I haven’t really slept since Thursday night – and even that wasn’t a great sheep (interesting typo – that was supposed to say “that wasn’t a great sleep”).
Ever since 20 April (the arrival of our first lamb), I’ve been getting up early to make sure everything is okay with ewes and potential lambs alike. But early has nothing on the last few days. One Friday I got up my usual early to see that one of my ewes looked like she should go into labour. Sure enough about an hour later, she did. I was surprised she didn’t twin because she’s out of a twin/triplet line but whatever, cute ewe lamb so I wasn’t worried. Then an hour later she did twin – an adorable ram lamb. A bit late, he was distressed but all is well. We went to the US for the day – had to get some repairs done and the nearest appropriate repair shop was across the line. Came home, babies were fine, all was well.
I went to bed early because on the first night of new babies I like to check on them around 2 or 3 am. Good thing that I did. When I went out to check one of my ewe lambs was obviously in labour. After a very, very long and difficult labour she birthed a perfect, huge ram lamb and would have nothing to do with it. Hours later we’d forced her to stand while he nursed and resigned ourselves to a bummer lamb (that’s one that needs to be bottle fed). So, the rest of the weekend passed in a blur of sleeplessness and having J restrain mum to let the little guy feed and bottles- not at all helped by our social obligations that seemed to consistently occur during the pauses where I may have napped.
Anyway, we were just coming to the tail end of the chaos where the little guy wouldn’t need as intensive time commitments when I go out to feed him and am halted. First I think – man… I really need some sleep. And then I do a double take and realize – nope, there really is an extra ram lamb out here. My other ewe lamb dropped the baby and ran. So now I have two babies and no sleep last night. Fortunately I will be back to a human-ish schedule by next week end because all of my girls have lambed now. But lesson learned – no breeding in the first year. Apparently all of my sleeplessness has paid off – a lot of people report that they usually lose at least half of the lambs born to mums bred in their first year (ewe lambs) or the mums themselves. We haven’t lost anyone – so I am really pleased and feel like that alone is worth something.
An interesting thing I have just learned relating to my sheep is – if I sell even one or one little thing from the farm that I choose to declare as income, everything I buy for this place (relating to the animals, that is) becomes a tax write off. I spoke with the accountant yesterday and had no idea how many things I can write off. And they’re cool things too, like plants for my garden that are part of the pharmacopoeia. I suspect other people would have known this and I suspected myself but wasn’t totally sure, didn’t know how it worked, who to ask etc. The one person I spoke to told me I had to have a farm income of at least $2500 to be in that category but my account says absolutely not.
Anyway it was great to have it confirmed and great to confirm it with the person who works for a big firm doing my taxes – I figure she ought to know! I also don’t have to make a lot of money – any is just fine. So, yesterday I made a big envelope to put receipts in and there’s already $100+ in there without actually going on a hunt to look for some of the other things that *could* be in there; and I have receipts I need to print off from the earlier part of the year. I suppose the really good news about that is the spinning wheel and drum carder I’m considering getting so I can sell wool would also be a write off; as will the fence we’re buying to expand the grazing area, the land the sheep are on and the two ewe lambs coming this summer. It’s thrilling really. And I love the idea of having hand spun that I could sell at a really reasonable price – knowing I get a write off makes that easier. It’s love the gov’t is essentially going to pay a share so that normal people (like me) can afford real wool. Way too cool. Of course it would be ideal if I could make all of my income from the farm but if not, this is a really cool way to juggle both worlds. And keep my benefits. Our package may not be great but it’s better than I’ll get as a full time shepherd!
On a knitting and wool note – I’m currently working up a lacy scarf in some beautiful handspun my sister gave me. It’s lovely and very fine. It was difficult to find a pattern that fit it though – in part due to my skill level being on the lower side and in part due to the lovely colours of the yarn. When you’re working lace you never want something so intricate that it ruins the patterning of the yarn. You also have to not get too busy with colours and patterns and shaping but you can’t underwhelm the yarn either.
Alright, there’s your update. Now I have to work on the webpage – what fun on dial up – and then go and feed some lambs.