Saturday, January 28, 2012

Long overdue update

(I actually typed this up last fall and meant to get some pics attached and never did.  Hate to waste it so here it is, better late than never :)

Its been a long hot summer and had a short dry fall, looks like winter is not far away. Thankfully we've received some much needed rain in the past month.  Still not back to where we need to be but better than it was.  Pastures are gone for the most part and we've already fed 50 bales of hay.  Shocking since I've not fed that much hay before January in the past 4 yrs.

Sheep have done really well this summer, all fat and happy and our worm loads were much improved this season.  I was able to open up small parcels to the back 30 acres and gave them access to patches of sericea lespedeza, which in recent studies has shown to be beneficial in keeping worm loads down in both sheep and goats.  I’m pretty excited about this as we have plenty of it in the back 30 acres.  I’d really like to burn again but as dry as it is right now, that is just not an option.  Maybe we’ll have a chance to do it again next spring.

Hay is really going to cost us this year.  On my way home from work in KC every day, I see load after load of it going south so even though our hay was plentiful this year, the shortage down south has driven our prices up as well.  Last year we paid $3 per small square bale, this year $4.  Large round bales were $40, this year we'll be lucky to get them for $60 a 25-30% increase…painful.  Grain is up $2 per bag as well so we’ll be bracing ourselves for that price increase as well.  Its becoming more and more difficult to stay ahead of the game these days.

I began using the freshly burned back pasture this summer too, sectioning it off with electronet. There was a cedar tree in this particular paddock, one that I don’t want to cut down so I just crossed my fingers and prayed they’d stay away from it (cedar needles and spinning wool is not a good combo).  Ha, who am I kidding?  That was probably the first thing they did, go over and scratch their backs on it!  So I figured those fleeces would be a total loss and some were really nice fleeces.  Very sad. 

Then and interesting thing happened.  One day after a nice rain, I went over to Aliza and scratched her back. I love to admire their fleeces after a good soaking rain.  But what is this?  There was no cedar in her fleece!  Apparently when it rained, it softened up the fleeces and if you’ve ever washed a raw fleece, you know how slick it gets from the lanolin.  Well, I guess when they shook the rain off themselves, they shook the cedar out as well!  I couldn’t believe it!  I went around to every sheep I knew that had gotten into the cedar and not ONE had any left!!  Now is that amazing or what??  I was astounded, that kind of luck just doesn’t come my way very often lol.   Next year however, I will make sure that the paddocks go around the cedar trees that I want to keep!

Thanksgiving is almost here, hard to believe.  Won't be long before snow is falling and and the bitter cold winds start blowing.  Then we hunker down and bide our time, waiting for those ewes to fatten up, then shearing, vaccinating and the much anticipated event of the season....LAMBING!  Yes, lambing trumps shearing in my book!  Oh I get excited about freshly shorn fleeces but there is just nothing better than watching lambs being born (without my help) and getting up to nurse (without my help lol).  We have 9 first timers this year so I'm pretty excited about that too...even though I no doubt will be helping :).  We can only hope that all goes well, I really don't want to learn anything new this year.  Just a good old fashioned problem free lambing OK?  Yeah right.

So I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and hope you're able to share it with family and friends!


  1. I am glad that the summer went well for you. We sure have not had a normal winter. I almost wish we had more moisture.
    Liam is getting more beautiful by the day. He has a nice conformation and he is a real pleasant fellow to have. Did you sell all your rams? I will be looking for another BFL registered ram next fall. I got a new Cheviot ram and he is a cutie. I also sold my flock down to 19...lots easier to take care of.

    1. So glad to hear Liam is doing well! Wow your numbers ARE down! My numbers are about to go up now that we're opening up 25 more acres. Fingers crossed I can keep up with them!

  2. Welcome back to blogland. Hay prices in CA are out of site. Alfalfa is now at $18.95 a bale, might as well say $19 right. With the lack of rain and what low rainfall we did get won't help hay prices much this year. Farm Bureau Newpaper said it is cheaper to ship alfalfa from southern California to China than it is to truck it to northern California. Something about all those ships going back to China empty making freight charges being cheaper. Thank you Walmart for all your items from China you are selling. Ooops guilty myself, Better Homes and Gardens dishes and table linens all say made in China on the back.

    Hope you have an uneventful, productive lambing season.

    1. Thanks Tombstone! My computer got a bug last year so I've been working with an old one that doesn't always work so well. I'd actually gotten on this morning to post some pics that I took right after I got up, beautiful sunrise, frosty sheep, so pretty....all gone. Zip, poof, they vanished after download and of course after I'd deleted them from the camera. HATE when that happens! So anyway, thats when I found this old post.

      For the most part, I stay away from alfalfa these days. Not only because of the cost but because of how dirty the fleeces get. I really considered coating but its just not something I can afford or keep up with so next best thing is managing the environment to keep them clean. I'm using a high quality clover & grass hay and they're doing well on it. After shearing and right before lambing I'll start the ewes on a bit of alfalfa my hay guy kept back for me. Thankfully I don't have to pay $19 per bale...yikes! I'd have to get out of sheep if I had to pay that much for hay!