The majority of the market lambs were loaded out and sold the other day. This is usually a bittersweet day for me. On one hand, it is nice to see the results of a year’s work and to reduce some of the work load. On the other hand, I always feel sad about letting these guys go.
While the lambs are here, I know they are living a good life. They have access to feed, clean water, space to move around, they are healthy and if they do get sick, they are given the proper medicine. Once they leave the yard, I am no longer certain of what the conditions they will be living in.
I spend hours looking after these lambs, sometimes sacrificing sleep, my own health, or time with family and friends in order to make sure that the animals are OK. It is hard for me to then let them go, unsure if the next person will be that committed to these animals.
After I selected my replacement ewe lambs, I found myself disconnecting from these lambs. I would drive through the pasture, checking for problems in a somewhat superficial way, feed the dogs, and leave. I couldn’t look too closely because then I would second guess myself – that one looks nice, why didn’t I keep her? Even though I knew perfectly well I had looked very closely, considered both her genetics and her appearance, and there was a reason I didn’t keep her. And that I had already kept more replacements than I had originally planned.
I know I don’t want to start keeping all the lambs to butcher, as that would be another job on our already full plates and not one I would particularly enjoy. So there’s not really any other options for these lambs. The best I can do is to focus on trying to do the best job I can of looking after these lambs while they’re in my care, and do all I can to set them up to do well wherever they end up.