As I proclaim to be a country girl living on the edge of the city, it's time for you to see where a huge part of my heart lies and that's on the farm where I grew up. My farming family grow grain and raise sheep which is becoming more difficult every year due to things like unreliable weather patterns, variable prices for grain, lamb meat and wool. Not to mention the costs outweighing income.
I was fortunate enough to visit the farm in July which was in the height of lambing season. This photo was taken early one frosty morning. The lambs would congregate at the fence and run up and down racing each other, jumping and leaping sideways. Very entertaining.
Due to my brother's brilliant management and breeding programme, the sheep have beautiful wool with minimal skin wrinkling which assists in stopping problems like them being fly blown. They have a high fertility rate and giving birth to twins is common with some triplets occurring. They are also a good meat sheep. My apologies to any vegetarians who are sensitive about this subject.
Due to a lack of rain this year, there was limited feed in the paddocks which meant the ewes of newly born lambs would move away looking for food a short time after giving birth. This meant that for some lambs a strong bond was not formed with their mother and some did not survive. This is especially the case if the weather is severe with cold temperatures, rain and wind. A few lucky ones found in time get to become pet lambs as we call them and this is where they get their tucker.
The lamb bar.
The lamb bar is a galvanised bucket with up to ten teats on the outside and straws that are fed through a hole down into the bucket. Special lamb formula is mixed providing excellent nourishment for these little darlings. As can be seen in the photo above, some lambs need to be fed individually especially if they don't have a strong sucking reflex. As the lambs get bigger it is quite tricky getting into their pen without tripping over them as they are all very anxious to get sucking. It's quite funny to watch the level of milk go down rapidly as the meal progresses. Little tails wag furiously and a good strong hand or hands are needed to hold the bucket securely to stop little bunting heads knocking it over. The above photo was taken several years ago.
These little lambs below were the pets I helped feed this July when visiting the farm.
If the days weren't too cold or windy, they were let out into this little yard with some green feed to nibble, some special lamb pellets and water. When I was taking this photo they were baaing away for me to come and feed them. It wasn't feed time so they were very disappointed. I gave a couple of them my fingers to suck and they were quite disgusted they were sucking for no reward. :-)
My brother also keeps a small herd of Dexter cows. While I was visiting a little heifer calf was born. Her name is Fifi and here she is with mum.
Mum was not too happy with me and thought I was just a bit too close to her day old baby and began pawing the ground in a show of defense.
Isn't she gorgeous?
My brother keeps the Dexters for milking and (sorry vegetarians) beef. There is usually enough milk for three households and a good friend of my brother's makes cheese and yogurt from the milk.
I hope you've enjoyed this little journey to where I grew up. I love looking at these photos, I have so many great memories from my visits. Hopefully another visit will be taking place in January 2011.