/hang the barn door. And we’re going to put the deck back above the roof so we can keep it as a patio space. The near side is old doors, the striped side is made of old baseboards.
I also really want to design a winter water passive solar heater. Here’s my idea: an insulated plywood box, painted black to absorb heat. Inside is a sturdy tub filled with chicken litter and waste hay that will produce heat as it composts. Above it sits the rubber water tub, which rests in a cutout in the top of the box. Off to one side is a solar heat collector based loosely on the Mother Earth News heat grabber plans, with some ideas from an implementation I saw on Instructables. A hinged plexi cover covers 2/3 of the tub, so the sheep can still drink, but it’s less exposed to weather and can absorb some heat during the day. Maybe only the bottom 3/4 is insulated, and the top quarter of the box is open to allow flow of warm air in from the solar collector. Needs some kind of out vent, maybe leave a channel with holes at the bottom so as the air cools and sinks, it will flow back out? The solar collector will face south, and the whole apparatus will be sheltered from the north by the barn.