Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The new "Hay Station" and shearing & lambing!

So once again this year, I'm at it again with the hay.  Fiddling around, trying to figure out how to keep the girls not only clean(er) but on all 4 feet when grass is no longer an option.

Unfortunately this past season, grass wasn't an option past around July sometime.  I scratched through to about the end of September, rotationally grazing the back 30 which is old CRP (Conservation Reserve Program).  And let me tell ya, moving electronet in 100+ degrees in concrete hard dirt with bushes and trees all over the place is no easy task.

Glad they got a taste for weeds because thats about all they got all winter....dried CRP posing as hay.  Theres also plenty of dust, a few rose bushes and thorn trees thrown in for good measure.  And to top it all off, I had to pay more for it than I did real hay 2 years ago.  I've not seen "real" hay for a couple winters now, at least not in big bales.  Last year most if it went south to Oklahoma and Texas.  I can remember driving home from work seeing semi after semi whizzing past me.  This year there simply wasn't much to bale and what there was went fast and at a premium.  Given that the quality has been so poor, I've also been feeding grain all winter.  Girls are pretty happy about that.  Me, not so much.

So, the wheels have been turning my feeble mind trying to come up with a solution to the standing on the hind legs to get to the top of the bale which, for some odd reason, they think holds the caviar of hay.  Go figure.  I wasn't terribly worried about it early on but closer to lambing, it poses a threat to them babies in them bellies.  You see when they stand on their hind feed with their front feet on the hay feeders, it pushes the lambs back on the cervix and if the cervix isn't strong enough, pop goes the weasel (they prolapse). Combine that with the coughing from the dusty hay, not good. Been there done that and I'll do just about anything to prevent seeing it again.  Trust me.  I have pictures so don't test me or I'll make you look at them.  I'm evil like that.

Of course you know the solution will involve cattle panels, it always does.  I really should buy stock in that company.  The plan was to basically build a corral around the hay. I had my hay guy deliver 2 big bales and asked him to put them on their ends, side by side, far enough apart that I can peel layers off.  With help from my good friends Bob and Donna Putnam, we then positioned the panels about 4' away from the bales using 4 panels total and drove fence posts to secure them to.  I would then rake the hay to the cattle panels and keep the level low so they won't be tempted to climb the panels anymore.  Make sense?  Well, if not, feast your eyes on the magical "hay station" below.  Its working like a charm.  I'm also getting rid of some of the dust as I rake it and the coughing has actually diminished almost completely.  I've not seen 1 sheep on her hind legs since.  Gives me the warm fuzzies :).

Leaves plenty of room for all 30 sheep so no crowding

In other news, shearing is scheduled for February 24th (weather permitting) so if you want to come hang out or join in, let me know!  

Lambing should begin the last week of March and end around the middle of April.  Last year I purchased a new ram from Lisa Rodenfels of Somerhill Farm in SE Ohio.  "Xray" (aka Ray) is AI ram lamb out of Llwygy X1 from Wales. I'm very excited to see what Ray's going to give us, fingers crossed for lots of ewe lambs!



  1. Love to read about your farm!

  2. Waking up to a farm story is just lovely. Glad to see the girls have taken to the new feeding station and are behaving themselves :)