Michael has been wanting to purchase sheep. We have spent time researching and learning about the different breeds. On Saturday morning, Michael and a friend were heading out to go to several farms that had sheep for sale. I decided that I wanted to tag along. The first farm was more of a hobby farm that raised exotic animals for petting zoos. Although it was very fun to see all the exotic animals, it was not a place to purchase sheep for our needs.
The next farm we went to was a great educational experience. We showed up unannounced, but they were very gracious to show us around and give us information. The man escorted us into the field that had 30 ewes that were for sale. He said that 28 of the 30 had been bred. I was really wanting to know how he knew which ones had been bred, but I decided that I would ask my husband when we got home. I am tired of opening my mouth and showing my ignorance of farming around experienced farmers. I noticed that all of the ewes had a large spray painted orange mark on their back. I figured that they were marked to designate which ones were for sale. (I was wrong). I saw the ram and he was wearing a harness. It looked like something you would attach a leash to in order to lead him around the pasture. I decided that it would be an appropriate question to ask about the harness. After all, we might need to purchase a harness to lead our ram around the field with too. Once I asked the question, this nice gentleman farmer got that sly grin on his face. Ughh..somehow I had asked a question that showed my complete ignorance of sheep. He told me in a very kind way that it was the marker for the ewes. I was confused and decided that since I had already showed my ignorance I should just go for the whole ball of wax and ask yet another question. I opened my mouth and asked a marker for what???? He then explained sheep breeding to me. (Oh, why didn't I just ask my husband ALL of my questions at home in private)!!! He explained that the harness contains a paint pack. He drew my attention to the color of the pack in the front of the harness. It was the same color as the mark on the ewe. When the ram breeds with the ewe, he also paints her back. This is the way he knew which of the 30 ewes had been bred. I smiled back at the kind man and said well, now you have answered the question that I really wanted to ask.
He and his wife spent time giving us a lot of great information. We will be going back next Saturday to pick up 10 ewes. Yes, according to the large paint spot on their back they should all be pregnant. They are due to lamb in June.
There has been some questions about selling sheep and goats in Tennessee without having a scrapie tag. I asked the sheep farmer about the law, and she told me that the new law says that as long as the sheep are sold for meat before the age of 18 months old the new law doesn't apply. I am still not for sure of all the ends and outs, but it is something that we are investigating. We will keep you posted as we find out more information.
grace and peace,