Livestock


SydellAn acquaintance of mine retired from sheep, and I was so pleased to be able to buy her Sydell sorting system at a discount. I have wanted one of these systems for a while, but the price for a new one, plus shipping, is staggering. A used system is much more practical to afford. I was finally able to go pick up all  the pieces last spring, but procrastinated putting it together all summer, partly due to analysis paralysis of how I wanted to put it together. The system I got came with a sorting “tub”, a guillotine gate, a slider gate, two sections of straight chutes, a “Spin Doctor” turn table, a sorting gate, an anti-backup stop, and a scale that is not of Sydell’s design. There is some decision making needed on the order in which to place all the elements.

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MySplintThis year, I bought a used Sydell sheep sorter from a friend who retired from sheep. It holds promise of being able to do all sorts of chores- sorting, vaccinating, hoof trimming, weighing and the like, all in Temple Grandin gentle style… But it will take some fine-tuning and training before we achieve the desired level of graceful flow. I’ll write more about my lessons-learned on the overall design. But here is the short-term cost of the long-term benefit of this gorgeous and expensive system.

One component of the system is the “Spin Doctor”, which squeezes the sheep and allows “spinning” them on their sides to work on their feet or do other operations. The older version of the Spin Doctor has openings on the side. Ideally, if the exit of the Doctor is a narrow chute, this would not be an issue. But I had a too-wide chute there, leading to a sort gate, which the sheep found visually aversive. So, they would tend to turn around in that chute, attempting to return in the direction of the herd by jamming into the side of the Doctor.

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EweLineFall is definitely here, with cool nights, and finally, some rain, after a long drought. In August, I weaned all the lambs, and put the ewes in drylot on hay for the short term. This saves the green grass for the lambs, giving the fields a rest until fall rains refresh them. It also gives me a good opportunity to walk the line and look at the condition of all the ewes, survey their udders, and spot any problems that need addressing before breeding season in November.

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LastLambMaybe

I might like to think this was my last lamb of the season, born already atypically late, in July. But I still have four ewes that I’m pretty sure are bred, which means they likely lost pregnancies late in that crappy, stressful winter, and re-bred, in, like, late March. One is definitely developing an udder, so seems for-sure. The others ones, I can’t tell by looking. I’ve done a couple of blood tests on them, and they indicate positive results, but they are on the edge, and  seem so hard to believe. They are all yearlings or two-year-olds, so to breed so far out of season is really odd. But, it has been an odd year.

I have them in the barn, so if they surprise me, at least I’ll spot them right away. During the summer, I don’t check the pasture sheep at all in the mornings, and only do a cursory review in the evenings, because they are pretty self-sufficient this time of year. So it’s not super convenient to have ladies-in-waiting. Not to mention, their schedules will be totally off for breeding back in November. This waiting game has caused me to not even wrap up my lambing records and stats yet. This winter was sure a weird and inconvenient one!

HayTrucksOur hay was delivered a couple of weeks ago, it’s always nice to have that milestone checked off the list. 37 tons, which is just about what I used last year. This was four long flatbed trucks and a trailer’s worth.

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Barf

Going through photos from the crazy days of lambing, I found this thing I wanted to post about. This is sheep vomit. Which I have never seen before. Sheep rarely barf. Walking through the pasture where the sheep were grazing, it caught my eye instantly. The only time I see this material is when rumens are emptied on the grass at the end of the butchering process, by people who plan to take the rumen lining home for tripe recipes. It is unmistakable in contents, smell and texture. It was spread out in multiple piles. I instantly knew who it belonged to.

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This.

Horses3

Went prancing by our farm today. My mom called to say they’d seen it, and to be on the lookout when it made its way towards our house a few minutes later. I was sorta ready with my phone camera, except I thought they were coming from the other direction, so I didn’t get a close-up of the bride-and-groom white horse-drawn carriage. You can click on the photos to see bigger versions of them.

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