Just as the death of a cherished ewe causes sorrow, the birth of new lambs are the bright spot of the year. Generally, for the breed of sheep we raise, this occurs primarily in February and March, which is generally when the weather starts to improve. This lambing season has begun well for us, so far three ewe lambs and only one ram lamb. More importantly, the mother ewes have been among our strongest and youngest animals, which give the lambs the best shot of a problem freelambhood”. This is also of tremendous value for the shepherd as it relieves the necessity of close monitoring and hand feeding, which often accompanies the birth of a lamb to an older ewe.

Last year our ewes only produced five or six ewe lambs, out of nineteen lambs, worse, all but one came from older ewes and most struggled with the harsher weather. Ultimately, only three survived and although they are precious new additions, all beautiful and healthy, they do not make up for the ewes we have lost last year. Our first mother was Elsie, a mixed color of browns and shades of tan and white, she was a very special ewe for us, perfect features for the breed, tall and strong and an unusual mix of colors prompted giving her a name more reminiscent of a cow than a sheep. She is a spooky ewe, never too trusting, but she is pretty confident and dominate in the herd. She will push her way forward for a prized treat of carrots or bananas, – most of all she is a great mother, she keeps her daughter in sight even while eating, though this is not especially difficult, most lambs keep close to their mothers if they can keep up, Elsie makes sure she does!

We are hoping the weather holds for the next few weeks and doesn’t offer too much of a challenge for these new additions to thrive, we have reinforced the shelters, put more into the feed budget, trying to give it some diversity where possible, but we have learned long ago the weather is always the largest challenge. Shelter improvement, a constant struggle, and ample food are a necessity for healthy mothers and lambs; however weather trumps it all… Navajo Churro are a hardy breed of sheep and we live in the environment they are most suited, but it can get very cold and wet this time of year, a bad combination for weak animals and lambs.     

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