Sheep Farming for Rummies

The farm at Lower Dover

In addition to the Jungle Lodge, Lower Dover Field Station boasts a working organic farm with over 20 varieties of mature fruit trees, local vegetables, free range chickens, turkeys, ducks, and guinea hen.

Dan putting the chickens and ducks in for the night.

We don’t claim to be experts in farming, and most of us grew up in the city. However,  what we lack in experience, we compensate in enthusiasm and perseverance. We’ve had our fare share of sheep over the years. Unfortunately for us and them, the sheep have mostly come here to die. All sort of aliments and bad luck have gotten to the sheep, including snake bites, bad feed, and improper worming injections.

In fact, of the 6 sheep that have called Lower Dover home, only 1 remains, B.B. (short for Black Belly) a 1+ year old ewe. As a result, we here at Lower Dover like to joke and call our farming operation “Dead Sheep Farm.”

Disgruntled Rambo

The most recent casualty was “Rambo”, a temperamental ram to say the least. It was not uncommon to hear a yell when the old ram was being led back to his pen. At the sight of the rope, he used to take a running start and knock our watchman Dan Rivera down to the ground. In his final act of glory, Rambo worked his magic with B.B. to produce a yet unnamed 2 month old baby ewe. Name suggestions have included: Ramba, Rambie, Lambie, Lambo, Lambert, Storm, Janet, Tigger, and Spot.  We have already named one sheep Carne but that didn’t end up very well…

BB and her newborn lamb.

This lamb needs a name.

We welcome name suggestions from our followers.

Needless to say, we were fed up with our lack of success in raising sheep so we decided to get a bit more serious, and improve conditions.

First we rebuilt the sheep’s pen to eliminate the thatch roofing. We had recently come to find out that the thatch housed some rats that were stealing feed, baby chickens and ducks . We replaced it with a zinc roof, which is too hot for the rats, and doesn’t have any space for them to hide. We placed wired mesh along the top the pen to keep the sneaky turkeys from eating all the sheep feed.

The new sheeps pen.

All of the beams used in construction were cut from hardwood Nargusta trees that had been knocked down during the 2010 hurricane season. The side paneling was made from recycled cedar strips that we got for free at the local saw mill. The only things purchased for this phase were roofing nails, second hand zinc, and a 1/2 roll of chicken wire. Approximate cost for this phase $150BZ or $75US.

Sheep at Dennis's Farm

For phase 2, we decided that it would be a good idea to get some fresh sheep genes in the mix. We went to go see Dan’s nephew Dennis, who runs the Rivera family farm near El Pilar / Guatemala border. After careful consideration, we selected two more ewes, bringing our total to 4 females.

Dan and Dennis roping in the new sheep.

Dan lassoed the one’s we wanted, and Dennis weighed them on the spot by hanging them from their legs on a scale attached to a nearby tree. $3BZ ($1.50US) per pound for a live sheep is the going local rate.

Dennis weighing the sheep.

We placed the two sheep in the back of the pickup, and traveled back to Lower Dover to acclimate them too their new farm. Approximate cost for phase: 2 $200BZ or $100US.

New Sheep ready for transport.

Finally, being inspired by Dennis’s sheep pasture, we decided to make our own fenced pasture to allow the sheep to graze full time. 60 sapodilla posts($7BZ each) and 500 feet of sheep wire($140BZ per roll) later, the final product was complete. Approximate cost for phase 3: $800BZ or $400US.

New Sheep Pen Fence.

In the end this project ended up costing $1,150BZ or $575US. Hopefully these upfront costs can be recouped by eliminating the need for corn feed, as the sheep can now graze on grass all day long. We also hope this will make for happier sheep. Happy sheep make more sheep; all we need now is Rambo II or “Sangre Primo” as Dan is sure to call him.

BB and baby much happier in their new pen.

Now the name “Dead Sheep Farm” can hopefully be put to rest with the demise of Rambo I, and we can start spawning sequels faster than Stallone can make them!

The new sheep happy in their new pen.

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3 thoughts on “Sheep Farming for Rummies

  1. Pingback: Contest: Name the Sheep at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge | Lower Dover Field Journal

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