Our ewes are not going to produce lambs anymore.
We intended on them stopping last year but our ram Dini ( from Houdini!) escaped from his field along with the donkeys and managed to get himself under the fence and into the ewes’ field where he had been longing to be.
On that damp November morning as I went to feed them I was puzzled to discover the donkeys grazing on the wrong side of the fence, by the roadside and Dini wasn’t with them.
It didn’t take me long to realize where he was!
This was over 6 months ago and we have now six gorgeous little lambs full of life jumping around.
Finding a good home for our lambs is getting harder though. Not wanting for them to be eaten, we want to hear that families getting in touch are suitable with enough grazing space and willingness to do whatever it takes to keep those animals happy. Cameroon sheep make great lawn mowers and are easy to befriend and as such they are popular. And unlike ordinary pets, they are happy to be left alone as long as they have the company of other sheep or any other friendly farm animals.
But people phoning are now asking about whether they are wormed and tagged which they are not. Not ours. Worming is counterproductive as it destroys the digestive stomach from good bacteria, and tagging is costly and why would you tag an animal that will spend its life in a paddock at the back of your house? But the French law says so, I am being told. Yes it does, but it doesn’t differentiate between having a few sheep as pets and a commercial flock that will get eaten sooner or later.
So hopefully this year will be the last for lambs here.
But what about Dini? As he was previously a bully to Bichette, we built a shed for him and a fenced area out of the donkeys’ field’s corner. He has a large grazing area just for himself and we must build a chicken pen soon: company for him and fresh organic eggs for us.
A sheep’s life is about 10 years. And when it dies, what happens? Over 40kgs the French law says the animal has to be incinerated. A local company picks the body up for a rather large fee( 260 euros), usually quite a few days later and the whole process is upsetting. Cameroon sheep are at most 40kgs so that means that we can legally deal with their bodies ourselves, and I am pleased with that.
I have just read about something called “humusation” in French and « recomposition » in English. It is a very new practice for us humans, and the Washington State is about to be the first to legalize it:
It is an intelligent alternative to cemetery burial or cremation: When I’ll die, my body will return to the earth by making humus and therefore give life rather than pollute or take a lot of costly space in a cemetery for a long time. The decomposing process will take one year in France:
The Americans have the decomposing process done within one month.
That sounds like something I would definitely be interested in in due time but for now I am happy to think of it for our animals: They will lie on a thick bed of compostable materials and covered with more of it, then protected from being unearthed by other animals which in itself would not be a bad thing if they were eaten rapidly which is highly unlikely here.
A woman we know from the nearby area had rescued a very sick donkey and had successfully brought it back to health but sadly he died a couple of years later from tetanus infection even though he had been vaccinated against it.
The woman was devastated. She had come to love him dearly and the love had been fully reciprocated. Wishing to celebrate her donkey’s life and friendship she built a bonfire over his body in her back garden with her family and said goodbye in her very own personal and emotional way.
I remember thinking how amazing she was for doing that and wishing I would have thought of it when our Galopin died, but it never occurred to me. Now I am thinking “humusation” is a better option. It is the best option.
But for now our lambs are a very pleasing sight. Two weeks ago Dora had called me and given birth in her shed. Dasha, our wild one, gave birth the next morning under a honeysuckle bush, and Diva, one week later, in the afternoon sun a few meters away from her flock and under its watchful eyes…..
Two weeks after giving birth a Cameroon ewe is again on heat, and would produce 2 more babies 6 months later if there was a male around, so Dini had to be taken out and fences reinforced. He is not happy about that but what is the alternative?
Just like donkeys are eating machines, rams are shagging machines.
Geoff dreams of taking him out for walks on a lead but he is not a dog. For now the best thing Geoff does for him is a bit of TLC, grooming him and helping him lose his thick winter wool. The boy loves it.
Our 3 ewes are now hopefully given a rest from producing babies, and we are eating our first cherries and strawberries…..exquisite is a very mild word here.