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The Wind

No matter where you are in the viscinity of our farm, it is impossible not to notice twenty one 450 foot wind towers on top of Lowell Mountain.  We have a direct western view of them, and all night they blink a vigil of nine red lights.

This morning, Matt and I had the opportunity to tour the wind project to finally see the towers up close.  We really appreciate renewable energy – it fits nicely conceptually with regenerative agriculture.

We were met by friendly representatives from Green Mountain Power.  They seemed really excited to talk to visitors about all of the efforts they have made to make the towers as clean as possible.  From stopping the towers from turning at key bat activity times to innovative stormwater runoff efforts, they seem to have really worked to make the towers as sustainable as possible, though there still are small numbers of birdstrikes and some disruption of bear habitat.  Due to the presence of the towers, the rest of the mountain is conserved and closed off to development.

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Turbine blades are BIG.  That’s Matt, for perspective, and I couldn’t get the whole thing in the picture.
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The arc felt graceful.
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The pads where the turbines were placed are gradually vegetating – other than some seldom-traveled roads,  this mountaintop is reverting to forestation.

Other visitors to the towers were mainly out-of-towners.  We discussed good lunch places, education funding mechanisms and just general stuff.  If you are on a tour of wind towers, the people with you are more likely than not like-minded nerds, I guess.

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View from the Top!
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That’s our house in the middle!  Matt’s camera does get a bit grainy when it is zoomed in 7 miles!

 

I thought back to the fear and opposition to this change.  Certainly, there are some legitimate critiques about siting development like this in poorer areas (you’ll notice a lack of wind farms in Stowe!) and general concern about impacts on close neighbors (though both reflection and sound are actually really minimal).  Nevertheless, there is a small but vocal group against further wind development.  I can relate, as there are both legitimate critiques of animal agriculture and also an entrenched group that won’t be happy with anything but abolition.

 

Checking the Flock

A little over a year ago, assessing the wellbeing of ten sheep was as easy as walking into the paddock with a handful of grain and waiting for everyone to come and say “hi.’  I could touch, FAMACHA and evaluate all of my sheep in a few minutes.  Simple!

With 60 sheep now present in the main group and many of them more independent and less friendly than my sheep last year, this approach is no longer feasible.  So we put together a panel-pen, shook a bit of grain, and collected most of the flock.  I had set up a new paddock for them to enter, so “inspected” sheep could exit into a different paddock than the location of our un-caught flock.  Trust me, it made sense.

Here are the notes we took.  Dagging means trimming poopsicles off bums – the flock is now dingleberry-free!  Ivermectin and Fenbendazole are wormers, we treated sheep who looked more anemic with Ivermectin.  We are still struggling with the wide variety of tagging systems present in our flock – Letters denote the color of the tag, so B122 is Blue (appropriate for Bluefaced Leicesters!), crossbred lambs are Yellow, pure Border Leicesters are green, and we have a few stray pink and white tags for Cormo crosses and other crosses.   Other ewes from other flocks, well, let’s just call the system eclectic:

Notes as follows:

  • Ozzy is now numbered B112
  • GWAR got 2.9 ml Fenbendazole
  • Summer looked fine
  • Judy looked fine
  • Emma looked fine
  • Sue looked fine  (Judy, Emma and Sue are all yearlings from our starter flock)
  • 65 looks good and has regained weight since lambing.
  • 1606 looked good.
  • 95 was thin and received 1.5 ml Ivermectin.
  • Fannie had pale eyelids and received 2.9ml Fenbendazole
  • Tag-torn unknown lamb is now Y132 – torn ear has mild infection and will need to be addressed.
  • 210-Bisdorf was thin and pale-lidded and received 2.5ml Ivermectin.  (This ewe has huge, vigorous lambs who’ve taken a lot out of her- she will be 7 next year)
  • Fancy B124 had pale lids and received 1.5ml Fenbendazol
  • Krombopulis Michelle had pale lids and received 2.9ml Fenbendazole
  • 1616 required dagging
  • Chloe had pale lids and received 2.9ml Fenbendazole.  We should have retagged her, but we forgot. (Chloe tore her tag out while at Rhinebeck!  She never even made it home with her scrapie tag).
  • Lamb 130 is fat and healthy!  (This is the youngest lamb of the main group, though there are some later-born lambs from yearling ewes)
  • 2503 is fat, received a bum-trim
  • Ewe 13-266 from Sue is now G100 (this fixes the Border Leicester ID issue – there are three more ewes who needed visible flock-tags.  Luckily most had existing ear piercings and weren’t subjected to a new taghole)
  • Another tag-torn lamb is now Y133 and received 1.5ml Fenbendazole
  • 122Blue had pale lids and received 1.5ml Fenbendazole
  • 123Y is small and poopy.  Was dagged and received 1.5ml Fenbendazole
  • 115Y was poopy and was dagged
  • Sheppenwolf was thin and had pale lids and received 2.9ml Fenbendazole
  • 128Y is fine
  • Ewe 13-264 from Sue is now G101
  • Lamb Y121 looks good
  • K-Michelle’s son is now White347
  • Lamb y126 is good
  • Lamb 103 is all wool, no sheep.  Concerned about poor growth
  • Lamb 110 had pale lids and received 1.5ml Fenbendazole.  Eyes are perfectly clear and healthy!
  • Ewe 72 looks well
  • Ewe OH-Bisdorf-K looks good, considering her advanced age.  Ewe was born 2010.
  • Erin looks good
  • Y118 looks good
  • Y122 looks good
  • OH34, the skinny one, is concerningly skinny and was dosed prophylactically with 2.9ml Ivermectin.  Will have the vet inspect next time she is over.
  • 1411 Border Leicester is now G102
  • 1620 needed dagging
  • 13-270 is now G104
  • 13-262 is now G105.  Tag 103 broke in tagging.

Cloverworks farm sheep grazing in field

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This ram lamb is for sale!  Registered BFL.   He passed our inspection.

 

One Year on The Farm

One year ago today, Matt and I bought the farm.

I know that I’ve described the effort we have made to restore it, to revitalize it, to build a barn and some infrastructure and a life on it.

Last night, I walked out to feed the calves one of their three daily feedings of milk.  The last traces of dusk had escaped the western sky, and the pattern of a half-dozen red lights on the wind turbines signaling in unison was the only light there.  In the East, the moon was just rising through a distant haze over the tall hill that circumscribes our viewpoint.

Across our fields and our neighbors, the fireflies put on a beautiful show of lights.  One or two fireflies in a backyard look very nice, I will grant.  But acres of fireflies look like magic.   They take my breath away, even as I slog somewhat wearily on a hot and muggy evening.

The calves are grateful to see me.  In moments, the milk vanishes and the calves urgently lick each other looking for more milk.  Overfeeding would be risky for them, so I resist their snuffling entreaties for more.

Heading back to the house, I pause to admire the beautiful starscape I can see above.  The Milky Way is visible until the moon rises.

I love this place.  Farming is hard, tiring, and sometimes thankless, but I get to behold beauty every day.

Some images of the land from last year.  This doesn’t include our efforts just to *find* the front pastures.

 

Some updates:

For those of you who follow Instagram, you are aware that we had some illness in the bottle lamb group.  We lost two lambs- the weakest of the BFL lambs from Ohio, and little Liz died of a genetic heart condition (as best we can tell).  She was getting persistently thinner with no improvement from many attempts at treatment.   I autopsied her carcass and found her heart large and floppy with excessive fluid all around it.  So we think the issue was congestive heart failure.

The rams are fat and happy.  It’s tricky to give them enough pasture so they won’t try to bust out, but not too much nutrition so they don’t get more chubby than they are right now.

The main ewe group is doing well.  Most are putting weight back on now that their lambs are demanding less.  Some are a bit thin, so we will soon be rounding up the sheep for some FAMACHA, some worming, and some bum-trimming.  There are always a few ewes with poop-sicles dangling from behind.  No one needs that!

 

How to Have A Goose Day

20180626_0827526am- Up with the Sun!  Time to come out from under the chicken coop to greet the day.

7am- Processional time.  Hint, a lot of a goose day will consist of traveling in procession with great importance, to nowhere in particular.

8am- The farmer is out!  Approach her when her back is turned to remind her that geese like a bit of sweet feed from the bucket she carries to the bottle lambs, but if she turns, RUN FOR NO REASON!  Can’t be too careful when you are a goose!

9am- The farmer filled our bucket with fresh water and moved it to a fresh spot so we don’t have to stand on the manure-ring around yesterday’s bucket location.  Time to fill this bucket with dirt, down and crud as fast as we can!

10am- Processional!  Down to the lower pasture to find some tender grass shoots.  Let’s not forget to defecate all along the road instead of fertilizing the grass for the farmer.

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11-1pm – Lunch of fine grasses in a shady locale.

2pm – We’re running across the lawn, wings outstretched, imagining that we are capable of flight.  If only our bums were a bit smaller…

3pm – One of us saw a lamb out and decided it needed pinching.  Farmer told us not to.  We resent her, but our water is cleaned and refilled again, so …

4pm – Standing in the driveway as a car pulls in.  Don’t get confused about who rules this roost, car!

5pm -7pm More grazing.  Be sure to mock the meat chickens in their chicken tractor.  Suckers.

8pm – Let’s think about bedding down – Chicken coop again?  Why not?

11pm – We are inexplicably out gabbling when the farmer does the night feeding of those cows she brought.  Midnight snack.

Pasture Progress

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Before and After!  A comparison of one day’s work on invasive Greater Celandine

I have to confess that I am a grass nerd.  Today, I was exuberant to see how perfectly my sheep ate and enjoyed the grass at their disposal.   Every blade appeared to be nipped only to the growth point, no further, allowing for optimal regrowth.  A field of vetch and clover had only unwanted mint left behind.

We bought this farm on June 30th, 2017.  In one year, we reclaimed rank overgrowth, cut back invading saplings, seeded new pasture onto denuded areas, and hauled out huge pieces of trash left by prior residents.  The fertility of the land has grown – sheep exposure plus added purchased manures have increased the carbon sequestration in the soil.  Our soil is darker, richer, and less inclined towards runoff than before.   With all of this effort towards improving the pasture, I admit we haven’t had a moment for the house interior.  Sure, our boxes are mostly unpacked, but we don’t have any plans for the unpainted pantry or removal of some of the tackier, ill-applied wallpapers we inherited.

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Sheep Trails – they walk in lines to hide their numbers, I guess.
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Left side is grazed, right side is about to be grazed.  The sheep leave the long seed stems but love the leafy undergrowth.

But we are happy, and the sheep are happy.  We are rotating pasture daily – each paddock is about a half acre.   As this is our second rotation around the farm, I am following the sheep’s grazing with the brush hog to knock down the larger weeds and suppress the parasites a bit (parasites like it moist- mowed grass gets dry in the sun.)

After reaching their nadirs nursing their lambs, our ewes are starting to pack a few pounds back on.  This afternoon, they lounged contently in the sun after a morning of serious munching on the fresh grass.  I’ve been busy worrying about the sad condition of one of the lambs that came from Ohio, wondering if I was doing anything right at all.  The main flock of girls reassured me that I was doing just fine indeed.

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And yet, no one ate the mint.  Do sheep have a natural aversion to mint?

Sheep in Search of a Shepherd

Single large flock of sheep ISO capable shepherd and verdant fields.  Appearance not important, commitment a must.  

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I don’t think that sheep ever write singles ads.  Overall, they aren’t picky about partners when the call of Fall comes.  But I am writing a personals ad for a flock of sheep that I really believe in.

Sue Johnson first got her Registered Border Leicesters after trying out several breeds in the 80’s.  From a first few ewes, her flock grew to 55 strong.  While trends in breedscome and go, Sue has stayed dedicated to fundamentals: sheep that thrive on grass, lamb with twins unassisted, raise them with care, and provide wool that meets the breed standard for curl and luster.  While her sheep have been shown with success, production fundamentals have guided her decisionmaking through these years.

I have to say here that Sue’s sheep saved my farm.  While the Bluefaced Leicesters are wonderful, fun sheep to raise, the Border Leicesters have done the heavy economic lifting for me.  Even with the stress of transport and relocation, my Border flock from Sue provided a 185% lamb crop, unassisted, in bad weather and good.    If I’m successful, my BFLs will be half as good in 10 years as Sue’s Border Leicesters have been right off the truck.  I really can’t say enough good things about their hardiness, their self-reliance, and their uniform appearance and lovely wool.  Unless you’ve had a flock of random sheep, it’s hard to overemphasize the value of ewes who are the same size, respond the same way to the same feed, and behave in predictable ways.  It saves a lot of personalized care, which a flock of 40 and 50 ewes doesn’t allow for the way having 5 or 10 once did.

Sue needs to cut back the number of sheep she is managing significantly for this year.  She and I aren’t just looking for buyers – we want to find a dedicated steward of a legacy and a rich genetic resource.  I have an interest in where Sue’s flock goes because I will need rams, support and partnership in future years.  Buying some or all of this flock entitles you to my support and Sue’s years of expertise and sound advice.  She picked my ram for this year, and from a gawky teenager he has grown into exactly the ram I was hoping to own.  An eye like that has real value.

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This flock is a turn-key group of sheep that is perfect for any enterprise-oriented shepherd.   I’m going to offend a few people, but I’m going to say that if you want to raise sheep as an enterprise rather than a hobby, forget about rare sheep, tiny sheep or trendy sheep.  Get a large, reliable ewe who will never fail you, who is part of a sustainable genetic pool and whose beautiful wool has myriad uses.   That ewe will pay your bills while the Breed of the Moment cycles through the usual breeder pyramid scheme.   Sue’s sheep are both white and natural – the US Border Leicester registry accepts both.  Ewe lambs, rams, and production-aged ewes all available in small groups or large.

So please contact me below if you think these sheep might be of interest.   We are happy to answer questions

So Much Going On

I’m afraid this will have to be one of those bullet-point affairs:

  • We got a couple of additional BFLs from Ohio last weekend in order to grab the last available breeding-age ewes from a breeder who sold out her flock three years ago.  They are MAGNIFICENT but don’t seem to particularly want to be photographed.20180611_184458
  • We drove 14 hours out and 16 back (due to having to take smooth roads with a full trailer).  We dropped off a Bluefaced Leicester ram in Western NY while outbound and then enjoyed a slow day seeing Ohio and chatting with the shepherd who was parting with his BFL flock.  The next day, we left the hotel at 5am for a 5:30 loadup and a long, straight drive home.
  • We got back to Vermont at 9:45, totally exhausted.  As we approach the house, we see strange figures near the ram enclosure.  Turns out our neighbors’ beef herd was loose.  They availed themselves of our hay and grass, leaving copious amounts of fertilizer in payment
  • We tried to herd them into our barn, but only two were willing to come in.  Our neighbor Terry helped us find the owner, and soon we were shooing the cattle slowly home.

    We released our new sheep, free from the risk of roaming cattle taking our fencing down and slept fitfully.

  • Meanwhile, our chickens are headed outdoors by the end of the week.  We are pleased to see our Slow White Broilers growing rapidly while still behaving naturally.  They as active and chirpy as chickens their age aught to be.  The jury is still out on how they’ll finish out, but so far, so good.  Interested in chicken?   We will have pastured chicken available after July 18th.  We also have
  • Our geese now roam the yard freely.  Contrary to the information we read, our geese are neither friendly towards us nor are they aggressive.  They seem cautious and inclined to move in a flock.  I am anxious about slaughtering a goose because plucking is apparently a significant challenge.  But I am willing to try at least one and then start tweaking.  Friend of the Farm Suzanne Podhaiser has been very generous with her experience, so I am grateful to her for her sage advice.
  • We are getting Jersey calves!  Two Jersey steers are forthcoming from Richardson Family Farm.  We need to think up some good names for them.  While most bulls born on dairy farms board a truck shortly after birth to meet a destiny inside a hotdog casing, ours will enjoy a winter and two summers of grass, shelter and sunshine.  We hope to keep them friendly but not pushy.  Brace yourselves for some big brown eyes.
  • Back to the sheep we bought.  I am enamored with their amazing blue color and fantastic structure.  They are real beauties.
  • We are trying to decide whether to raise more chickens or whether to have a few turkeys.  Our main goal with the birds on the farm is to pump up the nitrogen in the soil where it is seriously depleted.  Thoughts and opinions?

A few more pictures:

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Looking Under the Hood

This post is going to be about meat and finances.  If you are mostly here for the cute lambs, that’s totally cool, of course, but this post doesn’t have any of those.  We will be back to our regularly-scheduled programming next post.

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We are excited to announce that we will be having lamb sausage made in mid June.  We will have Garlic Parmesan sausage available for sale at our farm and hopefully at a few select locations in the state.  Delivery is possible, for those that want it.  That said, my thoughts about how to sell this sausage and my lamb crop generally are a bit mixed at the moment.

Here’s the skinny: The most I can make selling a 45lb lamb is selling one to you, whole or half, at my current price, $10/lb.  Even thought I pay the butcher and often do the transport, that is my longest dollar.  While sausage is a food that anyone can cook and enjoy, your sausage yield from that same 45lb lamb might only be 25 lbs of ground meat, yielding 30lbs of sausage once some pork fat is added.  The price per pound has to go up, and that’s hard to do with a meat format that most people view as cheap.

I have several years’ experience marketing Vermont specialty foods.   Both products I sold were high-priced, specialty offerings so I am pretty familiar with the Vermont market for pantry staples with long shelf-lives.   Meat is different- it is perishable, and unless you’ve really spent your time branding, a lot of customers view it as interchangeable.  Both products I sold in the past were for special occasions and were giftable.  Meat is a staple for most people and would be a rather non-standard gift.  What then, in their minds, is the difference between one farm and another when the product in the clear plastic wrap looks the same?

The Vermont food market offers an unending array of specialty foods but has probably achieved saturation in some areas.  Non-diet-specialized baked goods and sugary foods are saturated sectors.  I’ve been told that specialty hot sauces and mustards  the truth is that many people who buy lamb have a friend or neighbor who can sell it at hobby-scale prices.  It is fine with me that farms do that, but I know that it reduces my ability to sell meat in Vermont at prices that will sustain our farm without us also working full-time off-farm jobs.

Some of the common mistakes and a few brilliant moves are known to me.  I am not as familiar with perishable meat sales and distribution, though, and I worry about making similar mistakes to the ones I have seen.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things I shouldn’t do when I try to sell my lamb:

  • Under-price my product such that I wind up in a position where I lose customers when I correct the price later.   I knew a company that delivered their product for free and didn’t factor their debt into the price.  When they went back and recalculated, many purchasers reduced or eliminated the product from the shelves.  They simply could not bear the price increase and replaced the product with another that generated more turnover and revenue.  Pricing correctly requires a lot of calculations, sometimes with numbers that I don’t yet know.  It’s intimidating!
  • Put my eggs all in one basket.  Another company I heard about was lining up a large contract with a national retailer.  They halted marketing efforts because the retailer was going to purchase 75% of their product output and invested in specialized boxes that the vendor required.  The retailer only took about 1/3rd of what they projected, and the company had to scramble to move the rest of their product in a very short timeframe.   With a relatively small output of lamb this year but hopes for much more next year, I need to focus on sending lamb to growth areas and establishing relationships, but not running out of product!  Yikes!
  • Neglect my marketing.  One of the best efforts one of my prior companies made was to put lots of effort into reaching out to magazines and media.  They created their own niche by having a stronger media presence than some of the first-to-market competitors with smaller budgets.  It was really impressive to see the effects of that effort in sales effectiveness.  I haven’t focused enough on this because I don’t plan to market in my immediate vicinity.  Frankly, my immediate area is generally very low-income and might possibly find my prices and my Animal Welfare Approved certifications offensive or off-putting.
  • Fail to utilize my social media presence.   This farm has almost 500 Facebook followers and has over 1000 Instagram followers.  Woohoo!  It makes me incredibly happy to know that so many people care about the goings-on on this little farm.  But I think that I have more folks who love pictures of sheep than I have people looking to buy our yarn or our meat.  And the meat issue is especially touchy – I don’t post about meat because I don’t want to offend folks who would buy the yarn but not the meat, but the reality is that meat income makes this farm viable.  I started raising animals for meat because I wanted to eat meat raised to the very highest standards after 10 years of being vegetarian.  So I am not ashamed of it, but I am also unable to mobilize my social media effectively because I have a product that enough people just don’t want to see or think about.
  • Allocate my time and product incorrectly.  I want to build a presence mainly in the Boston and/or New York City markets, because I see that the Vermont market is pretty well saturated for lamb, generally.   But I also need to make the “longest dollar” for my efforts, which means capturing a maximum amount of retail sales.  The irony is that if I sell at a local farmer’s market, I will capture more retail dollars, but I will cut into my future salespower by not growing my market where growth can be achieved.   Does that make sense?  Let’s say I produce 30% more than I can sell at Vermont food co-ops and a farmer’s market, that 30% of my output might only last 3 or 4 weeks at a market in Boston.  Whereas if I sold my whole crop to one or two markets in Boston, that might ultimately result in no leftover lamb.  But then we are back to No-No #2, putting all of our eggs in one basket!
  • Making your sales work for you as money and media: I have a distributor in Boston that is interested in my meat, but I can’t afford to sell at the price they are currently offering.  When the sheep have reached a full population, perhaps I will be able to use them as an outlet.  The meat would also have their label, not mine, which doesn’t contribute to promoting my products effectively.

 

All of these thoughts seem to lead me in endless circles.  How to I launch in a place that I no longer know, with a level of sophistication that I no longer cultivate in myself, but do it in a way that I can continue to grow this business and sell more lamb in years to come?    Fundamentally, this is an issue of scaling up in a deliberate and planned way, which I understand is much easier to do with factories and widgets versus living beings.  Is it possible to make my longest-dollar by doing more retail in the short-term, while simultaneously selling to a distant market on a wholesale basis?

I would be interested in anyone’s thoughts and comments!

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Lamb sausages are really delicious.

More Goodbyes

Many of you who follow this blog know that Caseous Lymphadenitis has been an issue in the flock in the past.  After an aggressive eradication campaign, the whole flock tested negative in March.  However, my last CormoX ewe, Meadowlark, developed a very large and very concerning abscess on her cheek last week.  Even though she tested negative for CL three times, I know that false negatives are not impossible and I didn’t feel I could risk having her cyst bursting, spreading illness around.

We separated Lark from the flock, but realized that we couldn’t just have her in the barn all alone.  We had been on the fence about keeping Dalek after she had a premature single, failed to come into milk, and showed no signs of regaining any weight.  We decided that it would be okay to let her go at this time also.  So we transported both sheep back to the barn for a day.  We had an on-farm slaughterer come and the deed was swift and stressless for both sheep.  We got our answer about Dalek- massive lung damage from a bout with pneumonia.  We had noticed her wheezing a bit, but our previous vet hadn’t heard anything in the lungs then.  I assume that she had pneumonia at some point earlier in her life and was treated, but had sustained serious damage.  If we hadn’t intervened, she would have died a slow and agonizing death.

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That lump under her ear is bad news bears.  There is no recommended treatment for CL

I feel sad to lose such good ewes.  Both were devoted mothers and herd leaders.   I am so frustrated that this disease issue continues to worry the flock.  I am committed to eliminating it, though, for the long-term wellbeing of the sheep in my care.  I have to assume that any disease that packs the lymph nodes with nasty puss has to be painful as well as economically damaging.  I will really miss them both.

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The rest of the flock seems very happy out on pasture.   The grass is rich and the ewes are gaining a bit of weight to counter the pounds they’ve milked off in the last few months.  We also have our first new lamb in a while!  Sheppenwolf had a single ram lamb this morning.

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What a cutie!

 

 

Pasture and Fear

The grass ripened for grazing this week, and the sheep went on grass on Friday.  I have been watching them every moment since then.  I have been so anxious about putting the ewes and lambs out on pasture, which makes little since as we are a pasture-based farm focused on rotational grazing!

I worried that sheep will bloat during the transition from hay to pasture.  Ruminant digestion relies on beneficial bacteria populating the gut of the sheep.  They don’t adjust well to sudden dietary changes.  If indigestion takes place, the sheep will develop painful gas in the rumen that can cause death in an hour or two.  The rumen becomes so inflated that the sheep will suffocate!  So I watched the sheep on pasture like a hawk, even training a high-beam flashlight on them at night to check for illness.  So far, everyone has been fine.

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Pasture, Day 1

Another anxiety is whether the lambs will understand to avoid the fence.  Ideally, a lamb will touch the fence with his/her nose, get a shock, and jump back.  Usually, they run off with an offended “BAA” and learn that the fence is to be avoided.  But once in a while you get a special one who runs forward and entangles.  So I have also been watching the fence lines for stuck lambs.  Also, so far so good.

My final anxiety is about the season.  I am worried about whether I have correctly matched the numbers of sheep with the amount of land I have.  I am asking this land to support more than 70 sheep, but I am worried that I won’t have the fodder to support them.  In short, what if the grass won’t grow?  On this one, I am trying to just have a little faith that my instincts are good and the sheep will have feed enough.  The lambs will ship just as feed runs low in the fall, so I think I am in better shape than I feel like I am.

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Pasture, Day 3

Meanwhile, the sheep are filled with joy to be outside.  They graze in the bright sun and ruminate in the shade.  The lambs bounce and play a bit, but most are old enough that grazing is the focus of their day.  Each paddock at this time of year is approximately 164ft x 164ft, more than a half-acre.  The sheep move a little more than once a day, primarily because I am carefully watching the grazing rates.  It is crucial not to allow the sheep to graze below the growth point of the grass.

The following is from Beef Magazine, but is relevant to my project:

Research shows when up to 50% of a plant’s leaf volume is removed, root growth stoppage is about 2-4%. If 60% of the leaf volume is removed, root growth stoppage escalates to about 50%. At 80% removal, the roots have no regrowth.

I want to have strong regrowth, so monitoring is constant.  The sheep are really a full-time job right now.

In other news, we treated GWAR for a bit of footscald with a mediboot.  We caught her on pasture and put some nice treatment goop between her two toes and then stuck the embarrassing blue boot on her foot.  GWAR hopped away, bereft of dignity but will hopefully feel much better in a couple of days.

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Sue is still Sue – diving under the fence to get to the new pasture first.