Autumn has got to be the best time of the year on our farm in Robertson. Summer always makes me feel a bit stressed. The pastures take a beating and the girls tend to look hot, as they pant in the shade of eucalyptus during the midday onslaught. The “Autumn break”, as the farmers call it, brings lower temperatures and good rain. Its not long before the farm, once again, is a sea of lush pasture and the white grazing sheep are a picturesque sight set against bright green paddocks.
The other significant thing about this time of the year is that the ram goes in with the ewes. Its an exciting time, watching him sidle up to the girls who will either accept him or in no uncertain terms, tell him to buzz off. We have never had to have the little “birds and the bees” talk with our boys. At age 5 my Lizard Man, in a wise tone, said of his pet ewe “Oh look mum the ram was on top of Moo, she will have a baby now…”
We put a harness on our ram which has a crayon that marks the ewes backs. See the blue marks below on the hindquarters of the girls.
I love bringing the girls in from the paddock each day and counting how many have been marked. The first marking basically determines how long our break from milking will be. This year we will dry the ewes off at the end of April and they will start lambing at the very start of July.
Sheep dairying is very much in tune with the natural rhythm of the animal. Unlike cows, ewes have not been interfered with in any significant way to dramatically increase yield or length of lactation. So, our girls have a relaxing couple of months happily getting fat in the paddock and when the time comes, raising her lamb. More about that in another blog.
Here’s a pic of the main ram we are using this year. Isn’t he handsome? We proudly bred him and he was chosen for his beautiful and docile nature. Can’t wait to see his progeny in the first few weeks of July….