Thursday, October 4, 2012

Adventures of a Stay-at-Home Mom, episode 3: Raising Lambs!

Their first day out in the pasture!

A couple of my newborns enjoying their heat lamp! 
It's been a dusty whirlwind around here lately! I haven't taken a break to even post a blog entry. The kids are in school and it's lamb market season! I love sheep and lambs and I raise some every year. I take my dad's bummer (orphan) lambs and raise them on the bottle, wean them, get them eating grain and pasture and then this time of year I sell them. As a stay at home mommy I don't have a job outside my home. Everything I do that earns money is done here on "Patch A Heaven". Raising bummer lambs is one of those ways I make extra spending money. Many people have asked me how I can sell these little lambies after I have treated them like my babies. Well...I must tell you, I had a hard time once! I know in the end of the season they will be sold and I know that they will make someone a delicious dinner. And I don't let myself get emotionally attached to them to the point where I can't let them go. When I get them they are barely born, either their moms died during birth, had triplets and not enough milk to feed them all or some other circumstance that requires them to become orphans. In this newborn stage they are very delicate and weak. They require constant feeding, nurturing and watch care in those first few days to weeks or else they will die. I spend much time teaching them to drink from a bottle, feeding them by stomach tube if necessary (sometimes they are so weak or don't want to eat and will die if I don't intervene in a timely manner), and getting them old enough to graze on their own. They are like having a newborn child, they take that much care at first. And I care for them like their moms would, but in the back of my mind I know what my objective is and that is to get them to market. I want them to get to at least 100 lb each before market day. As I mentioned above I had one time that I got emotionally attached to a lamb. His name was Tiny Tim, (yes I even give them all names), Tiny Tim was the smallest little runt and so weak but the little guy had nine lives and I saved every one, but his very last! He was my little trouble maker and he had a will to live like I'd never seen in a lamb before! One time I went out to feed that years crop of lambs and Tim didn't come, so as the good shepherd does, I went looking for him. I found him in the irrigation ditch in front of my pasture, he was so small he somehow slid underneath the fence. He was wet and weak, I brought him in, dried him off, warmed him up, fed him and got him back to health. Another time I went to feed and again he was missing, so I went looking. I could hear him, but I couldn't see him. I followed his baas and he had fallen into a pipe that stands on end that had our irrigation on/off valve in it. I fished him out, again he was wet and weak. I nursed him back to health and he was fine. These escapades of him getting into trouble and almost dead and me bringing him back to life continued to the point where I said I think you are just going to have to be my pet. I had saved his life too many times and we had grown quite close! Unfortunately he did pass away one day. And yes...I was sad. We had become friends and no I would not have been able to eat him. Normally I don't let myself become emotionally attached to them because then it would just be torture at the end of every season. Yes, I understand many may not be able to do this, but it works for me. So far my kids have been okay with it too. They love the lambs, they feed them, love them, chase and play with them, name them, but also realize that at the end of the summer they will be sold and become some one's dinner. It's an important lesson I think for children to know where their food comes from, how to take good ethical care of those animals and that meat should not be wasted or taken for granted. My lambs have been grazing on pasture all summer and have grown to market weight and market day is Saturday. I loaded them into the trailer for their trip to Sanpete where the buyer will pick them up. The market price is not as good as it was last year, but I was still able to make a good profit. Dad's herds came off the summer mountain range on Monday and we went down to help separate the lambs from the ewes. This means we run them all through the chute and separate them. Then the ewes go back up into the foot hills and the lambs into the hay pasture to graze until the buyer and shipping trucks come for them on Saturday. It was a lot of work to run 4,000 sheep through and separate them one by one, but it's work that I find enjoyable. It's a place where phrases like "Skit 'em up!" and "That'll do!" are frequent and there's lots of dust and hollering. Good old fashioned ranch work! You know I read an article in the Farm Bureau news this week that talked about PETA being present at the State Fair and trying to tell people how terrible farms and people that raise animals for meat are. And I thought it's too bad they have a such a skewed view of what the family farm is really like. We love our animals, we take good care of them and we appreciate the opportunity to bring good, healthy, ethically raised meat to the American table. Well gotta go, (we need to check each other for ticks!) Probably won't be back until next week since we are busy shipping lambs Saturday. Thanks as always for reading my random posts! And Happy Fall!!
The chase is on! Young lambs love to buck, run and play. (And so do young kids!)

Cleaning out my lamb feeder.

Handy Husband made this feeder for me a few years ago. I told him he should patent it, it is the best!
 I can feed 7 lambs at a time, huge time saver!

Dad's herds coming down the lane to the farm.They have been grazing on the mountain all summer.

The kids are the best little herders!

"Atta girl Jill" Dad's Border Collie dog. She's a necessity on a job like this and she knows just what to do.

This is a view of the sorting. The sheep go single file through this chute where they are let out little doors into separate corrals.

Everyone on a ranch has a job and this little darlin' is the head dog wrangler. These super smart, super energetic Border Collie dogs are eager to do their job. They have gotten the sheep where they want them for now and she is keeping the dog calm and pulled back off the sheep. (If you push them too much they will bunch up and smother each other.)

Two cousins, playing lost in a sea of sheep!
This years crop of lambs, eleven total for me. (1275 for dad), Happy to say they all made it to market day! I'm getting better at raising these little guys.


  1. I Love all your lamb photos. May I post you multi lamb feeder on my facebook wall?

  2. would like to make a 'lamb bar' like your husband did for you. any way I could get directions? I guess what I need to know is what you used to attach the nipples and what the piece is attached to the PVC. Thanks in advance!