Calizeala Lamb.jpg

I spotted this branding at the grocery store last winter. What in the world? A product of New Zealand, labeled as “Atkins Ranch- Founded in San Francisco 1989”. COOL seems like a good thing here, preventing defrauding the consumer into believing they are buying a local/domestic product when they aren’t. I can’t figure: are they hoping consumers will just be in a hurry and not notice this discrepancy? Or do they think consumers are that dumb? Are consumers that dumb? Or willing to purchase product that’s so deceptively labeled? If I were shopping for lamb at the store and saw this, it would annoy me and I would buy chicken instead.  (more…)

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I am feeling very nicely caught-up lately. On Sunday, I weighed all the lambs and also vaccinated them. Today after work, I mowed the chicken pen with the tractor. I love how neat and tidy it looks when the grass is short and the fencing is straight and taught. The chickens will enjoy the overturned goodies and new grass growth. You can see how tall the surrounding grass is already. In April, I was hand-wringing about too little forage for grazing when the ewes started lambing. Now, there is too much and it’s starting to seed out. It’s early for this, but the grass is likely somewhat stressed from a drought-ey May, so it decided to push out seed heads already. I’m not thrilled that the sheep are grazing stage III growth, but I’m also reluctant to cut any of it, lest we have more drought and this is my stockpile for the summer. So I’m working with it and the sheep are eating it, though I’m sure it’s not their favorite. It is so challenging to manage the timing of grazing just right. (more…)

Bobtail2.JPGOh, wow, it has been a long time since I have blogged! In the blink of an eye, lambing season has come and gone, and I should write more about that! But today, here are some prized trail cam photos of a sneaky wildcat that lurks on a woodsy trail behind our barn. I’ve been getting blurry half-shots of him for some time, and keep thinking “is that a bobcat?”. But for some reason, the camera doesn’t catch him as easily as it does coyotes, which constantly come and go, and frequently pose for portrait-quality shots. I almost wonder if I’m placing it too high to catch this shorty kitteh?  (more…)

Magnolia

Happy Spring. It’s the start of lambing season here. I’m disappointed in the poor grass growth, it’s been a cold season and the fields are barely ready to graze. Some years, I’ve had sheep in rotation by early March. But not this year. The sheep felt lucky, anyway, bursting out onto fresh grass on March 31st. I’m cringing at a forecast of ten days of rain, which could make for a muddy mess for lamb births. But, thus is the gamble of spring pasture lambing; and lucky I have a hardy breed of sheep.

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I am late working on my taxes and 2017 financial summary. But getting ‘er done. Today I calculated my Lamb Check-off fee and wrote my check. This is the remittance I’m legally obligated to send to the American Lamb Board to cover my slice of the pie of industry promotion. Fortunately for me, my slice of the pie is pretty small.

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NightTie

In contrast to the ease in which Quincy Dog has integrated into our household and farm, I submit to you, dear reader, this P.I.T.A. canine. She is coming up on her two-year-old birthday and is still quite juvenile. One day last fall, I was out doing chores, she had escaped again, and I heard a ruckus near the chickens. She’d caught one that had flown outside their pen. I started chasing her with the ATV and she bolted, chicken in mouth. I finally caught up with her in the tree farm next door. She was laying low, and looked like she was burying the victim. She bolted again and ran for home. I looked and looked for the chicken, but couldn’t find it. I retraced our steps, white feathers marking the trail. It wasn’t dropped anywhere. I drove back to the tree farm and walked the row where I saw her lying down. Only to find the chicken, stuffed head-first down an excavated tree hole. The chicken was relatively unharmed and wound up surviving the ordeal. But I had lost my patience. On a day that this crazy dog let me touch her, I nabbed her, and tied her up to a stake in the ground, like a dog in the seventies.  She was quite sad-faced about this new curtailment.Open-mouthed smile 

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imageI’ve been stressing for a couple of years about a succession plan for our two remaining border collies, Maggie and Gene. They just turned thirteen and fourteen. Though they can still help with farm chores, their endurance is short, they aren’t fast enough to catch renegade sheep anymore, and they pay for it later- sore joints for a day or so. They love it and will want to do it til the day they die. But obviously that’s not practical. Yet, facing getting a replacement dog is also facing that they are getting old and we’ll someday lose them. That’s hard too.

I’d mentally waffled between replacement options. Getting a  young pup has the advantage that they usually bond best and make the best pets and companions. You can train them exactly how you want. Plus, you get the longest useful life out of them. But housebreaking a pup when working full time has its challenges. I didn’t think I’d have the time to put into that, plus also training the pup on sheep. Some border collies aren’t ready to even start working sheep until they are yearlings. I thought about whether I could send it out for training, but sending a housepet to a kennel situation for a month is a little cringe-worthy. Bottom line, a pup would be a big investment.

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