Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is it winter yet??

Wow, I hate to jinx myself but this winter has been a piece of cake!  Does anyone remember a winter like this before??  I can remember some with very little snow but these mild temps are just just crazy.  I still have GREEN GRASS!!  I was walking thru the barnyard last night when I looked around and it dawned on me, this is January, nearly February and there is still green grass here.  Granted its not growing nor is there any green left in the pastures but still, its nuts seeing green grass in the yard and barnyard this time of year.

Bridget being greeted by Bella and Evie

Very happy with how fleeces are looking this winter!  I decided to use primarily big bales this year because of cost and ease of feeding.  Therefore I had to come up with some way to keep them off of the hay.  Those shetlands use them as their playground, jumping up and play king of the mountain.  Cute but wasteful!  So I looked around on the internet, found some for sale and reasonably priced but s/h was dang near as much as the panels.  I figured I could make them myself so I did.

I'm notorious for making things myself instead of buying them.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much lol.  Thankfully this time it worked.  I took some cattle panels (hog panels, welded wire panels, whatever they're called in your neck of the woods) and cut them to 4' sections and then filed down the cut ends to prevent injury.  Some of the panel was wasted but I'll use those bits for supports in the garden (I also despise waste).  For a full bale I need 5-6 panels and connect them either with corkscrew hinges (LOVE those things for panels!) or carabiners.

Initially I also covered them with a heavy duty tarp.  It did help but its windy around here and after a month of strong winds, they were pretty beat up.  It wasn't exactly easy getting them tied down either.  I tried bungee cords, baling twine and carabiners but it was a pretty big PIA especially when it was time to adjust the feeder.

Once they've eaten a good portion of the bale down, I remove the panels, turn the bale over with my tractor and replace the panels, removing at least one panel to make it smaller.  It would be nice if you could do it in place but there is always several inches of uneaten hay at the base so the top is much smaller than the bottom.  I'm still working on perfecting it but for now, this is the method thats working for me.  I also go out and pull loose hay from the top and stuff it in holes to try and prevent them from climbing the panels to get to the better hay at the top (we don't want no stinkin prolapses 'round here!!). I'm also thinking about making another set of panels so I can set out 2 bales to give them more room and have even less chance of hay contamination on the backs of the sheep.  As it is, the fleeces are the cleanest I've ever seen them...and that makes me VERY happy :).

Shearing is set for March 11 starting at 9am if you're interested in coming out to watch or pitch in!  If the weather is bad, we'll postpone to a later date.  Can't be much later though, lambing starts the end of March so the girls at least must be done by then.  I refuse to lamb in full fleeces!  So the weather would have to be pretty bad for me to postpone.

Our shearer Danny Smith

Hope everyone is having as nice a winter as we are here.  I almost feel guilty lol.  I think we've earned it though, the past 2 about did me in!  And here is one last look at our HOPEFULLY pregnant  Evie.  She was my first real bottle baby and didn't have lambs last year.  She's 3 now so if she didn't take this year either, I'll be a very sad surrogate mom.  She looks pretty fat though don'tcha think?


  1. I love it when you post ! Can't wait until the 11th - an yes, Evie is either really pregnant or needs hay bale restriction :)

    1. Evie would say "BITE YOUR TONGUE!!" She is the first one at the feeder when I'm pulling down new hay, pushing me out of the way to get to it. Glutinous she is! I just hope she's eating for 2...or 3 :).

  2. Good to hear what is going on on the farm. Love the pictures too. You are so resourceful! Linda

  3. I'm glad it's a good winter over there too. I think it is here to, but I don't know. Like I said there are already baby lambs in the fields here and I thought that was early and maybe because of the warm weather but I'm not a shepherd so what do I know? Foxes are out too...

    1. Some people start lambing much earlier than I do although I would have thought pasture lambing this time of the year would be questionable where you are, doesn't it usually get really cold there?? Usually those that lamb earlier here have a barn in case the weather is bad.

      Foxes generally aren't a threat to lambs, he or she would have to get thru Mom to get to the lamb and a good ewe would never let that happen. If she is still down giving birth to another lamb or is injured them maybe they'd get lucky.

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  5. Oh boy shearing and lambs. And they do look greaat this year. You have done a great job with them and the hay feeders-shall we say brillant!