@jawzx2 Wow! Thank you for the completeness of your reply. Hit all points and as busy as you are, I appreciate this all the more.
When you first mentioned stirring, I saw an Arduino controlled MOSFET to control power to a drill with the trigger ziptied. This is a lot more elegant and cost effective. 🙂 Particularly since you already had the parts and know-how.
Old Jewish fellow introduced me to 3d machines (engraving) about '80. He had a sign on his desk that has stuck with me ever since. "If you want a good job done quickly, give it to a busy man." You seem to embody that spirit.
@akioohtori it's still going on. Out to put some more colostrum in the lambs from ol' notch ear, and make sure the lambs from #130 (new mom) have figired out the eating thing, and if not, give them a few ounces of the colostrum too. Will probably check them again at 2-2:30am before I go to sleep.
@facw I grew up in an agricultural area and two things they taught us, as heartless as it sounds, were don't become attached to the animals. And the old saying "You can't grill it if you don't kill it" Brutal, but true.
@dipodomysdeserti They are smart. We usually get a couple from the local packs sniffing too close to the barn in spring... We shoot to injure with high brass #7 shot from a 20ga. It may sound cruel, and others may complain "why don't you just kill the bastards?" but the truth is: dead dogs tell no tales, but one who's had a couple peices of shot embedded in his ass tells all his friends to stay away from the place it happened.
@jawzx2 Awesome. I’ve witnessed natural childbirth on several occasions and it’s interesting to see the commonalities. Many humans currently experience issues with suckling on account of our mouth physiology slowly changing along with physiological mutations.
Of course you definitely don’t want a human vagina to prolapse, but I’m sure it happens!
Re: sheep#s) we use a fairly intensive rotational grazing management style, and what it mostly comes down to is how many sheep we can rotate in a group successfully. Over 100 head we start to just have too many groups for two people to effectively rotate while still being able to do other work, like haying and maintenance and marketing and distribution. If we were to make larger groups and rotate less frequently, we could probably still handle 200-300 with just the two of us, but then we start having to deal with issues due to the larger groups and less frequent rotations, mostly parasite related. In the UK, where they have no predator issues, and flocks are still run hefted on thousand+ acre public lands, some farms are running upwards of 600 head with only occasional hired help for things like shearing and weaning, but it's a much different style of production, and the breeds involved are more self sufficient (and physically smaller) than our large Bluefaced and Border Leicesters. The BFLs and Borders are both "large" sheep breeds, and unlike the western range sheep popular in the US and Canada they also produce a high quality wool (they also taste better). In order to do both, they require significantly more inputs in the form of nutrition and care than the small UK types or the coarse-wooled Western types. It's a trade off, but it offers us the highest degree of diversification potential from a single animal type. It's nice that the BFLs are a rare breed in North America, and quite valuable as live breeding stock as well.
Edit: additional un-required but interesting info)
The mountain flocks in New Zealand are mostly descended from UK Border Leicesters and are still called as such, but at this point the UK, US (and Canada), and New Zealand border standards are so divergent from one another that prefixing them with thier origin is pretty much required. They are no longer really much like one another any more and can't be considered the same breed. US borders are much like the UK borders of 100+ years ago, a large dual purpose sheep of modest self-sufficiency. The UK borders have gone rather extreme in the looks department as they fell out of popular production use. UK borders are a rare breed now, and are not particularly good at anything but looking unique these days (seriously, google them...) New Zealand borders are closer to the smaller UK hill sheep now. They have OK wool, but not quite as nice as the US type, and are slightly smaller and more independent than them as well.
In Australia major producers are typically running hair sheep these days and have mostly given up on wool production entirely. Those that are still in the wool business are often running Merinos or merino-crosses of some type. The merino is renowned for it's fine wool, and is originally from Spain. The very fine wool of merinos absorbs and traps water and they do very poorly in climates other than dry, hence them working out OK in Australia. In our New England climate, merinos grow algae and bacteria in thier wool, which not only ruins the wool, but also can cause a host of problems for the sheep. Merinos are still farmed some here, but they must be given access to a barn in order to get out of the rain, or else they are not worth having. Merinos are large-framed sheep, but under thier wool they tend to be a bit skinny and wiry. Merinos are largely responsible for "lean Australian lamb" and it's perception of lower quality in Europe and North America.
Re food:) one thing this pandemic has made abundantly clear is the fragility of centralized profit-maximized animal husbandry (and agriculture in general). The system operates on a knife edge in the name of profit and efficiency, which means it has little or no capacity to absorb or translate emergency situations. Feeding people is important, and should be a robust industry capable of changing quickly if needed, and we're hoping this event helps strengthen small, nimble farms like ours.
@mrsboostaddict Deciding when to retire a sheep, eh? Sounds like a tough decision indeed. Especially if you're not confident on their replacement. But animal husbandry isn't easy yet you seem to be making a very good go of it. Please keep us updated, I really enjoy these sheep posts.