Friday, October 24, 2008

Putting up hay

OK, so I am way behind on posting, better late than never I guess. We put up hay about two weeks ago and here finally is the write up.

Here are photos of the cutting, baling, and hauling.

Our old and small equipment did a good job, but as is most often with small equipment the work was slower than it would have been with big equipment.

As is also often the case with old equipment, we had to stop and fix things several times during the process.

Having said that, the hay is in the barn and there is enough to last the sheep through the winter.

Lots of help was received this year from big brother Jon, who came up for several days and worked like a dog the whole time.

The quote of the week from him: "I can't believe some people actually do this for a living!"

Misters Cooney and Nelson, the legendary "Over the hill gang" were on hand to bolt the machinery back together every time it fell apart, which was fairly often.

I'm grateful to everyone for all the help.

There is nothing like a barn full of hay to give me that "No matter what happens, we can make it" sort of feeling.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I generally think of fall as the beginning of the yearly cycle of the farm. The cycle could be said to start and end at any point during the year I guess, but in my mind it starts in the fall because that is breeding season.

Photo: One of the breeding groups, this one with our mature Katahhid ram

The ewes have spent the summer in a rotational grazing pattern after having their lambs weaned off them in the early summer. They have dried off and regained the condition they lost due to lambing and lactation. They are in good shape.

We have four rams we are using for breeding this season on about seventy ewes. Two of these rams are mature rams we have used for several years now. The other two are young rams we bought this year.

The ewes were separated into four groups. This was done in such a way as to:

  1. Prevent inbreeding; rams are not bred to ewes they are related to.
  2. Yearling ewes are bred, where possible (see 1 above) to a ram likely to through a smaller lamb.
  3. More mature ewes with a good lambing history are bred to rams likely to through big, fast growing lambs.
  4. For purebred ewes, to produce purebred lambs.

For us, two Katahdin rams are used to produce big fast growing lambs and two Florida Native rams are used to produce smaller lambs. The only purebred ewes we have are Florida Native so obliviously we use a purebred Florida Native ram on them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

So that's what farming is about!

If anyone asks why we are into farming, we can show them this. Warning, it's full of profanity but really funny IMHO.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The rest of the story about lambs

Looking at this badly neglected blog, I see I left off with the Florida Native lambs.

We did have other lambs, about 70 of them. Here they are last weekend as we moved them out from working them going back to their pasture.

We have yet to separate the lambs by gender, that will happen in two or three weeks. Then we'll put the ewe lambs in with the mature ewes. Over time we'll decide which of the ewe lambs to market and which to retain for future breeding.

We have 70 mature ewes now, 5 of which we a culling. We want to grow to about 100 breeding ewes eventually, but we don't need to get to that number in a single year.

The ram lambs will all go to market sometime close to Christmas.

On another positive note, it looks like we will have plenty of hay this year without having to buy any. We did a deal with a friend to sharecrop our ground with his nice new equipment. Lots of big round bales.

I'll still be able to get a second cutting of small square bales come October.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Last of the Florida Native lambs

Ewe # 33 had a single ewe lamb on the 28th of March. It weighed 8 pounds and was tagged # 507.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Herd Dog Clinic

Another farm not too far from us held a herd dog clinic last Saturday and we took pepper and spent the day there.

Pepper is an English Shepard that is over a year old now.

He knows all the basic obedience commands, and mostly he follows them, but he has a big wide stubborn streak.

He is around sheep every day here but has no idea about herding them, because I have no idea how to train him for that.

And that's where the clinic comes in.

John Carter and his wife hosted the affair, with Mr. Maurice MacGregor as the trainer.

Mr. MacGregor is an old Irish guy what has been training herd dogs all his life.

The photos here show the basic exercise used to get the dog to circle either left of right around a group of sheep.

With several ewes in a round pen, get the dog to circle and give him the commands when he's already doing the action.

The goal is to get him opposite you moving from your 10:00 o'clock to your 2:00 positions trying to push the sheep to you.

Pepper did well, showing the necessary instinct.

There is hope for him, all I need to do is learn to train him and get him working with someone who knows how. Like Mr. MacGreror.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thurday's Lamb

A single ram lamb tagged #506.

The mother is Florida Native ewe #4, 10 pounds at birth.

Tuesday's Lamb

This is the biggest lamb ever born on our farm, 12 pounds a birth!

Born Tuesday to Florida Native ewe # 11. A single ram lamb tagged #505.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Floirida Native Ewe Lamb

Ewe # /11 had a ewe lamb we tagged #504.

It weighs 9 lbs.

In the last 24 hours it has rained almost 3 1/2 inches. The wind is gusting to 45 mph.

Mama and baby act like they could do it all over again tomorrow.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

First Lambs

Dam 53518/16 #501 Ram Lamb 8 1/2 lbs.

Born 3/2/08 early am about 3 or 4am.

The six Florida Native ewes we bought a few months baqck have started lambing. The other ewes aren't due for another siz weeks or so.

Dam 53518/12 had twin ewe lambs about mid-morning. The weighed in a 6.5 lbs each.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A funny day with firearms

You see there was this rooster. He was one of the yard birds I wrote about in another post.

At the start there were three yard birds. Then a hawk got the smallest cockerel before it was full grown.

The other cockerel and a hen have been wandering about the farm since then without any interference from me.

Eventually they started to get into some bags of feed I had stored in the barn, tearing open the bags and making a mess.

I decided to off the rooster, now a full grown Rhode Island Red about 18 inches tall. My hope was that the hen would then find her way back to the main flock to get some company.

I decided to off him a few weeks back but never seemed to get around to it.

Yesterday I was going out to take care of the peeps and saw that the yard birds were close by. I have feed stored near there too; I didn’t want them to get into it so I decided it was time to do the chore.

I shooed them out of the shed and waited for the rooster to wander some distance from the hen.

I used the small revolver I carry with me all the time and shot him from about five yards away.

He jumped up as if frightened by the noise and ran off to a place several hundred yards away. He left a few feathers behind but otherwise showed no other signs of injury.

I though I must have missed him although I couldn’t quite see how I could have at that distance.

Like most shooters I don’t practice as much as I should. It worried me.

It was not possible for me to do anything more about him in the time I had. I needed to get back to work.

Later that evening I went out to do the other chores and noticed he was still in the place I had seen him last, now dead as Cesar.

Chickens are famous for running around for a time after having their heads chopped off, so I guess it’s not as hard to kill them as it is to convinced them that they have undergone a change of state.

My bride bought me that pistol for my birthday last year. I’ve shot some paper targets with it as well as a few grapefruits. None of those things got up and ran away after I shot them.

The gun is primarily intended as a self defense piece. It is a Smith & Wesson 38 special snub nose revolver and was loaded with ammo intended for self defense use.

If I’m ever forced to use it on some 300 pound bad guy named Bubba I hope it makes a more immediate impression on him than it did on that rooster!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Morning Chores

Just lately sunrise has been happening about the time I get going.

Also just lately the White Rock pullets I’m raising have taken to roosting in the nest box of the poultry schooner.

This totally soils the nesting material.

So I rigged up a way to shut them out of the nest box at night.

This necessitates opening the nest box back up first thing in the morning.

Today I refilled the feeder and took a few pictures.

These six Florida Native ewes are going to lamb soon.

So they are on a bit of pasture that is over seeded with rye grass, away from the other ewes.

This way they get a little better nutrition.

Friday, February 08, 2008

More Peeps

Early today the Post Office called to tell me that my day old chicks had arived. This is the second batch of 50 Cornish cross birds I've done this year.

The last batch was brooded in an old 250 gallon cattle tank I happen to have. I have a single battery brooder as well, but that was full of young laying pullets at the time.

It generally takes two weeks to brood broiler peeps to the point where they are feathered out enough to put out on the pasture.

Keeping 50 peeps in the cattle tank was OK for the first week, the second week it was not clean enough to suit me. This time 25 peeps are in the cattle tank and 25 in the battery brooder.

I have a deal now with some friends who also raise broilers. They start a batch one month; I start a batch the next month, and so on. We sell to a common pool of customers, butchering the birds here at my farm.

I expect we’ll keep this going until the real hot weather comes, late May I think.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sometimes when I plant, things grow

Way back in the olden days, when I wrote the last post, the photo with the plowed ground now is growing grass.

It is not a big enough plot to support our flock of seventy something ewes, but it's big enough for a few.

A while ago we bought a half dozen full blood Florida Native ewes. They had been bred by a Florida Native ram that came from the University of Florida flock.

They are set to lamb about the end of the month which is sooner than our production ewes. So they are on the green grass.

The laying hens and their roosters are nearby.

Next year I intend to plow and plant the whole field, so I am keeping the chickens there to fertilize the ground.

I ordered a batch of 50 broilers yesterday and will run them back there too