Monday, November 13, 2006

My public demands it!

My last blog post was quite some time ago indeed. Today I got this comment:

Cheryl said...

Now, you can't just leave your 2 blog fans in suspenders like this. How about an update? ;)

WA state
How about that? I’ve been missed. Time to get back into gear.

There have been lots of things happening on and around the farm with the obvious exception of blog postings.

We have established something of a new routine here with the sheep herd. At the MSA meeting (see previous post) we learned a lot about internal parasites and how to manage them.

The ofending vermin is Haemonchus contortus, commonly known as the barberpole worm.

This visious little beasty is a major problem here with our hot wet climate. We have lost several sheep to this bug.

One fact about how it works struck me. It lays on the ground and is rather inert until the grass becoms wet. It then “swims” up the grass blade where it can be eaten by a sheep.

If the grass is dry it is very unlikely that the sheep will ingest the parasite.

Our sheep tend to graze heavly right at daybreak, no doubt because it is cooler than later in the day. Dew is usually very heavy here. If you walk a pasture early in the day it will soak through your clothes.

Sheep in the dry lot

The new routine is this, in the evening the sheep get penned up in the dry lot not to be release til the dew burns off the next day, typically about 10:00 AM.

We are now at the beginning o f breeding season. The ewes are divided into two groups, each with one of the rams. The market lambs are in yet another group.

The ewes and the rams have been on opposite sides of a fence for a week or so. They have been making kissy noises back and forth all that time.

Judging by the activity so far, lambing season should be short and early next spring.

Three of the 14 market lambs have been sold to 4 different people, the ultimate consumers.

I'm still working out the logistics of getting animals to the butcher and meat to the customers but we will get it done somehow.

I just came back from a visit to the butcher shop I'll be working with. It is a very nice little operation. Clean and professionally run. I was impressed.


The Food Lady said...

Glad to see you are back! I missed you, too. : )

Do you use the FAMACHA test for barberpole worm for your sheep? I am still uncertain on trusting it, as I don't know if I have a good baseline reading of "red." Also, not too much luck with doing my own fecals. I guess it'll just take time... would love to hear what you do.

Cheryl said...

See? You're quite popular, in fact.

Great idea with using the dry lot. Hopefully that will help. Maybe also cut the grass back or lay down bricks or something around the water troughs, if you use them in the pastures? I don't have any sheep experience, so I'm just throwing that out there.

Glad to see you back. :)


JamesO said...

Nice to see a management solution to the problem, rather than what farmers over here tend to do, which is to pump the sheep full of chemicals. I hope it works.