Some people just let nature take it’s course, and if you have the right climate then more power to you and Mother Nature. We do not have that luxury. In February it can dip to -20F or even colder, and that is not a nice way to greet baby lambs.
We are choosing to wait until late May or early April, hoping that the longer days will push the temps back up closer to freezing or at least above zero for the little darlings. For meat lambs this would mean they wouldn’t have time to reach market weight by the fair, but since we have fiber sheep this schedule will work out just fine.
Interestingly enough, our Maremma came into heat and has been confined to quarters because we want to wait for Spring/Summer pups. Last year’s litter was a winter brood and it worked out but there were some challenges. Since we do have full time jobs outside our home, managing pups and lambs might be a little overwhelming. Our male Maremma is a bit distracted but still managing to keep half an eye on the sheep. Thankfully this period of separation will be short, because watching those two pine for each other is almost heartbreaking.
Our chickens produce eggs all year long, and we start incubating in December or January. We have expanded our incubation equipment and plan to produce about 500 chicks this year. The layer coop is a mix of breeds selected for size, heartiness, egg production and cold climate tolerance.
We have been fortunate enough to acquire several Silkie chickens and will have a Silkie project this spring. I’m excited to see what comes from our assortment of colors. I would like to have some more eggs shipped up so I’ve started looking for reputable breeders in the lower 48.
Once the weather warms we can get some more Icelandic eggs shipped from an outside breeder to expand the gene pool. We tried several times last year and never did get a successful hatch. The post office manhandles the packages and destroys about half the eggs in transit so it’s never a very successful hatch, but every little bit helps.
Did you know? It’s possible to scramble an egg inside it’s shell. If you drop, kick, toss, shake, rattle or roll the package enough times it will damage the egg beyond any hope of development without breaking the shell. And if you write FRAGILE on the package it shows up looking as if it was drug under the truck the whole way here. Sad tale but true. If the postal service wants to increase their sales maybe they should design a way for fragile cargo to arrive unscathed.
Stay tuned to see lots of babies in the spring.