Of all my old days on the farm, spring was my favorite time. It seems like we were always having calves be born.
But Spring was the time we had baby lambs. They seemed to always be born during the few hard months at the end of winter. The mother sheep would be lambing right around the end of winter, going into spring.
You had to always stay on top of things when the lambs were being born, so they did not freeze. When the warm weather came, you had to start shearing the old sheep.
Shearing was back-breaking work. We would try to get the sheep in a small area, so it would be easier to get a hold of them. And then set them down on their tail end, so you could control them better. You had to start at the head and work your way around the body, to the end of the sheep.
Then we would bundle up the wool, so we could sell it. That was about the same time we started to remove the tails of the lambs by a system called “docking.” That seems cruel, but it kept them from getting any disease or infection.
Banning the male lamb was a lot of work. Yes, we also used sheep dip. I’m not sure what all was in it, but it smelled like turpentine, was black in color, and stuck to anything.
Flies were a big problem, and sheep dip would keep the flies from bothering them.
The lambs were in the barn until the weather started getting better. Then we would turn them out to pasture.
It was funny to see them, because they would jump stiff-legged straight up in the air. They acted as if they were the King of the Mountain. They jumped up in the feed bunks and ran around like several kids being let out for recess after being locked in the school for a week because of bad weather. They were so funny, running and jumping. They would find a small hill, or a mound of dirt, and push each other off. It was amazing how fast they grew over just the summer months. It was a fun time working with them. They were a big source of entertainment.
I have very fond memories of our farm. At the time, all the work was very daunting, and if I could, I would be very scarce. The work never disappeared. It was always there for you to do. But, I have to say, that the life on the farm was some of my best days ever.
Loren Pool is a retired Delaware County deputy sheriff.