The weather is beautiful and the sounds of spring are here: birds chirping, squirrels running around and spring showers. Kiowa County farmers Gail and Gary Jorgensen add the cries of newborn lambs to their ususal sounds of spring. This spring, the Jorgensens welcomed 23 new babies into the world, joining 29 healthy young lambs that were born in the fall.
“Springtime is always the time for new growth of all plants and birth of young livestock,” said Gail. “Lambs are always so active and absolutely love to run, race, jump, it's hilarious.”
The goal at Jorgensen’s Farm is for ewes to give birth unassisted, but they are under close observation by Gail or Gary, who give assistance if needed through the month of April. After about two weeks, lambs begin eating pellets and alfalfa, along with milk from their mom. Their lambing season usually lasts about six weeks, and just finished up on Friday.
The couple raises about 40 ewes, most of which are the Dorset breed, although Gary said they are getting back into Shropshires, which with Gail’s family has a long history. Both breeds originated in the British Isles. The Jorgensens’ lambing percentage is down this spring, which can partly be contributed to yearlings lambing for the first time. They raise for a niche market that includes selling stock to people adding to their own flocks, just getting into the sheep business, or looking for proven rams to use for breeding.
The Jorgensens live southwest of Greensburg and have five grown children. Gail was raised on a sheep and dairy farm in Wisconsin. When she and Gary met in college he thought he should take an interest in the raising and showing of sheep since it was such a big part of Gail’s life. Agriculture has been an integral part of their lives ever since.
“[Production agriculture] might be hard and definitely has its challenges and discouragements. Every person involved with animal agriculture will attest to that,” said Gary. “But with the challenges and discouragements comes the rewards of new life, watching a healthy flock grow, and ultimately helping others get started or better their flocks by providing quality breeding stock.”
And there is the joy of watching healthy lambs take their first breath, stand up, learn to run and scamper across spring pens.