I wondered about sheep care when I took on the school’s farm as a project. I mean, my sole experience with sheep was my friend Catharine’s hobby farm over the state line from the Twin Cities: Cricket, Ada and Lulu were fairly skittish, and didn’t take to much headscratching and pats, at least compared to Billy, Violet and Annabel, her goats. They pooped, they made noise and looked vaguely pastoral.
These two? Very friendly. Very much in the vein of most domesticated animals I know. They see you, call out to you, kind of saying “you have food for me? Food? Food? Food for me?….No? Well I am off then.” The duties are pretty light: a flake of hay and water in the morning, then the afterschool kids give them another flake in the afternoon. The shearing and hoofcare are taken on by their summer pasture people (the head of an Ag department at a local college).
I got 18 eggs from our raw-milk lady, hoping that at least 6 were fertile and female. They are in an incubator (with egg turner) in the lobby of the school. Friday, I took them out of the egg turner so they are now sitting in the incubator, their shells marked with an X on one side and an O on the other. They take 21 days to hatch…but, like human pregnancy, I am not sure if that is 21 days since they were laid or 22. Either way, they’re due to break shell this weekend. I hope at least somebody hatches; the kids have excitedly watched on their progress, and I will of course be to blame if they don’t.
We intend to keep 6 laying hens for the kids to care for over the school year. I kind of disagreed with the timetable, as it gets mighty cold here and the chicks won’t be fully feathered (winterized) for 2-3 months. A chick’s calendar is not the academic one, though. We’ll see. All in the name of education. It won’t be a bad life, really, for either the chicks or the sheep.