My wife and I went to the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival yesterday. While there, she decided that she was ready to buy a couple of sheep. I gave in and told her that it would be okay as long as we could wait to take possession of the sheep until a month or so down the road...
Awesome! I've been wanting sheep for four years! ... Crap! I'm not ready!
We've been planning on getting sheep for more than four years. We've purchased books on raising sheep, talked to flock owners, gone to livestock shows... Believe it or not, we've prepared ourselves the right way. The only hold-up has been my insistence that we wait until our pastures are in tip-top condition. As of this moment, some are in decent condition while others are not. I have been creating pastures from blocks of old vineyard - removing wire, cutting down the grape stumps, and mowing over them. It works pretty well, but it takes a few years for the grass to fill-in (and choke out all of the weeds). I had hoped for another full year before we bought any sheep. Now I have about one month. To top it off, the pasture/grazing specialist at my local extension office - a man for whom I have great respect - has moved on to bigger and better things. A visit from him might have helped put me at ease.
I'm not stressing because we don't know what we've gotten into - we know exactly what we've gotten into. We bought the breed of sheep that we decided upon four years ago from the farm that we decided upon two years ago. I'm stressing because now - as I begin to look at things like removing poisonous plants from my pastures - I'm seeing how imperfect my pastures are.
Most sources indicate that sheep will avoid poisonous plants unless they have nothing else to eat. Unfortunately, that gives me little comfort. Though the core pastures are in pretty good shape, it still scares the hell out of me. I'm afraid that the only remedy for my fear is having healthy sheep after a couple of years of grazing...
I guess that getting livestock is like having children: you might as well do it now because there will never be a perfect time.
God save the sheep.