This is a complain-ey post. Sorry. This has been the toughest winter ever. For starters, record rainfall, facilitating mud. Our sacrifice pasture had only partially recovered from the ditch dredging exercise in summer, so likely the grass plants had less water uptake ability, rendering more mud. The engine blew out in our ATV in November, and it spent two months in the shop getting repaired. The tractor had to be used to feed animals instead. It’s heavier, so tears up the ground more; and I have to drive it in a longer path to get to the sheep, tearing up more pasture still. More mud. One time, it popped a tire from struggling through mud, so I had to jack up the tractor and change the wheel, in the mud.
March 14, 2017
March 7, 2017
Is how long it takes for four rams to find five fertile ewes in a group of 120 ewes all circling in chaos. This happened last September, I was doing some chores in the field and driving back and forth between pastures. At one point, I only shut one of a double-gated passage, thinking I was going to go back through there in a few minutes. The mature rams are vigilant and watch my every move when I’m going through gates, and they don’t miss an opportunity. I must not have latched the gate securely, and they pushed it open while I was distracted doing something in the field. I figure they were in there for about twenty minutes before I was able to get a dog and wrangle them all back to where they belonged. Twenty minutes resulting in nine early-bird lambs born at the end of February. (more…)
February 5, 2017
Almost every year I have a ewe or two that delivers an unplanned breeding. Either due to a ram breakout too early in the fall, or perhaps she lost a pregnancy early-on, and re-bred once all the rams were all together with the we group. Often I don’t care who the sire is, I just mark it down as “UNK” (unknown). Then, the lamb either goes to the slaughter channel, or I sell at a discount the mystery ewelambs as 50% recorded ewes.
This time, with those January triplets, I was interested in the parentage. The mother is a good ewe and I’d like to register them. So, I DNA tested them. I already had DNA banked on all my adult rams, and the cost is $18 per lamb to match them up with the appropriate sire. Er, sires.
February 3, 2017
January 24, 2017
What is this trio of eaters eating? Something delectable and delicious?
A hearty bowl of grain? Something sweetened with molasses? A savory bowl of fresh-picked dandelions or morning glory? Concentrated alfalfa pellets?
January 18, 2017
Here we have a growing, learning livestock protection dog pup. A big, growing, learning pup. At first, she was not interested in the sheep. Slowly she started to notice them. Then she started experimenting with interacting with them. This, naturally, is going to manifest in exhibiting puppy-like socialization behavior towards peers: play invites, and attempts to initiate chasing and wrestling. All of which are completely predictable, but obviously not ideal. As you can see, I’ve added some accessories to her wardrobe which help give her feedback that sprinting after sheep is not desirable behavior. One is a 10 foot long heavy drag chain. The other is an 18 inch long stick “dongle”; both attached to her collar.
January 10, 2017
The standard rules of thumb for sheep husbandry are these: a) keep rams in a separate location except for breeding season b) wean lambs at 60 days (or even earlier) c) ensure that ram lambs are removed from ewe groups by 90 days of age and d) use somewhat barbaric methods to get ewes to “dry off” post-weaning, such as withholding water and feeding them straw. I break all of these rules.