Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Tough Day, and Looking Past It

On Friday, when I went out to chore in the morning, I found a dead lamb and my smallest ewe with its neck broken, but still alive. I am not sure what happened, but I suspect that the ram killed them. He likely hit the ewe while she was at the feeder and caught her head in it. This is all speculation, but I know there was no predation involved. I removed the ram from the ewes and removed the dead lamb and dying ewe.  I also blocked up the ewes and their lambs so they could not congregate with the rest of the ewes and risk injuring their lambs.

This incident with the sheep, was likely brought on by the sheep being bottled up inside for the last two months. The sheep are now going outside during the day. The ewes and lambs have a large separate outdoor pen adjacent to the ram and cattle pen. The weather has been a bit warmer, and that is allowing  the sheep to move around outside and get some fresh air. My only problem with the sheep outside is the ram has been chasing the cattle around and guarding the hay so they can't get any. It is very hard to work in the cattle and ram pen as well. The ram has too much room to move around, so he is prone to charging. I have been hit before in a confined space so I am not interested in what he could do with some  room to build up some speed. I had to bring the ram inside last night, into his own pen, just so I could get some hay moving done outside with the cows.

Some of the ewes outside eating hay with the ram on the other side of the fence

The loss of the little ram lamb was very disappointing. The ewe was not an impressive animal and was likely destined to leave the herd this spring anyway. I tried to treat the loss of the ewe as a learning experience. She did pass away a few hours after I found here. That night, my neighbor came over and we (pretty much all him) dressed her out. I am not a hunter, but I have an interest in learning about deere hunting and dressing, but I have never been involved in the process before. I audited a meats course in college, primarily to build some vocabulary and become conformable with some of the processes, but we never actually disassembled an animal.  The ewe had hardly any meat on her. My neighbor and I were both surprised how little she had. Fattening up on several months of spring grass would have helped, but  it would have made her into something I would feel comfortable selling. Both of my remaining lambs look more substantial then the ewe that we dressed out ever did.

I am pleased to report that  Super Tom turkey is doing better. He has been in a quarantine pen since my last blog post. I was afraid I was going to lose him, but I forced him to drink and then eat and treated him with some Penicillin. His is doing better now, but is not ready to leave his pen yet. Since Super Tom was treated with Penicillin, he will never be a food animal. I doubted that I would ever eat him anyway, but this seals that deal.

On other news, I have been chainsawing in the timber making a path for the fence and clearing out junky elms to make way for some more pasture. There are numerous stacks of logs and separate piles of limbs all over the place. I look forward to getting the stump grinder out there, the limbs burned, and the logs removed and stacked for drying. There will likely be some seeding work to do after that, but we will start  to have more functional pasture at our disposal near our buildings.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Farm Has Been Coming Second

I must apologize for not posting much recently. I have been spending considerable time working on items for the Iowa Network of Community Agriculture (INCA), cleaning-up a number of loose ends, working to hire several consultants, doing some board recruitment, and trying to organize a gathering next month. It has left me very exhausted with the whole thing. INCA has been going through a transition for the past year or so and I would like to finish that work up in the next six months so INCA can stop focusing on its internal structure and back on programing.  There are many things on this farm that have been neglected because my attention has been away from it.

That being said, somethings keep moving forward. I am still doing tree clearing whenever I can find the time for it.  There is an area behind the shop that has been getting a considerable amount of my attention I figured I would show pictures of the progress so far.

I also got the cattle back out side on Saturday. The cattle are picking though the bales and are now using the outside waterer.

Saturday was also Janice's baby shower. We have been keeping the sex of the child secret until the shower. According to the ultrasound it is likely a girl.  Consider slipping this in here at the end of the post as a test to see how closely folks actually read the blog.

On another note, Tom the super turkey is not in good shape. When I found him today he was have trouble with what looks like an aggressive cold. I have isolated him and put him under a heat lamp. I have my fingers crossed, but I am highly concerned for him.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Little Bit of Everything

Well the weather has continued with snow and periodic ice. Every time we make considerable progress forward on getting this snow melted off, we get some more. We had a rough spell with the ice a few weeks ago and lost power for 30 hours. We made do with oil lamps and bundling up for most of it. At least it was not so cold out that I was worried about our pipes freezing up.

About the time we lost power, I started working on finishing up our books from 2009 and getting ready to go in and get our taxes squared away. I have been chipping on taxes ever since and as the time has progressed, I have consumed more and more of the kitchen island. With 8 inches of new snow expected today and tomorrow, I expect to make good progress this week.

When the weather has not been too bad I have been out-side. I have finished cleaning-up the tree work that was started south of our barn building. I had to take an afternoon to clean up several large limbs in our front yard that broke from the weight of the ice. Yesterday, I stated working again in the timber, trying to remove some junky trees just behind our retail shop. That is part of the project to put-up fencing around the stream  in our property so livestock can't get down there and tear it up. I don't let livestock down in that area right now anyway, but the government wanted to have me fence the area to limit livestock access (I have some cost share dollars) and I wanted some subdivision fencing, so it seemed like a win-win situation.
South of the Barn (the old falling apart wood fence line is coming out soon)

More South of the Barn

Front Yard Mess Gone

The livestock continue indoors. I really want to move the cows outside again and moved their huts near the barn, but have not quite yet turned them out. I am running out of hay pretty fast now. I have two junk bails of hay full of stems down on our crop land. I have been trying to get the tractor running so I can go down there and snag them, but that has not worked out. Despite a new solenoid, the tractor makes more noise when you turn the key, but it still is not running. I may bribe a neighbor who has a running tractor to go down there and get those two bails. I want to put them in the cattle area before I set-up temporary fence around the pen and turn the cattle out into it

Progress continues slowly, but winter also continues with little sign of it braking. We shall see where things take us over the next few weeks.