Yesterday we ushered the lambs into the barn for a winter wardrobe makover. While they are closer to being yearlings at this point, we still think of them as our "designer lambs", since all were named for fashion industry icons. Although it's barely been eight weeks since the last coat check round up, some of them were beginning to look like stuffed sausages. While most of the adults are simply piling on the fleece in this season, the lambs are still growing in all directions which means a closer eye on the trim of their little jackets as they get taller, wider and more woolly.
The post-holiday reality of winter has set in. Over the last four weeks we've experienced nearly every known form of precipitation interspersed with bouts of mind-numbing single digit temperatures and hellish winds. Yesterday brought the second ice storm of the new year, followed the new year's second snowfall. Welcome 2009.
The reserves of hay we stockpiled last August are shrinking at a brisk pace, as we've been feeding a little extra during extreme cold snaps. From the lack of hoof prints in the yard (and the piles of droppings in the barn) I can tell the sheep are not venturing outdoors. I don't blame them. While they don't mind the cold, the wind is another story.
On cold but tranquil days I force them out by dragging a toboggan full of breakfast. They follow the hay sleigh as I pull it across the field, dropping flakes on the snow every five yards or so. Feeding on clean snow is about the only way to feed directly off the ground - a practice which can otherwise invite all sorts of nasty health issues. The wind whisks away any leftovers before trodden by dirty little hooves. The march around the pasture is about the only exercise they get. It gives me an opportunity for house keeping. Bedding straw has been hard to come by this winter and my supply is going fast this year.
Amy stops mid-breakfast to show her gratitude. I mind the cold less in moments like this. The blue bucket in the back is heated (thankfully) and holds 40 gallons of water. The flock has been thirsty so we fill it twice a day.