Two days after our fencing was complete, and while we were still enjoying the new thrill of watching our sheep out grazing the pasture, we all left for the evening, and returned late that night. Next morning HWA commented that he could only see 5 lambs. This isn’t unusual – if one gets behind the others it is difficult to pick it out from the crowd, so I wasn’t alarmed, certain that all of them must be there. After all, one of them wouldn’t wander away from the flock.
However, after finishing my coffee, when glances out the window continued to reveal only 5, I decided to take the dogs and walk the pasture, to relieve my mind that we didn’t have an injured lamb out there somewhere. Shortly after starting out, I noticed one of the dogs very intent on a spot in the middle of the pasture so I joined her, and the sight was not pretty. All that was left of the missing lamb was 3 legs and a pelt picked so clean it looked as though it had been professionally cleaned. Even the flies weren’t showing a lot of interest.
Sickened by the loss, HWA and I walked the fence to try to figure out how they – the work couldn’t be anything other than a pack of coyotes – had gained entry, and it didn’t take long to find it. While abutting our new fence to the back of the lagoon fence, the contractors had left a gap approximately 10” wide. Our dogs had no problem walking through it, and as they are about coyote-sized, we didn’t have to look much further. HWA found a piece of plywood in the shop that fit the gap perfectly, wired it in, and then we held our breaths for a few weeks, hoping that had solved our problem. If it hadn’t – or if they found a different entry point – we knew they would be back. After all, an easy source of food doesn’t come by every day.
Fortunately, our losses ended there and, months later, we still have the remaining 5 lambs. Mid-summer we added a ram. The original plan had been to butcher all 6 lambs before winter but we decided it is more cost effective to keep the 2 ewes and add a ram so we can make our own lambs next year, than to buy new stock every spring. That leaves only the 3 wethers to butcher which will be easier on our limited freezer space anyway.