This past Saturday (4.25.20) we sheared the last of the sheep. I had it in my head the whole time that I had 6 left to do, when I actually had 7… oops! The difference between this Spring and last Spring is the shearing stand! It has truly made shearing so much easier! Before, I would just put a halter on a sheep and tie them up, but they could still freely move around. The shearing stand has helped to keep the sheep in place and bring them up to my height so I don’t need to bend over. It’s also been less stressful and safer since I don’t have a moving sheep and sharp shears mixing together.
We had some help shearing this Spring with Lori and Mim, which made everything go double fast! Lori had never shorn sheep before, so this was a new and fun experience for her! It was a huge blessing to have extra hands managing the sheep and shearing one side while I sheared the other. It reduced the time of shearing immensely! By myself, I can average around 30-45 minutes, but with help we did a sheep in around 20 minutes!
We ended up with some really nice fleeces this year, especially from the Jacob lambs and Cheviot/Icelandic lambs! I can't wait to see how they spin up later this year!
The sheep also got their CD/T vaccines and their hooves trimmed. The CD/T vaccine prevents Clostridium Perfringens Type C & D and Tetanus Toxoid, which cause deadly diseases that can lead sudden death. Overeating disease (Enterotoxaemia) is caused by the bacteria Clostridium Perfringens which is found in soil and manure and we all know of Tetanus. There is no cure for either of these diseases, so it is best to prevent it from ever happening by issuing a vaccine.
Laoghaire and Marsali also got their CD/T vaccine as well. They have never had the vaccine so they are being issued a round of two injections, spaced 21-28 days apart. The vaccine is given as 2 mL sub-cutaneous (under the skin) just behind the elbow. In the following year, they will only need to be given the injection once in the Spring. Like most vaccines, they must be given at a certain stage of life. Since newborn lambs and kids shouldn’t receive the vaccine until they are 5-6 weeks old, the vaccine can be given to the pregnant mother 4 weeks before she is due to give birth. This allows just enough passive immunity through the mother’s first milk (colostrum) for the baby to receive some protection from the diseases before they can receive their first vaccination. Eventually the lambs and kids will lose protection and need to receive their first round of booster shots for CD/T, and then receive another shot 3-4 weeks later.
Keeping the animals happy, healthy and safe is the most important part of homesteading! They are vital to the success of the farm and also bring enjoyment during this time of crisis.