2020 Farm Update
Where did the year go? All of a sudden it's Christmas!
This entry is fairly jumbled since it's been started and stopped several times through the last several months. yikes!
Quick updates on the farm this year:
All 8 of the lambs are off to their new homes and have settled in well. I'm happy to say that they all went to loving homes where they will live their lives loved and cared for! I’ll miss the lamb races and general business of having so many sheep in the barn! I left their last bit of round bale jungle gym up in the run until October. The CVM/Romeldale ewes that we added to our farm used them after our lambs had left. I miss them! The last lamb left in June. I also sold a few of our mature ewes. I was sad to see most of them go since they have been with me since the beginning of this shepherdess journey. But I'm glad to have reduced our overall flock for now. We’re building a house on the farm and will temporarily lose one of the paddocks and part of a second when the septic goes in. These changes will also improve our genetics going forward. We did add 3 Romeldale CVM ewes - one registered and 2 corriedale/CVM crossbreeds. Should make for some beautiful fleeces! And we had a Romney ram lamb, Pax, from Love Ewe Farm again with fantastic genetics, join our flock. He's beautiful!! Yodi is a CVM/Romeldale ram that just arrived last week and is really something!
My goal overall is to improve the genetics of our flock focusing on fleece and confirmation. Romney's will always be my first love, but I am excited about having a finer fleece breed as well to play with. I don't know that I will ever think the CVMs are as cute as Romney's, but their fleece is so soft and lofty! Very unique :).
The flock was off pasture all of July. With temperatures in the 90s and little rain, the grass wasn't producing as it should. I didn't mean to, but I think I did slightly over grazed a couple of the pastures. Yikes! They are looking better now with the grass high and sheep are loving being back out! I bought 2 round bales for the sheep of great second cut hay and they seemed to enjoy it. Though I did catch them looking longingly at the pastures - a few mischievous ones we’re sticking heads through the gates to get whatever green leaves they could!
My plan was never to use round bales for the sheep. I have found very quickly how much I love them between less physical work and pressure to get out there and get hay out each morning. Sometimes with a toddler you'd be surprised how much of a challenge it is just to get out the door. I used a few at the end of Winter which my husband was always upset about. :) They were either blocking the run he needed to get through or a few inches of wastage left on the ground that needed to be moved, the lambs used the bale as a launch pad, borrowing a tractor and trailer to get the bales moved, the list goes on and on. But! I found a solution that is working well so far. I saw a thing on Pintrist about using the water tanks (I don't know what they are called - metal rack with plastic water carrier inside) where you take out the plastic liner and put hay in. At first I just filled the racks as they were, but Chase modified them for me so there is less wastage and it keeps the hay off the ground! It's wonderful!
Charlotte has had a lot going on this summer to say the least. It started with just looking for a cow farrier that would come out for one cow. Not that easy to find in our area. Charlotte's "bad" leg that had a previous abscess before I bought her had her outer claw growing a bit long. I finally found a horse farrier that would be willing to come and trim it up if he could. Two days before he got there she stopped putting as much weight on that leg and would shuffle that hoof as it was set down. There was an abscess again in the same claw as before. Long story short (maybe) I talked to our vet and worked with Charlotte for a week on pain meds and cleaning the claw out daily. A friend graciously helped me trailer Charlotte over to a cow farrier near by. Farm friends are the best so we don't have get husbands involved with every crazy livestock adventure we go on. HAHAHA!
My best friend, Jessica, brought her beautiful horse trailer over and Charlotte loaded better then some horses do! Just walked right in. Another moment that I'm grateful that we found Charlotte. She was loaded quite a bit during her show career!
Allen Livengood did a fantastic job trimming her hooves! I had no idea a lift for cows existed that turned them on their side to be able to work on their hooves. Charlotte has a bad toe abscess (part probably never healed from her original abscess) and a sole ulcer on her other foot. Allen put a block on the good claw to take pressure off the one with an abscess and then wrapped both with a poultice. A month or so after this the block fell off and
Her outlook is great as long as I can keep it "clean" and do regular soaks in Epsom salt and iodine. So far so good! Not to jinks it, but she's walking better then ever. Keeping a close eye out for more infection. Charlotte goes for a follow up trim around October and then again 6 months after that.
After struggling this summer with the hear, parasites, slow pasture growth, health of animals on the farm I'm SOOOOOOO ready for Fall!! I can almost smell the leaves and campfires!
We lost our male alpaca, Oak. I'm so heartbroken over the whole situation. In June I did vaccinations and deworming for the alpaca and Lily the llama. They had all been checked for parasites a few weeks before. Oak looked like he had lost a very slight amount of weight so I took a sample to the vets office. Barberpole count was very high so we dewormed twice more over a 15 day period. He continued to decline and we lost him 6 weeks later. He just never rebounded. I increased his feed and watched him carefully, but even with our vet involved he still didnt make it.
In the weeks before all of this started Oak and I had started halter training and really bonding together. I got him to stop kicking if you touched his hind end. He would come over for a scratch or hug as long as you had some kind of treat for him. He will always be known as the black dinosaur. I told Mason he was a dinosaur we couldn't touch because he loved the book "Never Touch a Dinosaur" and hoped that if we called him a dinosaur Mason would be less likely to touch him at the farm and not get kicked. Yes, yes, yes, I know! Mason is never left unattended at the farm - but man is he fast now! So I worked with Oak and he became the friendliest alpaca on the farm! Mason gave him hugs when he was laying in the barn and would give him feed. I teared up when Mason came back to the farm with me and asked where did the black dinosaur go? Oak you will be missed.
We're over seeding again this year. This time with more Fescue 32 and Persist Orchard grass. The pastures are so much better then this time last year so I can't really complain, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I sprayed for weeds in the paddocks a couple weeks ago and in a few weeks well be putting it out! Our struggle has been ground cover and organic material covering the soil. I've put old hay over bare patches with manure that have done well. We are putting chicken scratch over the pastures this month also and hopefully that will help with moisture.
Last week we had a shock. We lost Charlotte. I don't really know how to express her loss. She and I had a special bond though milking each morning. And even though we had our disagreements on what she was allowed to eat out of the side by side, I spoiled her. She was my favorite animal on the farm - or at least tied with Carson and Mitt. I loved her milk and that feeling after watching Mason drinking milk - that came from our cow! Or sharing yogurt we made with the family. My grandfather also passed away last month at 101 years old. He and I enjoyed talking about the farm together since he grew up milking cows and later raising Cheviot sheep. He loved buttermilk and would come to the farm just to watch Charlotte with her calf. Charlotte gave so much back to us. A sheep gives a return twice a year - through a lamb and their fleece. A milk cow gives everyday plus a calf. I miss her on the farm and was counting down the days until we had fresh milk again. She took a lot to feed and her bills added up for her foot, but to me she was worth it. We had just done AI again 2 weeks before. It's hard to lose them at any time, but a favorite....
I hope someday soon we have another jersey family milk cow!
The sheep are in one group now after they were separated into their breeding groups. Looking forward to lambs again in the spring!
There will be a post soon about our wool from this year that we finally got back from two different mills!