Maine Fiber Frolic 2017 Poster
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To Flush or Not to Flush

This has nothing to do with the john! It’s about breeding ewes. OK — this is one of those “big sigh moments” that most shepherds don’t even think about ever thinking about because it’s unthinkable! I’ve been giving serious thought to not breeding the ewes this season. I know, I know…it really is unthinkable. But when I think about spending more time on fiber work and getting some of those half-baked projects done in the house…it’s exciting! I mean…who lives with gaping holes in the bathroom ceiling for over 2 years? It worries me that I’ve begun to not notice them anymore! There’s a very long to-do list around here. It’s going to take time that we don’t usually have to get these things done. And then I think about how much I’ll miss seeing the lambs racing around in the paddocks…ugh! I’m angsting over this. Will have to decide pretty soon because it’s just about time to start flushing the ewes. So what is “flushing” anyway? It’s what we do about a month or so before breeding to get the ewes into really good condition. We want them to be on a rising plain of nutrition because they’re then more likely to drop mutiple eggs to be fertilized (producing multiple lambs), they’re more likely to settle (stay pregnant) and when they’re in good condition, they generally have an uneventful pregnancy & lambing. Not unlike humans! So how do we flush the ewes? If we’ve thought ahead and stockpiled some super nice pasture, we can turn them out onto that. If not, we can supplement them with an appropriate feed that’s more nutritious than they’re already eating. This could be a high quality alfafa hay or grain such as corn or barley. Comparing this to planting a garden, this is similar to amending┬áthe soil. You want to make sure the soil will support the germination and growth of the plant.

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