It’s been a great run of warm, dry weather, from spring all the way up until now. Though not so great for grass and hay growing, it’s made for an easy summer and fall for outdoor chores. One chore that I’d procrastinated on that really needed doing was to scrape in front of my pasture hay troughs. There was several years’ accumulation of straw, hay, and manure; to the point where the sheep were starting to have to lean down to reach the hay in the troughs, rather than reach up. I really should have done this chore in August when it was bone dry, but somehow it slipped in priority.

Until now, when I realized, if I let another winter go by, the accumulation would overwhelm the troughs. So I decided to squeeze it in on one of the last dry days last weekend. But, it took longer than expected, so I ended up working on it two more weeknights after work in the dark, by headlamp. After it rained. It was a mud skating rink, which made the chore more slow-going, since the tractor couldn’t get much traction.  It made much more of a mess than I wanted. But, I got it done, at least reasonably well. This weekend, I laid down a lot of straw, to start the accumulation process all over again, of giving the sheep clean footing. They’ll mash it into the mud, I’ll add more. Hopefully next August I’ll be more diligent about getting it scraped on time!

Now begins the season of rain and mud. This weekend we had a flood threat, it poured down rain for a couple of days. It actually did flood the low pastures near town, but was far short of a dike-overtop, so we were in the clear. It still means I watch the gauge a lot, ready for a big sheep maneuver if need be.

I got my rams and wethers weighed this weekend. I had been annoyed at myself for reserving butcher dates late, which meant I didn’t get an October one. But, just as well, I barely have enough rams heavy enough to make my first date in November. The curtailed grass season, as well as me being a little late getting that group de-wormed a second time, and also knocking back their coccidia later than I could have, meant that the whole group took a bit of a growth hit. But, I’ll definitely have a lot ready in December, and most of the rest by January. I have quite a few intact rams, and that’s fine, I’ll keep marketing some as breeders, then whatever doesn’t sell can go into the butcher channel. I still have that group grazing green grass on our hillside, but I’m also now giving them a full ration of hay to make sure they are taking in enough. I am also starting to offer them a bit of corn-barley, just to keep them on the grow heading into winter. The last thing you want in a butcher animal is one that’s starting to lose weight, rather than gain, as it can affect meat taste and tenderness.

I had started to feed hay way back in July, just after my “winter hay” was delivered. I went through enough that I knew I’d run out by spring. So I ordered another load. I’m already watching with anxiety as that one dwindles quickly, hoping we have an early spring so I make it up on the back end. I will also take advantage of the neighbor’s Halloween pumpkin crop, which as of today, is now surplus. I actually do have some nice grass right now. Our Reed Canarygrass  field is still growing well,  so I’ve been pushing the ewes on that, only giving them a partial ration of hay, to insist that they balance their diet with RCG. They don’t prefer it, so I think they’d only eat hay if there was enough available.

Our far field has a nice new set of growth, I’ll take advantage of that starting next week by putting a breeding group out there. This weekend was also spent getting ready for breeding season. I set up Elecronet and three-wire, which will hopefully keep my three breeding groups separate and where I want them. I have my breeding pairings all managed in a spreadsheet and printed out, ready to sort. Next week, it’s time to start the cycle all over again!