BuckskinYesterday I trimmed sheep hooves. I love working outside and getting dirty- so dirty then when you shower afterwards, the water runs with mud even before you get out the soap. It was sunny and hot. I sunburned a bit, staying out longer than I had planned with no sunscreen on. We’ve had so little sun this summer that sunscreen isn’t yet back in my morning habit!

Halfway through, a neighbor stopped by and we chatted for a while. Maggie, who was already hot from working, disappeared into a drainage ditch to cool herself, waiting like an alligator until I needed her again. Just as soon as I walked back to the ewes still waiting in a pen for their maintenance, she came sloshing out and pushed them into the corner for me again. I couldn’t do without her!

I used to have Maggie just bunch the ewes up in a corner and I’d work on them one by one, keeping track in my mind of which ones were done. Now that’s getting hard. So I moved them all into the channel and penned them in the small  space between the two fields. As I worked on each sheep, I kicked out out the gate into the channel, so I could keep track of how many were left undone. Maggie kept the queue of waiting sheep bunched for me. This worked well.

I am pleased with their hoof health, it’s much better than last summer when almost all the sheep were struggling with footrot. I still have three ewes with serious trouble, but the rest of the sheep were in good shape, so I think I’m on the right track with my mineral feeding, and just need to do more tweaking.

I have made up a new system to keep track of foot health. I used to type notes into my Palm on every sheep. But now that’s taking too much time. So instead I note a “custom event” called “ht” for “hoof trim” and I put a score, 1 through 4, after it to remind myself how bad or good the feet were. I’m going back through my database and translating all my notes into this system. This will help me tell at a glance of the event history what a particular sheep’s foot trend is, as well as see overall trends in the flock. I wish I could dump out a report and analyze it in Excel, but my Ranch Manager software doesn’t yet have such a feature.

06_23_SheddingSome of the sheep were a little late to shed this year since  the weather has been cool. #KRK33 sported this shoulder shawl until the last days of June before it finally peeled off.

Shaggy_06_23 I had been giving Shaggy sheep some extra time to shed, and indeed a lot of her shag was coming off. She is #33’s daughter. But there was some persistent wool on her backline that though loose, was just too entangled to free itself. So I trimmed it with some blade shears. It only took me a couple of minutes to clean her up, as the rest of her body sports proper short hair.

But still, having to do any wool maintenance at all is not desirable. I’m still waffling on keeping her or not. Her lamb is a shedder, as are her sisters and parents, so she’s some kind of odd throwback. She is a good ewe otherwise, and I’m considering doubling my flock size again this fall. So she might get to stay just because it’s easier to keep her than to buy a ewe to replace her.

Here’s what she looked like post-trimming, with her daughter on the other side of the gate hoping to rejoin her mama. ShaggyAfter