Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lambing has picked up

Well lambing has picked up these last few days.  We are at about a 25 ewes a day lambing.  Had to set up more jockey pens.  Set up about eight more pens in addition to the ones we normally would have had empty.  This morning there was only three empty pens left.

Shilo brought Brooke and Kole over after school and they all helped a while.  We brought the drop bunch down the hill so we could move some bunches around.

Sometimes when we come back after a break, we go up on the hill and count how many noses are in the air.  This ewe is in the process of pushing a lamb out.  In the far right side of the picture is Bear
Butte near Sturgis.  The thunder storm cloud was our best chance of moisture in a while.  Nobody got much out of that cloud.  We got about seven drops of rain.

Here we bring the drop bunch down to the corral by the barn for the night.  Then we moved some more ewes and lambs up to the tin shed on the hill.  We already have thirty ewes up there.

Here goes the new bunch being let out of their small lot out into the big new world.  It is organized chaos for a while as lambs try to find mothers and mothers try to find lambs, all crying as loud as they can.
Brooke got to bring in a new mother of twins that was to scared to follow very good.  So Grandma loaded the lambs on the lamb sled and Brooke pulled them to the barn with the ewe following.

Brooke had a busy day.  She helped Grandma pull a lamb.  The ewe was having some problems having this lamb.  Usually they have  the lamb in about 30 minutes once they start the lambing process.  If they take longer we intervene and see what the problem is, before it becomes a big problem.

Brooke got the pull this lamb out.  A successful birth.  She was very exited to help Grandma as most days she has been in school and hasn't been over.  She informed me she has 19 days left of school.  Then she is done with first grade.

A lot of work makes one thirsty.  So I suggested the garden hose.  This was really fun to drink out of the garden hose.

I don't know what is so fun about drinking out of the garden hose , but it was really fun.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

calving and lambing

The weather continues to be warmer than normal and dryer than normal. The weather service says that January, February and March were the driest on record.  So I decided to disc the field that was too wet to plant last year.  The field worked up good and had moisture down in the soil.  So I planted my Forage Kochia and Siberian Wheatgrass  with a little Russian Wildrye.  All these plants are Alkali tolerant so hopefully they will do well in this poorly draining soil.  Now we wait for some moisture.  It could be in the form of rain or snow.  Right now we will take either.

When I was finishing planting Tammy and Marshall were working on the new fence.  They got all the wire up.  Now we need to put clips on the steel posts and build a couple of gates.

Then we needed to make the transition for the barn from a cow barn to calve heifers to a sheep barn to lamb the ewes.  So we drug the old used straw out and let the barn dry some.

Once the cattle panels are moved out and the old straw is drug out then the sheep panels can be moved back in.  When the ewes lamb they are put in individual pens called jockey pens.

Then the ewes with their lambs are moved back into larger pens that hold 10 to 12 pairs.  After a few days in these pens then they go outside in bigger groups.

Marshall finishing dragging out the old straw.  And yes it is a Massey-Ferguson 65 tractor.

We now have about 100 ewes lambed out and have started calving.  Then an old cow had twins.  She could raise both of them only she has decided to only love one.

This is her with the one she loves and here is the one she doesn't love.

It was suggested I try Craigslist to sell this calf, so that is what I tried.  As of yet no takers.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fencing and shearing

The weather for the most part has been warmer than normal.  The ice has thawed off the creek and the dams.  Tammy was out looking at the creek by the house and saw some beaver activity.  They have attempted to dam several new places in the creek.

There are about four new spots that the beaver have decided to dam.  The big dam is about a quarter of a mile upstream.  We will have to get the state trapper in here to eliminate a few beaver.  There are not that many trees on our creek so we don't want to loose what few trees we have.

When Tammy was walking the creek taking pictures a few cows became curious and came to investigate.

We have been building a new fence to make a calving pasture a little smaller.  We plan to put in a mile of fence.  So we got a hydraulic post pounder that plugs into our Kubota.  So I sit in the Kubota and follow along while Tammy hands posts to Marshall who puts the pounder over the post and pulls the trigger while engage the hydraulic lever on Kubota.

In one afternoon we drove in about a half of mile of steel posts.  Now we are waiting for a day that the wind isn't blowing 45 MPH so we can put in the rest.  We don't start calving till April 15 so we have time to get the fence all in before we need it.  There seems to be a surprising amount of moisture in the ground for as dry as the top is.  We hit some moisture with every post hole.

Then we got a call to be ready to shear sheep in four days.  It rained some the day before shearing so we had to put the sheep in the barn to keep them dry.  The shearers arrived Monday morning and sheared hard all day as it was supposed to rain by afternoon.  We had lots of help.  Grandson Logan was very interested in the activity in the trailer.

There was five shearers and two wool handlers and sackers.  The day was kind of windy and cool.

I title this picture "The Shearing Boss".  He watched the activity for quite a long time.

The wool handlers were sacking some wool and different wools from what they were sacking they just piled until there was enough for a sack full.  The sacks in the stands are for belly wool and one for dirty wool that is all sacked when the job is done.

The rest of the help pushed sheep up the ramp so they could enter the shearing trailer.

The llama had to come and investigate what we were doing with his sheep.

Now we are finishing calving heifers and getting ready for baby lambs in the middle of April.  The cow herd will start calving here in the middle of April. We went to town and got 90 sacks of sawdust for bedding the lambing pens. When we get the fence built we will be ready for all to happen.

Friday, February 27, 2015

KHAN the new guard dog.

Two weeks ago we got a new guard dog.  He is three quarters Akbash and one quarter Komador.  He is just a pup about eight months old.  He is getting familiar with his new surroundings and getting to know his new sheep.  We have him penned with about thirty lambs.

He is making friends with us.  We feed him milkbones for a treat.  So he comes on the run to get his biscuit.  We can almost pet him but not quite, but it will come as he learns to trust us.

Tammy is making good progress with their friendship.  Maybe she is not as threatening.

Then one day we bedded the barn with straw and set up the calving pens and the small pens for new pairs.

Then Ryan and Shilo had to go to their Beef SD class for two days so we got to babysit for a few days.  So the boys got to help us do chores.  It was nice enough that we got to use  the Kubota to feed cake to the cows.

Neither one, the cow or Kole are sure about this cake eating thing.  But the good thing was getting to drive the Kubota.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mid winter on the ranch.

Since Christmas we have had some cold windy weather and some really nice weather.  More like the roller coaster weather you would get in March and April.  We got the barn cleaned out during some of the nice days in January.  So it was warm enough to thaw the barn out.

Then end of January Tammy and I flew to Reno, NV to the American Sheep Industry convention.  Close to 600 sheep producers from all over the United States attended.  We toured a new facility that was making wool into house insulation.  They are a small operation that is just working into a niche market.

When we got back the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo was going on.  Tammy helped at the Farmers Union Booth a couple of days then prepared for the sheep shearing contest.  There was a sheep shearing contest with contestants from surrounding states and far away.  One shearer from Pennsylvania.  Two young ladies competed in the wool handlers contest, one was from West Virginia and one from Mississippi.  There was two local wool handlers.

This picture is from two years ago when the contest was in the Civic Center, now it is out at the Fairgrounds.  I didn't hear how many shearers competed, but must have been over twenty maybe close to thirty.  There are three classes, beginner, intermediate and professional.

Then the weather got warm.  Up to 70 degrees here one day.  We tore out some fence that the flood from last June had wrecked.  We never got around to fixing it.  Part of the reason was my hip hurt too much, but now it is pretty much healed so I can do about anything.  Marshall is here to supply some extra muscle.  

This is low wind break fence for a little sheep shed.  The tin is old cyanide containers from the gold mines in the hills.  You see a lot of fence on this place that is made of tin from the containers pounded flat.  They are probably seventy or eighty years old.

We got a new guard dog pup last week.  I say pup because he is eight months old.  He probably weighs 70 pounds.  We are working on a name for him.  He is protective of the lambs we have put with him.  We are all getting acquainted.  Hope to have some pictures for the next blog.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day

Well here it is Christmas Day.  Ryan and his family headed to Nebraska for Christmas and will back after Christmas.  So I guess Tammy and I are ones who stay home and take care of the livestock.  Marshall has been helping us while I am recuperating from hip replacement surgery.  He was going to his Grandmothers for dinner in Sturgis, but the snow storm that came in last night canceled those plans.

Early this morning we had light snow and maybe an inch accumulated.  No wind made it pretty pleasant outside.  The temperature was 29 degrees which is pleasant for this time of year.  But after sun-up the wind picked up and it snowed harder.

We have been feeding cake to the sheep every other day and hay every day to them.  They are just ending their breeding season so need the extra nutrition.  The cows are still out grazing and eating lick tubs.

As you can see with the snow from the storm from last week and what we got this morning we still don't have much snow.  The roads have some icy patches so it is winter time driving conditions.  The Black Hills ski slopes and snowmobile trails have good snow so they are happy.  They got a good foot last week and looking to get a foot today.

Marshall has been building sheep grain feeding troughs and sheep panels up in the barn. I have been working in the shop welding tabs on some new stackmover chain.  The chains need replacing so now is a good time to weld the tabs on.

So from all of us here we wish all a Merry Christmas and healthy New Year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Feeding tubs to the cows

The weather has been super nice for December.  No wind and lots of sunshine.  The temperatures have been in the high 50's out here on the prairie.  We have been feeding the cows a protein supplement in the form of a grain cube we call "cake".  The supplementing of protein helps the cattle digest the coarse dried grass  that has grown through the summer.  The grass has now dried and cured and is ready to be grazed throughout the winter.  Until the snow comes and covers it too deep for the cattle to readily graze.   The weatherman says we are in El Nino, which for us means mild temperatures and dry moisture conditions.

We run out of cake and can't get more till early January.  So we go to plan B.  Which is feed lick tubs.

As you can see we have plenty of grass.  The lic tubs are scattered throughout the pasture so that the cows scatter all over the pasture to eat grass and have a convenient place to lic some protein.

I does make life easy to have a flowing creek that runs about a mile through the winter pasture.  It keeps flowing and it will have to be really cold before it would freeze over so the cattle could not drink.  The alternative for water is a steel tank by a hydrant for water.

The cow were pretty scattered out this morning.  But when the saw me they thought of their cake and came on the run.  Marshall and Tammy have been spoiling some of them by feeding them by hand so the cows eat out of your hand.  Some are very insistent.

This cow is trying to eat my glove off of the seat of the Kubota.  She thinks she has to have something.  They are very spoiled.