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Greg Judy failures by TJ

 
pollinator
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I am a huge Greg Judy fan. He has been more instrumental in my development than anyone else. But one thing you seldom see is how painful getting from zero to productive can be. That is the position I am in right now.

The beginning sheep flock is sort of a test run. I figure if its just a huge pain I can butcher them and do something else, but I am really trying to stick it out.

Greg says you have to get a flock that works for you. You cannot work for your flock. Part of that is training them to the electric fence, and culling the ones that don't comply. Today is that day, which sucks. We have one adventurous lamb who then gets followed by the main group, it is now a regular event. I haven't seen it happen yet (always just a few minutes from witnessing the event) but I think I know which one it is, and it is not a particularly high performer anyway- the smallest and holding onto its coat the longest. So this one is going to go with mint sauce tonight when the temp is not >90F.

Greg says this is necessary and pays off in the end. I trust you Greg! Freaking sucks today, I am totally bummed. Culling psychologically is also admitting failure on your initial selection process.
 
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TJ, you're experiencing the really "hard" part of farming. Often it's necessary, sometimes it's smart, and occasionally there are ways around it.

First I would remember that any time two creatures procreated it is a "gene splicing experiment. No matter how well you have, or "think you have" chosen the parents, the outcome may be the combination of the best of the best or the marginal of the marginal features, so please don't beat yourself up by thinking of it as "your" mistake. I have the same problem with plants - the ruthlessness required to cull the ones that are marginal often escapes me even though I know intellectually that it should be done!

Second, in this case you've identified several reasons that the sad job should be done. If it were just that personality-wise the youngster was not a good fit for your management system, selling or even giving away the lamb might be an option. One year my husband was convinced to get a certain breed of chickens because the day-olds he wanted weren't available. He has a specific way he looks after his "business chickens", and this breed was not suitable and the results weren't good. A friend often had that breed and in her system they did well and she sought them out. However, in the case of the lamb, you've identified other characteristics that concern you, so for the good of the "gene pool", culling is the responsible approach.

Third, accepting in yourself that what you need to do is "hard but possible" is a good thing. "Pretending" it doesn't hurt is not the emotionally healthy thing to do. When Hubby presented me with a duck that had suffered from an eagle attack that was clearly beyond my capacity to save but was still clearly alert, having to do the "responsible" thing and put her out of her misery was not something I'd have chosen. All I could do was admit to her and myself that I didn't want to do this, but it was better than a slow death from infection. Honoring an animal whose life you must take is not a bad thing. Please don't pretend it doesn't hurt!

Forth, I try to make sure that I balance the "hard parts" with the "joyful parts". You need to remove a lamb, but maybe you can spend a few minutes choosing a spot where you'd like a tree or shrub today and dig a hole for it and compost in place the parts you can't make use of. Add extra compostable material all summer and by the fall tree planting window, you may have some good dirt there!  

Hang in there... Jay
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
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That’s a good idea and thanks for it. Maybe I should just Craigslist the problem lamb. She might be fine in another system.

On the other hand I want my kids to understand the nature of the enterprise, and I want to experience the crappy days as they are, not how I want them to be. I’m not impressed with the performance of this particular animal anyway compared with the others, and part of good husbandry is not passing off bad animals to another breeder.

I’m genuinely torn because it’s a nice animal, friendly but doesn’t work here and maybe should be out of the gene pool.
 
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I usually cull with a happy heart.  I'm making more room and grass for the animals that perform.  As a side note, old ewes taste just fine as long as they are in good condition, which they usually are after not breeding for 2 cycles (my limit for non-production).  

Many moons ago, when I butchered my first sheep, it was my first animal ever.  No one told me about the reflexive kicking.  I felt absolutely awful about it and felt I had done a poor job with the kill.  This went on for several days, until we cooked and ate the first piece of homegrown lamb, then everything was fine!  I think your mint sauce will make everything better!
 
pollinator
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Perhaps this would be an ideal "4H" lamb? It sounds personable, and with one on one care it may thrive...
 
Tj Jefferson
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Well make a long story short, we are keeping the lamb and using nets again. We can’t get replacements right now because apparently there has been a run on sheep as people decide to get the f out of the cities. Can’t say I blame them but it’s annoying because I either have to drop down to a few sheep which isn’t worth rotating since I think there may be another who learned the behavior (we really need about 4x the current stocking density) or I just have to suck it up and keep them in nets for a
While and hope they forget. Then back to three wires, then back to two.

I also found out in the first escape I made a line that wasn’t hot. Normally I run a jumper to electrify any lines not connected to the charger but I was rushing to get the move done so I could do another project that someone was helping me with. The next escape was just garden variety, they had figured it out by then. They had two days of “field day” so as not to further reinforce the behavior and then into the net. They absolutely won’t challenge the net they learned that when they were little.

4H would be an option but normally they get weaned lambs. Plus at this rate our state government is not going to approve county and state fairs or even meetings. My understanding is that the clubs are basically shut down. My kids do FFA and nothing is happening.

I am going to try to retrain the flock. It could be a mistake but I’m giving it a try.
 
I don't like that guy. The tiny ad agrees with me.
BWB second printing, pre-order dealio (poor man's poll)
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