Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lambing is almost over...

Yes it is great to be almost done with Lambing.  I prefer the lambs to be born early and will try and get everyone lambing in Feb and Mar next year.  The lambs and ewes do better in the cooler weather before it gets to hot.  It would be nice to wean the lambs by the end of May.  We wean all our lambs at 3 months of age.

Today it is in the 80s and a nice breeze is blowing.  It has been dry with low humidity, so it is nice.  We still have 3 ewes to lamb.  One is old Luthien who is bagging up, but probably will not lamb until May.  The other two are 2 year olds, one is the lovely Ulani and the other Blackie.  Neither one lambed as a yearling and Ulani may be pregnant, but Blackie I do not think so.  We will have to wait and see.

The barn is finished and we have put in over half the garden.  To date, we have tomatos, lettuce, cucumbers, sweet corn, collards, sweet potatos, squash, some herbs, and green beans planted.  I hate to say this, after all the rain this winter, but we could really use some rain.  The pastures could use some rain to get the grass to jump a bit and we hope to cut our first hay in May.  The garden could use a bit of rain as well.  We are watering from the well to get the crops going.

We will be skirting fleece and sending it off to the processor.  If there is enough, I would like to have socks made.  I am thinking large and extra large socks, mid calf height.  Let us know what you think.  We will only be able to carry a couple of sizes and right now, everyone we know has big feet like me...

We are experimenting with raising some turkeys.  They are Broad Breasted Bronze Turkeys.  We have six turkey poults, which are baby turkeys.  They are straight run, meaning both male and female.  We have had them for a week now and they are growing quickly.  We are feeding chicken starter 18% plus a bit of soybean meal to up the protein to 22%.  We will make a moveable pen out of an old trampoline and place wire around it.  It will keep them safe, give shade and shelter, and can be moved daily for them to free range on pasture.  We will keep everyone posted on how it works. 

We took the two lambs I bought from a friend to the processor and we have had lamb chops and steaks the last couple of nights.  Wow!  They are good, not as sweet as the Icelandic, but pretty darn good.  We grilled the steaks on the grill and boy, they were worth the effort to run to the other farm and carry feed and water over there as well.

Oh, Mr Paul has fixed the water lines and we were able to move the cows to the back pasture.  I had been fusing at Mr Paul for hitting the line with a trencher.  When we dug it up, it had been crushed, more then likely by the fence builders when they put in the cross fencing.  No matter...  We now have water to the back pasture and several water access points to fill water quicker and finally put in the auto waters.

My little lamb Baby Girl is sooo cute (the picture above and to the right is of Baby Girl.)  She is a shetland ewe lamb.  She is black now, but will gray out.  She is a pure Shetland ewe lamb and is my baby.  She follows me everywhere and hollars if I get out of site.  She even helped me catch a yearling Icelandic Lamb with her newborn by hollaring and getting the young mom to follow her up to the barn.  She is more help then the herding dog.  Baby Girl is now at the farm.  I wanted to pen her with Hill Billy, who is now a nigerian wether and have him teach her to eat better.  Hill Billy wanted to knock the baby around and be mean, so Baby Girl is by herself until we come up with a solution.  She is nibbling grain & eatting some hay, but needs to learn to eat more.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring has arrived...

We have been busy with spring Lambing and Kidding.  The ewe to the left is Blackberry with her twins by Phanom. 

In between we did some shearing.  I had a pro come in to shear the sheep and was not pleased with the results.  The picture to the left are the four new Mini Cheviots and what they looked like after the Pro Shearing.  Yeah, a picture is worth a thousand words...

I am still not sure if our Shetland Ram will be able to breed.  His penis was cut and he developed an infection and then had trouble urinating.  I think we finally have him straight and hopefully he will be able to breed this fall.  We also had a really nice Icelandic ewe lamb who lost a teat.  Yeah....  and that is not all.  I will be reshearing most of the flock due to the uneven, chunks of wool left behind.  My disappointment in the shearing can not be expressed and the stress of almost loosing my ram is not worth bringing in another to shear.  The young ewe had the tip of the teat cut off, which means I will be raising bottle babies off of her, which is added stress and work. I have put in for two weeks of Vacation in October and will be shearing the entire herd myself.  I did it last spring and no one was missing any body parts. The awful weather last fall caused us to loose most of our prime Icelandic Fleece, which felts by spring.

We have had two sets of triplet Nigerian Dwarf kids from first time fresheners.  They are both producing plenty of milk for the kids and all are doing well.  All the yearlings we have For Sale have kidded.  We will be selling some with their kids and some without.

Our barn is being built today and will look like the picture to the left.  It will be 60 x 80 and we will have an area to put the entire flock, no matter the weather, to get everyone shorn and be able to put them up to grow some fleece if the weather turns cold, like it did last year.  We will add the sides over time and enclose part of it for kidding and lambing and have a nice milking area.  With the hot climate of Alabama, we will leave it open for the summer and enclose the North side this fall.  The pictures below are of the building in progress.

We will be storing hay and this year plan to do all square bales, which are easier for me to handle.  We have purchased a square baler and are ready to bale when the fields are ready.  I hate round bales and really hate unwrapping them.  I find they waste a lot of hay and the goats, forget it, they waste 50% of the bale.  The goats climb on and have a field day tearing it up, urinating and deficating all over it.  You can also bet whoever may have a bit of loose stool will have a blow out all over the bale as well...

We have also cleaned out the goat shed and put crushed ashfault down in order to keep the goats dry and out of the water if we get weather like last fall and winter.  I had let the bedding build up to have a dry spot for the herd.  The bedding is in a huge pile by the garden.  We tried to burn it, but there is enough manure to not burn well and it has been smoldering for a week now.  It will need to compost this year and maybe next year will be able to use it in the garden. 

I am getting spring fever big time and am ready to start digging in the garden.  We still need to add dirt to build up the garden and keep it out of the water.  I do not want everything to drown like last year if we get a ton of rain again.  Hopefully the garden will be ready by the end of the month.  I have onions and garlic from last fall which never got into the ground and want to plant some lettuce before it gets to hot and bolts.  Sweet corn of course and this year I want to try some potatos and sweet potatos as well.

We have also worked the rams, trimming hooves, worming if needed and we trimmed some horns as well.  Snow man is pictured to the left and below.  His horn was growing into his face on the left.  We decided to take both sides because the other was so close as well and would eventually need to be cut.  Duncan the Shetland Ram and Snow man one of the Icelandic rams needed horns trimmed.  PJ, Mr Paul's son helped us by using the saw.  DO NOT USE A CUTTING WIRE TO TAKE OFF HORNS!  I tried this in the past and it was a horrible bloody mess and took me almost 30 minutes to cut the horn off as blood flowed.  Both myself and the poor ram were a bloody mess by the time the horn cut through.  A reciprocating saw is ideal and takes a couple of seconds.  Unfortunately the horns have a vast blood supply and bleed like crazy. 

We wrap the horn end with vet wrap and then put blood stop on the vet wrap as the blood soaks through.  It does not work the other way because the horns bleed to much and wash the blood stop away.  I usually leave the vet wrap on until it falls off.  We have cut Saxon's horns, Snow man and Duncan.  Duncan had the horns growning into his jaw and he was having difficulty eatting and had lost weight.  Once they were removed he was doing great, gaining weight and having a brighter outlook, until his penis was cut by the careless shearer.  Bless his heart...  he has had a tough year so far.

PJ is shown to the left with the saw to remove the horns.  PJ is a BIG FELLA and is a huge help around the farm.

Mr Paul went to Missouri to pick up 4 more Mini Cheviot ewe yearlings.  We will breed them this fall for more spring Mini Cheviot Lambs.  The demand for these little darlings has been really great and worth the trip to purchase some nice stock from Show-Me-Sheep-Farm.  Thank you Russ & Gwen Jackson.

Spring has sprung and we are all enjoying the warmer weather.  There for a week or so, it was a bit hot, but as long as the humidity is low and a breeze is blowing...  all is well.  This week we are back to normal temps for April in the south with more babies to come.

The picture on the right is Posie with her new ram lambs by The Trump.  She lambed today around lunch time with Dorie/Valarie right behind her.

Dorie/Valarie is lambing for the first time.  She had a ram lamb and an ewe lamb.  She has a lovely udder and I may just try and milk her down the road.  She has teats like my Nubian goat does.

Yes, it has been a busy day...  Time to hit the hay...