The tough part about bringing in some new sheep is having to part with a few old friends.
When I reserved two new Bluefaced Leicester rams, I knew that Cinder’s days on my farm were numbered. As delightful as he is a companion, he doesn’t have the value of a purebred, registered ram with production records. I can’t risk a giant, powerful $200 ram injuring a taller but lighter $500 ram (or two!). I know that a small flock like mine gives a ram a two year window of work before he has too many relatives in the flock. Despite my connections to many New England shepherds, no one expressed any interest in buying Cinder (a fact which further justified my contention that Cormos do not have adequate breed support and a critical mass of interested breeders).
So what to do with Cinder? Even neutered, he would still be strong enough to continue to divert food from ewes. His wool, while beautiful, would not support his eating habits alone. So Phoebe, Todd, Matt and I loaded him into the truck on Thursday and took him to Vermont Livestock. Like his last move, Cinder is a very reluctant passenger. It took all four of us to push him up a plywood ramp while he counterbraced his legs. Of course, he obediently jumped right out of the truck when we reached the abbatoir. The handful of curious ewes waiting for him in an adjacent pen in the clean, brightly lit “waiting room” probably helped. On May 20th, I’ll be making merguez sausages with the hundred or so pounds of meat that I anticipate from Cinder. Let me know if you’d be interested in some!
Adding to the farewells, I parted with Timberdoodle and Swift yesterday. Due to thesize of my barn, I knew that I would need to pare the Cormo flock down to about six to fit the four ewes coming from New Hampshire in a few weeks. I thought through the ewe requests in my backlog, and remembered that one person was looking for two ewes for a starter flock. I knew that Timberdoodle would do much better on richer pastures. Who could go with her? Peggy is too old and potentially delicate to offer to a beginner. I would like her to live out her life with me. Bobolink and Meadowlark are too dear to me, and Valentine is not friendly enough for beginners. Swift. Her fleece is perfect, and she’s small and a delight to handle. Her little son went with her for additional companionship. Matt and I enjoyed coffee and a homemade-sourdough-bread snack with their wonderful new owners.
So the flock is looking a little sparse for a few days, but we’ll soon be back in business!