Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fall 2006 Florida MSA Conference

MSA is an acronym for Meat Sheep Alliance.

The fall conference was a two-day affair last Friday and Saturday, October 20 and 21.

Actually Thursday was an optional trip to the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie Georgia so it could be said that the conference was three days long. We didn’t take the trip so can’t comment on that part of the event.

Other than the field trip, the conference was held at Lake City Community College.

I was surprised to see that part of the setup included quite a number of live animals, specifically sheep and sheep dogs.

Lake City has no Ag school and no ready-made facilities for containing livestock. Pens were set up in and around a large truck garage.

Several talks and classes were given by a lineup of imported heavy hitters in the realm of sheep husbandry. Several Veterinarians with advanced specialties, as well as PhD’s in Breeding and Genetics.

When I listen to land grant University types talking about farm policy I either get angry or go to sleep. These guys were not that type.

These folks are over educated farm kids with a passion for livestock and dirt (among other things) under their fingernails. Coming from me, this is a complement.

We took a class in FAMACHA, which is an approach to parasite control that minimizes the use of anthelmintics (chemical wormers).

We saw a herding dog demonstration.

The dogs were show dogs primarily.

Trailer, Sheep, Dog .. No fences .. don't try this at home.

Farm dogs do some (fewer) of the same things, but they do them all day long (if needed) and in all sorts of conditions.

I need one of these (farm type) dogs.

Different breeds of sheep common in this area were present.

Florida Native a.k.a. Gulf Coast Native sheep

Monday, October 23, 2006

Eggs and other farm stuff

A lot has been going on here at the A3 farm, with the obvious exception of keeping the blog entries up to date.

My bride and I both took last week off from our non-farm jobs and mostly spent the time on farm related tasks (big surprise).

We did a few things to get ready from the opening of the farmers market on November third.

We are selling eggs at the market. We plan to use my brides lap top computer to show photos and maybe videos of our production system.

I made a video that proves 1) Steven Spielberg is safe in his job, and 2) I’m a sucker for corny old Bob Wills tunes, even those done by Asleep at the Wheel.

It is in Windows Media Format.

Link to video

We also spent two days at the fall meeting of the Florida Meat Sheep Alliance, held this time at Lake City Community College. I’ll do a separate post about this. I got some good pictures.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bovine boogie

I don’t own a bull. I own two cows and a calf.

My next-door neighbor keeps 10 cows and a bull. His bull is a nice one that he named turbo. Every bit of two thousand pounds of vary large farm animal.

We often help each other out, I check his stock when he leaves town for example.

Last year he let me run my cows in with his to get them bred. We did this at midsummer when he had more grass than he could use.

This year rain has been scarce, except when I am trying to make hay of course. His pasture is not holding up too well.

My ground is still under stocked and I have some grass to spare. So this year we are running our cattle together on some of my ground. We turned them all in on Monday.

Just now I came by and saw my two cows and his bull lounging under the big shade tree.

Is it just my optimistic nature, or do they look like they have all just finished having a cigarette?

Home made peeps

A while ago I figured out that in order to sell eggs at the new farmers market I would need to offer them as fertilized hatching eggs rather than table eggs.

This is, for the most part, a dodge to avoid AG department busybodies who seem to believe that eggs come from factories and therefore prohibit anyone who doesn’t have a factory from selling eggs. They don’t know about chickens apparently.

Well, I may be forced to play wink and nod, but I wanted to know if such a claim would be true. So I borrowed a small incubator from a friend and installed four-dozen eggs in it.

I keep two roosters with my laying hens, so the eggs should indeed be fertile. Up to now I have never hatched any.

Well, I more or less forgot about them. Every few days I’d roll them around in the incubator. I lost track of when I put them in there.

Yesterday they started to hatch. I knew they were supposed to hatch of course, but I was still surprised.

I was at the feed store yesterday buying feed for the laying hens. It never entered my mind to get chick starter.

I went out just now and got starter feed, then put the ones that have hatched into the brooder.

Ten have hatched so far.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Aerial Photography courtesy of google earth

If you have never played with google earth then you still have a good bit to learn about wasting time.

Having said that, if you are lucky enough to live in a place where the satellites take a close look it is possible to get some good aerial photos of home (or just about anywhere else).

I pulled this photo of our farm and did an edit of it. Cool, huh?

I added indications of where the rotational grazing paddocks are, where water is available, and where the various buildings are.

The upper and lower left is adjoining land that we don’t use. The center left is land that belongs to my neighbor that we graze. It is subdivided into two paddocks at the moment. The large rectangle at the right is our land.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A busy weekend for farm work.

We moved the laying hens first thing Saturday morning.

Chickens in thier new location

Then we went off to Lake City to buy a new breeding ram.

Our friends Lewis and Janice had several rams they were willing to sell.

We picked out a nice Katahdin ram about a year and a half old.

The new Katahdin ram (click on photo to enlarge)

Katahdin is a hair sheep breed (no wool therefore no shearing required) that does fairly well in our climate.

Sunday we did a bunch of fencing work replacing some two-strand electric twine paddock fences with three-strand 14-gage aluminum wire.

These fences needed to be upgraded because some of the twine was failing from UV exposure, and because we now know that this is where we want the fence to be for quite a while into the future.

We were not sure where the best place was when we put in the twine fencing. Twine can be moved, wire cannot.

Some of the new three strand fence

In the evening we penned up the cattle in the barn. The Vet is coming today to vaccinate the calf and to de-horn its mama. The mama is a fairly tame beast, but I don’t need to get gored even by accident.