Late Summer

It’s been a busy few weeks, as summer winds down and we work hard to make the most of the pasture grass.  The guard dogs and the bachelors are settled in nicely in the back pasture.

After moving and rebuilding temporary fence, the ewes are happily established in the hayfield during the day, moving into the adjoining paddock with strong perimeter fencing during the night.

Which brings us to the lambs… well the lambs are living the high life in paddock #2 of the graveyard field.  So far they are growing out nicely, and producing beautiful fleeces that are ooohed and aaahed over when they come in for scoring and testing.  They are a lovely flock.

Good Fences

Temporary electric net fencing is a godsend for dividing the pasture into paddocks for rotational grazing.  Here we’ve set up a temporary paddock outside the perimeter fencing so that the bio-mowers – the wethers and some of the yearlings – can help us maintain part of the barnyard.  After spending the day out in the barnyard, they are brought back into the barn at night.

Joining TexWisGirl at The Run*A*Round Ranch for a link-up at ‘Good Fences’.

We’re Here

Saturday afternoon was spent breaking up the breeding groups and moving all the ewes back to the barn paddock.  Despite the snow and the bitterly cold wind, it went much better than we expected.  Usually we put up a moving lane to facilitate the moving process, but we didn’t this time because of the weather.  Instead we opened the paddocks one at a time and led each ram back to the barn.  All the ladies followed their guy… success!  We kept our old guy, Liam, and young Fury at the barn with the ewes.  Hopefully that will work out as well as it did last year with Strider.
And so, with a hearty round of the song “We’re all together again… We’re here… We’re here” everyone is settling in nicely.

Moving Around

A little late this year, but we finally moved the ewes to the hayfield pasture on Saturday.  Mid-summer was rainy so hay was made later this year.  Then it seemed to take the grass a little longer than usual to re-grow to pasture length.  The move went quite smoothly, and even Luke and Willet cooperated.  The ewes are very happy in their new pasture, and will remain there (with some paddock moving) until breeding preparations begin.

Moving Around

After a cool and foggy beginning, yesterday afternoon was sunny with a nice breeze most of the time.  A nice change from the oppressing humidity of the days before.  We had hoped to move the ewes into the hayfield, but it is still not quite ready.  So we moved them onto fresh grass in an adjoining paddock. 
We cooked up a jewel weed dye pot for the first time over the weekend.  We’re hoping for a nice peachy orange like Elizabeth Murphy (@sittingtree) shared on twitter a few weeks ago.  We boil jewel weed quite often to relieve the itch and heal poison ivy, insect bites, etc. but this is the first time we are trying to dye with it.  Hopefully it turns out pretty, as there is plenty of it around.. a benefit of not having had time to weed.  We also had another big harvest of hibiscus flowers that are finishing up in a dye pot this a.m.  Hope to share some photos of the natural dyeing in a few days.

Weaning Day

Saturday was weaning day.  We set up moving lanes on Friday, and moved everyone, including the yearling ewes and wethers, into the corral overnight.  Bright and early the next morning, we got to work.  All the sheep were scored with the FAMACHA card and treated.  The adults went out the side door and back the moving lane into fresh pasture behind the house.  Liam and Strider have such pleasant personalities that we left them in with the ewes for the next couple weeks.  The lambs went out through the corral and out a moving lane into the graveyard field where hay had been made a couple weeks ago. 
After a late lunch and a brief rest, we headed back to the barn to finish taking down the temporary fencing for the moving lanes.  A rapid change of plans had to be made as the lambs had torn down a corner of their fencing and had moved into the pen with Poseidon and Aragorn, our two biggest rams.  There they were bunched up in the corner closest to the barn bawling for their mamas.  We set to work repairing and moving fencing, and, of course, by the time we were done they had scattered and were happily munching poison ivy leaves off the locust tree trunks.  Finally after much coaxing and gentle herding (all the while trying very hard not to attract the attention of the rams) we got (what we thought) was everybody moved back.  On the walk back to the barn we heard a lamb echoing down over the hill.  Of course it turned out not to be an echo, but 6 or 7 lambs down below the rams.  Luckily they had meandered back up to the top closer to the other lambs and we were able to coax them over the next morning.
The ewes spent that evening and the next day wandering from one end of their paddock to the other looking for their lambs, calling them all the while.  That always pulls at our heartstrings.  Everybody has now settled in nicely and things are much calmer… and much quieter.

A Sense of Normalcy

The farm is getting back to some sense of normalcy.  All the trees are cut off the exterior fencing, so we could get the electric to the hot wires turned back on.  There are still trees that need to be cut in the pastures, but they are not a safety issue.  Where fencing couldn’t be repaired quickly, we set up temporary fencing in new areas.  To make a long story short, all the animals are back in the groups they are supposed to be in… if not in the planned area, at least in a safe area.  
We’re several weeks behind in our breeding preparations, and hope to catch up this weekend.  It’s not the season we planned, but we’re adjusting.  As you can see in the bottom photo, there are still some lingering patches of snow on the north side of the hills.  We’ve been lucky to have about a week of nice, almost 50 degree weather to work in. 
And… as always… it’s great to have our girls back in the barnyard pasture.
Ours prayers are still with all those who were hit by Sandy… friends visited from New Jersey last weekend… the devastation there is unbelievable.

Lucky Ewes

Over the course of two days, sometimes through the wind and rain, we moved the breeding ewes temporary fencing in the hayfield.  They spend the day in this paddock then come in to the permanent, woven wire fencing at night.  They are very excited about all that fresh green pasture, and come running when they hear the gate opening.  If the girls look up from eating long enough they’ll also realize how lucky they are to be surrounded by all this beautiful fall foliage.  

In a few short weeks, we will move them back near the newer barn where we will get everyone ready for breeding season.  Poseidon and Aragorn say hurry it up… they are ready and waiting!

Hide and Seek

Now that the weather has cooled, the breeding ewes spend most of their day in the hayfield, protected by temporary fencing.  They come running when they hear the gate being opened and proceed to parade into the field, providing weed control and, of course, fertilizer.

If the heat turns up in the afternoon, the ewes head back into the permanent fencing for some cool down in the shade… and maybe even a little game of hide and seek.