The sheep herd
We decided to follow some of the other planters and start a sheep herd to help with the agave weeding. The plan was also to sell the lambs for Organica Maya to move into the black in the coming years as the agave project is 7-10 years long for each crop. We were very lucky in that Pedro Ugarte, who sold us these two pieces of land, had managed a good sized sheep herd in Guatamala. He came on board to help us buy the initial 100 ewes, train our 2 new Mayan shepherds, instruct us how to build the corrals and shelters for the sheep, vaccinate and de-worm the sheep, buy a registered high-quality ram and many more things needed to run a sheep business. So we started with 90 ewes, had some problems as we found out that the sheep are quite fragile and so we are learning what they need to stay healthy. The herd is about 150 and the plan is to grow the herd to 500-600 sheep.
First we repaired an old corral which included making gates and building a shed for the sheep to have protection from the elements.
Next Pedro installed a hand pump well of his own unique design into the cenote so there was water available for the sheep and the shepherds.
Then the Susula palapa, which is right next to the corral, was repaired for our two new shepherds to live near the corral of sheep. The sheep have to be protected, especially at night.
Pedro starting buying the sheep and training the shepherds.
Later we went to the Tizimin fair with Pedro and bought a registered 1 year old ram to improve the quality of the herd. He comes from a breeding company called Chan Hugo and that is what we named him. He has been working hard for most of the last 9 months. There are also 2 other rams.
Then Pedro designed partitions in the corral to segregate the sheep into ewes with their lambs, the rams and other groups.
Here we are tagging the lambs to keep track of when they are born, their mothers, their weight and sex, etc.
Then we started fencing in one field next to the corral for the ewes and newborn to eat, once the lambs were safe enough to be out. Then we fenced in all the fields so the sheep could be contained, not wander off into the forest and to keep dogs from town out of the area.