Archive for June, 2008

Weaning Week

June 30, 2008

This is weaning week.  My friend, Lucas, came to the farm a few days ago and helped get the first eight lambs into the truck, which we then drove back to the shed, where the lambs were shut in until we catch them all and they are over being separated from their mothers.  Over the last few days, I’ve caught an additional five; four more to go.  I go out each morning and grab a lamb while the mothers are eating and carry it back to the shed.  I have no sophisticated handling equipment, so it’s just grab a leg, throw the lamb over my back, and grab it by the legs, and walk the 500 feet to the shed.  I have been trying to grab two a day.  Hopefully, by tomorrow, I’ll have them all in the shed.  I was lucky and was able to catch two this morning. Usually, after one, the mothers are wary and the babies even more so, but by the next feeding time, they are willing to risk being caught in order to have “candy” (whole organic grain).  Then, they all get CDT shots to ward off some nasty intestinal diseases, and worming and eventually, a rabies shot and second CDT shot 3 weeks later.  Then, they are ready to go back in with the girls, who are “dried off” by then, or if boys, either in the pasture for lambs headed for butcher, or lambs I hope to sell for breeding stock.  Truth is, though, each year, there are several rams who would make lovely breeding rams, but aren’t sold, and they end up in the freezer.  You only need two rams (one, and a second, in case the first gets tired!) to breed all your ewes, so there’s always a bigger market for ewes than rams.)

Also, this morning, I friendlied up the little piglets a bit more and finally felt confident that they could do okay in with the larger piglets, so opened their mini-pen and let them out.  The four of them have been happily exploring ever since. The bigger ones, 12 weeks old, and maybe 50 pounds (?) have shown the little ones how to work the automatic feeder by lifting the lid with their snouts.  And they are playing nicely and napping together.  The little ones are only about 12 pounds each.  I’ll try to get a photo later.

It was nice this morning, clear sky, and not too much humidity.  Lizzie spent a couple hours in her crate while I went to Carol’s to sit and knit.  Now, it’s clouding over, humidity is closing in, and I suppose we will have a thunder storm eventually. It seems over the past two weeks to be the rule of thumb for afternoons!  We are making up for the period of no rain in May in a big way.  I’m glad for the pasture really needs rain!  It is starting to catch up.  I was beginning to wonder if I’d have enough pasture to feed the sheep.  Now that weaning is underway, and the lambs due to be put on John’s pasture, which reduces the sheepload on my pastures (Okay, we’re weird: he tends the small pasture on one side of the driveway which includes orchard and veggie garden. I tend the several acres of pasture on the other side.  Every year we put the weaned lambs on his pasture for a short time, which fertilizes his side and gives me a bit of extra grass.), it looks like we’ll have enough, for after the lambs are finished on his pasture, many of them will either be sold or go to auction.

Lizzie the puppy has fallen asleep, after having played outdoors and in since my return.  She’s out like a light. Sounds like a good idea! Think I’ll take a little cat nap.


New ram

June 26, 2008

Here’s a photo of Gandalf, the new ram I bought last week at the Jacob Sheep Breeders Association Northeast REgion Gathering in Pa:

He’s named Gandalf primarily because a second ram I’m looking at and likely to buy, is named Frodo, so I thought it a good idea to keep them in the same family, so to speak…same book, anyway!  I will get a fleece sample from Frodo today, and if that is everything I think it is from the photo, then Frodo will join us soon. Gandalf is currently at friend, Royal’s, in Pa. and will join us in October, making my life a little easier. Royal will use him to breed before bringing him, as he breeds starting in August, whereas I don’t put the rams in until November!  (I sure don’t want lambs born at -10; more importantly, I don’t want to be out there waiting with them at -10!)

In addition, on Tuesday I brought home two more piglets, tamworths, from some very nice folks in Chelsea.  Tamworths are reputed to make very great bacon.  It will be interesting comparing their meat with the crossbred ewes from Walter.  The tamworths the Whalens had who were the same age as my two crossbreds, were much larger and fatter.  We shall see!  These little piggles are dark red.  They are currently in a small enclosure inside the large pig enclosure/paddock out back of the house. Since the other two are bigger, I figured it would be better for them to get to know each other through a fence first!  Once they seem okay with each other, I’ll let them all out together, and life will be easier.

Yesterday, Lucas came at 8 a.m. and we managed to catch eight of the lambs and barricade them in the shed to wean them. There are still four more I want to catch in the next couple of days and five more after that  who will need catching eventually.  All the ram lambs need to be out of that group by August 1.  Until then, I’ll probably leave the ones destined for the butcher with their mothers, if they are still nursing: more nourishment, possibly.  Eventually, they’ll all come out. After a week without their mothers, the girls will go back in with the mothers. The boys being kept to sell as breeding stock will go in with their fathers. The boys destined for the butcher will be kept in a separate pasture to fatten up.  They haven’t been yammering for mothers as much as they did in past years. I think it’s because I’ve left them in longer…and the mothers are farther away, so they can’t hear them as easily.  Late last night(isn’t that always the way!) they did yammer a bit back and forth, but quieted down soon after I turned all the house lights off.  Or maybe I just fell asleep and didn’t hear them!

Another rainy day!

June 17, 2008

Boy, first I complain because there’s no rain, and now, it seems, because there’s a lot of rain…some people are never satisfied! I DO really feel great that we are finally getting rain, believe me…It’s just that there’s so much to do that cannot be done in the rain. I have a long term pig feeder to install, which requires a drill and electricity, which isn’t really a good thing to do in the rain. I have fencing to put up, okay in rain, but not thunder and lightning! Yesterday, I took my electric fence charger down to the repair guy, thinking it was broken. It was fine…it was the hot wire leading from it to the fence which had come undone, which I discovered AFTER I was back from the 2 hours each way trip! In the rain…at least I wasn’t trying to work outdoors. Today, I was hoping to finish my outdoor work in the morning, and go to spinning in the afternoon, but the rain intervened, so now, I’ll be outdoors working this afternoon, thinking of my spinning friends, on the porch of Moose Mountain Lodge, looking out at the gorgeous vista while I haul green fence panels into the pig pasture, pound in t-posts, drill holes in a wooden panel to attach the feeder, and install it, and try to figure out how to install the long term nippled waterer as well…Wait a minute here! I should be grateful that I can DO all this, not complaining because I have to, right!? Right!

The goaties are peeking out from the big ol’ doghouse we dragged into their pasture last week just before a big rain. They find it far superior to standing out in the rain:

That’s Violet and Daisy showing. Undoubtedly, Rosie is deep within, unable to get her head out to see what’s going on with the strange woman with the camera.

And the piggles, Gloria and Evie (named after my mother’s two blond cousins, a dim memory from when I was a child( the third to arrive soon, Dottie, the other cousin…who darker than the two blonds, was easier to tell apart, for a child who saw them only a couple of times a year.) are also sheltering from the wet stuff:

The third who is to come next week is a tamworth; the two already here are yorkshire/gloucester old spot, something else cross…I was hoping for a berkshire as well, but my friend, Lucas’ berkies don’t seem to be interested in being pregnant, or are taking their sweet time…so probably not this year.

While inside waiting for the rain to stop, I thought I’d show you one of two flowers from the cactus Suzie gave me. No idea what it is called. Probably ought to ask her…and then remember what she tells me. It is quite spectacular:

Hmm…it appears to be clearing…one last photo…of the two rams I used last year. Both are to be sold this year, hopefully. The two horned guy is great, but I’ve used him for two years, so it is time to move on. The four horned guy was not a good match for my ewes. He’s a nice ram, but the results, with my ewes, was disappointing. So, he will be sold as well. That means I need to find another ram, not always the easiest of tasks.

Okay, now it really has stopped raining, though the sun hasn’t come out again, so I’m not sure the clearing is for long. The sheep are having a fit…must want more food or something. So, I need to go out there. Have a great day.