2020 Review

     2020 was the plague year of covid 19.  There were almost no shows anywhere and scant interest in buying  sheep  except from those planning for the future.  Fortunately, Graeme and Paula were covidgilant ; so,  the essential Graeme never missed a day here.  One learning experience from this year of continuing climate breakdown was the time in July when a ewe lamb wasn’t eating, had a temp of 105.5.  She was still 104 next day after antimicrobial treatment.  Another one or two were off feed that day. They had high temps that didn’t respond to Rx either.  We checked every lamb in the group; they were all febrile, many over 104.  Most were behaving  normally.  Long story short, we decided they must be hyperthermic due to ambient temperatures.  Our shearer, Colin Siegmund, raced over to shear all the lambs.  Lambs’ temps were  normal next day. 

     Books say that sheep in full fleece should not suffer in hot weather  if  they have plenty of shade and plenty of water,  as ours did. This experience made us doubt that wisdom.  It was hotter than we’d realized.  Across the mid-Atlantic states July 2020 broke the 125-year record for average daily temperature.  The fleeces in July were of course of shorter staple length than they would have been later; on the other hand if they’d stayed on there would have been wool break.  We’ll plan to shear the 2021 lambs in late spring, anticipating another very hot summer.  The 2020 cohort is now off  schedule for  the  twice-a year shearing we usually do with al the sheep except over age one year.  They will be shorn in May.