Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Surviving July

Spring has faded into summer heat. The livestock are still being run in a single group, and are cycling through the north hill for the second time this growing season.  I still have my ram in with the herd. I am not sure how to get him out and what I would do with him if I did get him out, but one thing is for certain I don't want to be lambing in December. If any one wants to rent him out until October, I don't charge much, just $5 per ewe serviced. He is a large black registered Katahdin Ram with RR traits. He is 6 years old and relatively mild for his age.

Water Supply and Power Source to North Field Paddock

The Cattle in the North Field

I am going to have to breed my cattle very soon in order to hit the right spring window. I would like to find a nice belted bull from a grass finishing herd, but if that does not happen, then I have a bead on a Red Devan Bull from a grass finishing herd that I will consider falling back on. What ever I decide, it needs to happen soon.

Five of the Nine New Lambs from the Black Belied Barbados Ewes

The Second Batch of Turkeys Arrived Last Week

The second batch of turkeys are already doing much better then the first batch. At one week they have lost fewer birds then the first batch lost in its first night. I am not sure we will start turkey pullets in June in the future.

Floating Corner Brace on the South Draw Fencing Project

Fencing continues on the smaller south draw. All of the posts are in and only six more corners, like the one pictured, need to be built before the stands can be strung. One the larger north draw, the path along the south side has been cut and some of the posts are now in. Once the south draw fencing is done, attention will return to the north system.

Just Outside the Chicken Building, a Spring has Formed

A problem that continues to get worse as the rains continue are the springs that have sprung into being in our yard. The worst one in just outside out chicken building and has begun to work its way into the building. About a third of the building is a muddy mucky mess. I have dumped over 500 pounds o lime in the building, but that is just not enough to stop the mess. Last night I started laying time outside the building by hand. Let us just say that it is an unpleasant project and leave it at that. I hope I get it all in this week. 

Hazel, not Liking Tummy Time

Hazel and I have seemingly come to an understanding in the past week. She is 12 weeks now, is taking her bottle well, naps fairly predictably, and is getting cutter and more expressive by the day. I look forward to the days that I am with her, even if little else happens on the farm.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bumps in the Road

Since the last post, we have had 3 more new lambs for a total of 5 so far in July. We  have taken our second batch of chickens to a new locker, Valley View Poultry Processing outside of Bloomfield. I am very satisfied with this new locker. The day went well, but it ended poorly when the truck died outside of Oskaloosa so it had to be hauled back to Pella. From Pella, the chickens were moved onto my second truck and brought home to freeze down. I am very glad that I pack birds with dry ice so I have that much more cooling power. Two years ago, I had a truck break down in western Iowa on the way back from the locker, so I have a little experience in this department.                                                      

New Packaging Appearance

The day before I went to the locker, our big electric fence energizer died.  The energizer is the heart of our rotational grazing system and it is missed. I am glad that I have my old energizer, but it is only 1/4 the power. I hope to have the dead one sent away for repair since it is only 9 months old. These have been two bumps in the road that we have to ride out.

Next week we will be back to delivery runs resume again. Ames is Monday, Des Moines is Wednesday, and Pella is Thursday. On Wednesday morning, I also have to get my first lamb to the locker in Milo. I eagerly look forward to tasting how our lamb turns out.

Jim, from Pella, came out on Saturday and we made great progress on fencing. Jim cut a path along the south side of our large central draw and I worked on setting posts in our south draw.  I have set a few more today and I plan on a few more after this post. We are 5 posts away from having all of our posts in the ground on the south system. Then it is on to turning those posts into braced posts.

Hazel is doing well. She has been developing better motor controls and is talking more. We are still working on feeding from the bottle. She enjoys bouncing while standing and smiling at familiar faces.

Hazel Working Her Arms

Saturday, July 3, 2010

One Door Closes & Another Two Open

On Thursday morning, our 12 year old barbados ewe passed away. She was very intelligent and very pleasant around children. She unfortunately lost her lamb this spring and her body condition never really recovered.

We will miss you 

The next morning I went out to the pasture and we had two lambs out of one of the 20 Barbados ewes we bought back in May. One male and one female lamb requiring little assistance. Those ewes were under constant exposure so it is possible to have lambs at virtually any point.

Two little newborn lambs

Progress on the farm continues. Jim from Pella came out today and we put in a gate on the south end of the farm and ran some electric line. This morning my neighbor to the south, Jesse, and I moved bales from the neighbor to the north's field, Corny. We speed up the process by putting one in the bed of my truck and hauling the other behind a tractor Jesse borrowed. The bales we too much for my tractor. 

Turkeys continue to grow. We have struggled to keep them from smothering each other. All I can say about young turkeys, they are good at being cute and fluffy and at dying.  Losses have now crept up over 20%. We strive for 10% and build in a sizable cushion. I still enjoy them immensely. I picked them some clover yesterday and the birds just went wild. They grab the clover leaves and try to run off with them. Next thing you know the whole pen is moving.

Turkeys love their clover