Sunday Homestead Update – Winter To-Do

We have been very busy lately.  Usually, winter is a time of rest and planning – a slowing down of life for a few months.  Like these two:

Not so for us this year.  I have been so busy with other stuff that I still haven’t gotten around to the garden and curriculum planning I usually do in January, nor the sewing projects to get our clothing caught up.  I have barely made any progress on any of my heritage arts projects.  Oh well, just keep doing the next thing on the list.  I will get to it all eventually.

A big chunk of our time has been spent on house remodel projects.  But around the farm, this is what we have been doing…

Lambing Season

Lambing season is fast approaching for our homestead.  Our breedings this year were all very different timing than we usually do, for many reasons.  Our first two ewes are due mid-February.  They are starting to build their udders, and both are looking round.  We had recently sheared Freya because she is a long wool.  So, since she was shorn already, she didn’t need our typical 6-weeks-before-due-date shearing.  And because these lambs are due so early in the year, and thus it is still very cold, we decided we didn’t want to fully shear Daisy yet, due to the stress it could cause her in the cold.  So we just “crotched” her, which means we sheared around her back end, and around her udder.  This will help keep her from having birthing mess all stuck in her back-end wool which could potentially cause her skin issues.  It will also make sure the lamb(s) can easily find her udder and don’t end up sucking on wool tags and such.

At six weeks out we also start slowly increasing their feed intake – transitioning them over to alfalfa from grass hay, and eventually, as we get closer to lambing, giving them some grain too.  So we started that process.  This week was 4 weeks out, so they each got their dose of CD&T vaccine.

Since we aren’t 100% sure on the due dates, just to be safe, we moved the ram to the back pen and moved Daisy and Freya up front so we can see them easily and so they can sleep in the birthing jugs.  This will also make it easier to feed them their end-of-pregnancy rations while the rest of the ewes get regular rations.  Moving the ram officially ends our breeding season.  We are not sure if the youngest ewe, Nora, got pregnant or not.  But the rest did.

It is hard to believe we are less than 4 weeks from our first lambs of the year!  There are still things that need to be done to prepare, and we will get to those in the coming weeks.

Cheesemaking

One thing I want to get more done on before lambing is using the frozen sheep milk from last year for cheesemaking.

I have been working through the freezer the last several weeks, and have about 5 more batches of cheese I can make.  I would like to get at least 3 of them done before the ewes lamb, because we are planning to milk both ewes, so once they lamb we will have more milk to work with, and I don’t want the frozen amounts to get out of control.

I am finally really starting to get the hang of the ins and outs of sheep cheese.  A lot of the cheese I made in the beginning was good flavor, but very dry.  It is understandable, since sheep milk is so different from other milks, that it would take time to work out the exact recipes.  This last batch we just opened up was just right and not too dry at all.  So I am happy about that.  I will continue to learn the art, and science, of making good sheep cheese.

Pruning Time

It is also time to prune the berry bushes and grape vines.  Mtn Man has been working on that this week.

Always plenty to do!

 

I better get back to work…or maybe I will just curl up with this guy…

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