Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Last Surprise for 2009

It has been a busy day. I woke up and hit the wii fit first thing before chores. When I went out to the out building I had two lambs. They were not more then an hour or two old. They are two little ram lambs. They are all black with a white spot on the top of their heads. One has a white spot on one of his legs.

The ewe lamb born on Christmas Eve is getting along well and enjoys slipping away from its mother and romping around the larger pen with the rest of the sheep.

Janice and I also made a trip up to Paul's Grains for our local organic flour, organic rice, and local organic oatmeal. We make a trip up to their farm about once every three to four months to stock-up. We have been customers for three years now and we highly recommend them.

We also caught a movie and came home to a quiet evening at home With home-made ice cream. To the folks that read this blog and are curious about us and the progression of Wild Rose Pastures. Happy New Year, eat fresh and eat local in 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Surprise, top that Santa

I just got back from California last night. I trade chores with my neighbor to the south so he has been watching the farm for the past five days. I got up late this morning (jet lagged), cooked oatmeal, and ran into Pella to get my cats from the boarder and to run a few errands before the town shuts down at noon. On the way home, I did my neighbors chores before I started mine.

Needless to say, it was around 11:00 Am before I made it to my livestock. I fed the cows as usual and then I feed the chickens and sheep. When I fed the sheep, I noticed one was acting unusual. She was not eating, she was keeping her distance and bleating. I went to take a closer look and I noticed that she looked suprisingly thin in the flank. I walked behind her and noticed that her vaginal area was leaking a fluid and her teats were full. I called my wife (still out in California) and asked her to google lambing behavior. After I got off the phone with Janice, (I was 90% sure that the ewe was lambing) my neighbor to the north came over to swap some deer jerky for some eggs. He makes some of the best jerky I have ever had. Anyway, he
grew-up with sheep and told me I was going to have a lamb today. We partitioned the ewe off from the rest of the flock and set-up a heat lamp. When we went into the house the hooves were poking out from the ewe. We came back about 20 minutes later (me with a handful of lambing supplies that I picked-up for emergency situations), the lamb was on the ground was on the ground and looking good (no need for the supplies). We waited around to make sure the lamb found the teat and got that first vital stomach full of colostrum.

I have not sexed the lamb, but here are a few pictures of the little one. On the farm it seems that this time of year has something special about it. Our first Christmas (2008) on the farm was when we got our first eggs and this Christmas Eve, our first lamb.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Little Work & a Little R&R

I have been relaxing a bit since we got some snowfall, but I have not been completely idle. I had a very productive Iowa Network for Community Agriculture (INCA) board meeting. We are a very small non-profit that is focuses on growing market, producer, and consumer opportunities and capacities on a local community and county level. If you want to know more you can check our website
I will be taking an order in tomorrow to the Iowa Food Cooperative (IFC). I cannot say enough good words to describe what a great set-up the IFC is for producers. The Iowa Food Cooperative represents about 20% of our yearly business. It has the potential to be much more, but that will depend on how lamb and beef sell though our existing customer base and if the membership for the IFC continues to grow. Right now, the IFC is a pretty busy or competitive environment for meat sellers. For consumers, the IFC has some of the best meat selection and variety of local meats that you will find in central Iowa.

On another note, I will be traveling a bit at the end of the week and into next. My neighbor will be helping me out with chores so I have been getting some things ready for him. I have a desire to play around with the tractor before I go. It has not been functional since late July. I have cleared the space for it inside (I hope it fits, because it will be tight) and I would like to protect it better form the elements.

That is all for now. Happy holidays.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow, Snow, & More Snow (Three Day Recap)

The last three days have been hurried and full of coping with the weather. Sunday night was round one of the storm. We only got around 2 to 3 inches of snow, just enough to warm us up. One Monday, I cleaner out the building. I still had brooders that had to be cleaned out and stuff to bring to move inside. I ended the day by buying, transporting, and unloading 60 small square bales into the building.

On Tuesday, I moved the sheep and cattle down from the hill into glen sheltered by cedar trees behind our house. I removed all the temporary electric fence on the hill (6 sections of 164 feet each) and reset-up 4 sections of fencing . I drug our two port-o-huts (somewhat portable livestock shelter) out into the new pen set-up. I pulled down the waterer, removed the extension cords, adjusted the reel that feeds the electricity to the fencing, and made dinner. As I was headed to bed, Nermal (our tabby house cat) was staring out the window and when I joined him, I saw the sheep in the front yard working through the now trying to eat grass. All you can really say at that point is "crap". I suited back-up, grabbed some corn as bait and brought the sheep down to the coral. I then threw then a bale of hay and headed up to see where the cows were at and find out what happened to the fence. Luckily, the cows had bedded down in the port-o-huts and the sheep wiped out 15 feet of the fence. I set it all back-up and went to bed. In the picture, the cows are in the sheltered grove with waterer (left), hay (center), portable fencing (in front), and port-o-huts (just to the right of the heifer).

On Wednesday, I had to deal with the sheep being way out of position in an area that does not have the best shelter. I decided to move the sheep indoors. In essence, I reworked the insides of the building to accommodate the sheep and dug paths to the garage, cattle paddock, and between the buildings.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Racing The Snow

It is coming, round one is here. We got 2 inches on the ground and 4 to 6 more on the way tonight and over the next few days. I took a few pictures yesterday of the situation before snow fall. I spent much of my time finishing the installation (tamping dirt around the base) of 5 remaining posts along a stretch of boundary fence and picking things up that are tying around (there is way too much stuff lying around).

I have sheep and cattle way to the north of the property. I have around an 1/8th of a mile of extension cord running from the side of our house to a water tank defroster that allows me to keep the livestock up there.

Today, I will be buying hay and cleaning out our farm building. If I have time, I will run some wire on the section that I finished with the posts yesterday. There is so much to do, and much of it will not beat the snow fall. Despite the complication that snow creates for me, it is lovely outside I hope to share a few pictures of the outdoors soon.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ram is Back & Busy

It has been a busy couple of days building fencing and traveling. Monday went largely to beginning the process of reorganizing the house for the baby, on Tuesday I was at a fund raising workshop representing the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture ( where I serve as the board chair, Wednesday Jim from Pella came out to help and a lot of fencing got worked on.

The sheep continue to graze the north part of the farm along with the cattle. It is getting more difficult to keep the livestock up on the north part of the farm as the water sources are freezing up and need to be broken-open several times a day right now. The ram came home today. Wow, he is big and he wasted no time getting to know the ewes. He has been rented out for a month and now home to earn his keep. Here are a few pictures of our ram.