I spent about 6 hours mowing the fields this weekend. It was past time to cut down the woody overgrowth and encourage new, more palatable growth for the flock. Jim and I attached the bush hog to his little 18hp tractor and off I went…like a herd of turtles. 18hp is just enough to power the mower, but I couldn’t go too fast without bogging down the engine. It gave me some time to think.
- Crows are definitely bird-sona non grata no matter where they land. I watched Eastern Kingbirds and Redwing Blackbirds mob crows anywhere they’d land.
- When you start the engine of your tractor, herring gulls will arrive within a half hour hoping to see you run over something tasty. The gull tailing me was out of luck, as best I could tell. I never saw it land.
- Usually, my thoughts regarding the sheep involve phrases like “I really need to _____ “, “I should have finished ________ last week” and “I’d better _________ before ______ happens” and other behind-the-eightball feelings. This year, I actually feel on top of things! The lambs were weaned on time. I have a plausible timeframe for getting the rams away from the ewes, and an intriguing idea for this year’s meat processing. Once the rams are out, I can increase the grain for the ewe lambs and ewes, and hopefully get some more growth going.
- I am also pleased with how the sheep look. Everyone seems bright and healthy. The 4th Doctor is almost fat, the ewes all in good flesh and the BFL lambs are growing well. The only lamb lagging behind in either group is Mr. Peanutbutter. He was lean from the start, and an earlyish weaning probably did him no favors. He’s growing, nevertheless. I’ve noticed that “Failure to Thrive” is typical in an lamb or two from every crop in the Cormo flock, so I’m not as concerned as I could be. I’ll just file that under Cormos: Genetic Issues.
- The main pasture looks much better this year than it did last year. I mowed in time to head off the thistle bloom, so hopefully I can suppress the thistles (which sheep won’t eat). I also caught the bedstraw before seeds set, so hopefully that’s killed, too. The donkey pasture is as marginal as before. I’m not sure I can squeeze much performance out of that patch.
- I noticed two Bobolink nests with chicks near fledging in the field I mowed. I managed to avoid hitting any bobolinks, and also left patches of unmowed grass where the nests seemed to be. I’m hoping that’s enough to keep them safe and fed. I really couldn’t avoid mowing because I’d have no fodder in a week or two otherwise.