Sunday, April 1, 2018

Spring 2018

I haven't blogged in a while.  After two years of drought it was too hard to get motivated to do a blog.  The prospects for the coming year aren't a lot better, but we have gotten six inches of wet snow a week ago that measured about 0.60".  Right now the creek is flooding and the cows can't get across.  The snow melted in about a day, so the water rose fast.

I couldn't cross it this morning  to feed the cows.  But they come over to my side to be fed.  Then the water continued to rise, so they couldn't get back.

The water at the north creek crossing is even more impressive. The neighbor put this crossing in two years ago and it has never seen water.  It is a series of concrete slabs with two culverts to carry the water.  But now it is overflowing.

We lambed some ewes early in February.  Brooke the grand-daughter bought some registered Targhee ewes and we had a few that were bred early.  The lambs have been eating grain on their own and have been gaining good.  We weighed them a week ago.  We have purchased an electronic tagging system.  Every ewe and every lamb will have an electronic tag that is read with a reader.

The recorder scans the tag of the lamb.  Their birth date and weight is stored in the recorder, along with the mothers information.  Then we simply put the weight of the lamb into the recorder.

This particular lamb weighed 57.5 pounds.  You take the recorder and plug it into the computer and the computer computes average daily gain.  Used over time it will tell us which ewes are producing the better lambs and which ones don't produce as good a lamb.  We will be able to cull the herd accordingly.

These lambs are around 60 days old when we took the weight.  They are eating a lot of feed.  We mixed up a ton of feed the other day.  It should last them about 20 days.

Today we sorted of some ewes that Marshall had purchased last fall.  They will start lambing in a couple of weeks.  He can get them sheared and on a little better feed.  With the help of kids and dogs we run the ewes down the chute to sort them off.

With the added help Tammy was able to keep the sheep moving down the chute so Marshall could run the cutting gate.  It only took us less than half an hour to run all the sheep down the chute.  When you have good help and facilities it doesn't take long.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Summer 2017

I haven't wrote anything since last spring.  We has less rain in western South Dakota than last year.  Last year we were designated D3 drought by July 4 this year it took till July 27 to get the D3 designation.  We are then eligible for feed assistance for our livestock.  As soon as were eligible we ordered lamb feed so we could wean the lambs from the ewes and feed them better in the lot.  The lambs would access to better water, which helps them more than anything.  The cows have grazed every pasture we have, even our winter grazing.  We will sell calves a month earlier than usual so the calves will be lighter in weight.  The calf market has picked up a little from earlier in the year.

We sold two hundred lambs in July.  Much earlier than usual.  The lambs were only three months old on dry pasture on weighed 68 pounds.  It downpoured rain in Newell that day and flooded the auction ring.

Here are lambs walking through the water to get into the ring.  The water just run like a river through the auction ring.

We have vaccinated the calves with fall shots so they are pre-conditioned for sale day.

The cattle chute has a scale under it so we can weigh each calf.  The early calves weighed good, some over 600 pounds the later calves lighter.

We ordered a load of cattle cake.  cake is a compressed grain mixture that can be fed on the ground.
The other day when we fed cake it was soo smokey from the fires burning to the west.

You can hardly see to the second ridge over.  Maybe a mile and a half.  The smoke adds to the gloom of the day.  The air temperature was in the mid ninetys  for the last week and smokey.

We sold lambs last week in Newell.   The lamb market dropped over $10 per hundred weight since last weeks sale.  It looks as if it will continue to drop.

It did rain here yesterday.  .27"   so stayed cloudy and cool  which is better than hot and dry.

It snowed in Montana so should help the fire situation out there.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Surviving the winter of 2017

The evening of Christmas Day the wind hit and it started snowing hard.  We lost electricity about 6 PM.  The temperature hovered around 7* degrees above zero.  But wind blew at times about 70 miles an hour, so wind chills were horrendous.  By morning the wind calmed a bit , but still in that 30 MPH.
Got the tractor started with lots of ether.  Normally the engine heater kicks on at 4 AM, but no electricity.

We got everything fed that morning and got the generator going.  It is a small one and we only charge one refrigerator or deep freeze at a time.   So we keep alternating appliances.  Marshall and CJ amd Lily moved in with us because we didn't have a generator for their trailer house.  With all the cisterns at the deep well we get gravity flow water, so that helps a bad situation.

After the third day with no water we come up with a plan to water the cows.  Marshall took the chain saw and cut a hole in the ice.  We had the generator and a sump pump and a water tank.  The sump pump filled the tank in a hurry as it pumps like 20 gallons a minute.   We chased the cows to the water.  The water was of such bad quality that nothing drank.  They would rather lick snow.

Finally got electricity back on late Thursday.  So we were out of electricity for part of five days.  The veterinary came to ultrasound the ewes so we could sort off the early lambers.

The weather stayed so cold most of the month of January that we fed a lot of hay.  Normal winters when there is grazing I feed 3 to 4 bales.  Most days I was feeding 10 bales of hay.  There was snow everywhere so the grazing was all under snow.  I had to feed everything they ate.

Our diveway to the county road is 3 miles.  I would open the road maybe twice a week.  Sometimes it would stay open for three or four days before it blew shut again.  Several times when we would go to town for groceries and supplies, by the time we make it home the wind would come up and we would barely make it home.

We hauled bales from the other place to here because we were feeding so much we would run out before spring.  That was an iffy project because of road conditions.

By mid February the weather finally broke enough that the snow melted away,   There was very little run-off.  Either the ground was dry enough to soak up the water or the snow was so dry there was no moisture in it.

Yesterday Mar 5 it was 70 degrees by noon.  Today it is 29 degrees with a 50 MPH wind.  Gusts are predicted to be 70 MPH.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas storm

We have been hearing on the weather reports of this impending storm on Christmas day.  Yesterday was pretty nice.  Calm and clear and about 19 degrees.  By afternoon we had the east wind.  Which for us means moisture coming in.

This morning it was calm and about 20 degrees, but raining.  The cattle were getting wet.

When we fed the cattle cake things were getting icy.  It was more a misty fog early on.  But then about 9AM it started to rain.

Looking out the pickup window it was pretty wet.  Shortly after this picture was taken it started to snow.  It snowed hard then slacked off.   The wind is predicted to blow 70 MPH this afternoon.  Now about 2:30 the wind is starting to pick up.    Ryan has lost his electricity already and our electricity went off , but came right back on.  The way the weather report is the crews probably won't go out till late Monday or Tuesday.

The sheep are locked in the corral so if it gets really bad we could put them in the shed.  The cows can go to the creek bottom to stay out of the wind.  Luckily the creek is dry so the bottom is dry.

The temperature is not to get so cold so the wind chills are only to go to -15 to -20 below.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Winter 2016

It was -20 degrees this morning.  We had the sheep in the corral in case it really stormed, so they wouldn't drift off.  Did end up with maybe four inches of snow that blew some.  The weather man in Rapid City thought this was the first time since 2011 that we had been this cold.  We had had such nice weather through November that we should have got more done.

Here I had been feeding hay to the sheep for the past three weeks.  About the time we turned the bucks out to lamb in April.  They have been getting .7 lbs. of whole corn fed on the ground for the last month.

 The grouse enjoy cleaning up the kernels of corn that the sheep don't get.  We have 15 or twenty head of grouse.

We were having trouble watering the cows.  It was taking longer than it should.  Then over Thanksgiving three water leaks finally showed up.  So we got them all fixed.  The cows enjoyed watching the process on the one leak.

We started feeding the cows hay just before the cold weather moved in.  They were not too enthused to start with about eating hay.  They still had a lot of grazing.  Now with the cold weather and the added snow cover they like to come for hay.

The first time I fed only about three head came to eat.  

The heifer calves have been sent to the feed lot for the winter.  We had weaned them for about a month to get them started.  With the cold weather most activities have been curtailed except the usual chores everyday .

Friday, September 23, 2016

Summer of 2016

I haven't blogged since lambing, so I better try it again.  After all the rain in April it quit.  May and June were extremely dry.  By the end of June water quality and quantity were both becoming critical.  We tested water in the creek and dams and found TDS (total dissolved solids)  to be from 150 to 8500 with most of it falling in the 4200 to 4800 range.

Here Marshall is getting a water sample that tested 150!  It was a small water hole with red algae.  Our drinking water tests 1500.  We got tank out and turned on water to different pastures where livestock were.  The hard ones to water are the sheep.  600 ewes and 800 lambs are hard to water and keep them out of the tank.  Then clean the tank every other day, plus check it sometimes twice a day.

All this happening as we are trying to get the hay put up.  I square baled the hay to start with.  Bales were pretty far apart.  I said it would keep my bale count up.

The haying did get better.  Plus we have a good carry-over of hay from past years.

We got some lambs in and got the grand-kids started showing lambs.  They showed their lambs at the Meade County fair and did pretty good.  Then a few weeks later we went to the Central States Fair in Rapid City.  Competition was tougher, but they still did good.

The grand-daughter is in the middle,  there were like a dozen kids in the under 10 showmanship contest.

Tammy and I did something that we hadn't done for sixteen years.  We went on vacation.  We were gone for three days and went four wheeling in the Big Horns above Sheridan.

I tried a selfie.  It was really steep hill we came down, but is doesn't show very good in the picture.
We saw deer and elk and almost got run over by a bull moose.  By the time I got a picture he was just a speck.
Tammy though we need some registered sheep for the kids to show, so we acquired some registered Targhee ewes.  Then she bought a buck at the Newell Ram sale.

I went to Mitchell to get a four wheeler the other day so had to stop at Chamberlin to see the new statue called Dignity.

I think it is about fifty feet tall.  The day was cloudy and rainy, but still impressive.  I think it is supposed to sparkle in the sun.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lambing in the soggy spring of 2016

Well we have been lambing for about two weeks and are about half done.  The first days after shearing was windy and dry.  The dust blew and turned the sheep a dreary black color.  The one day the wind blew over  60 MPH.  We were in dire need of some moisture.

Then the weather warmed up and got into the 70's and 80's.  Lambing was looking easy.  Warm days and warm nights.  Marshall was night lambing and had a pretty nice time.  Then it started raining.  We got 0.65" one night and the wind came up, so Marshall had to stay up all night.  Then it got cold and snowed.

This is the scene by the troughs that we grain in.  Sloppy mud with snow on the hill where the sheep are eating hay.  You have to watch the ewes real close and bring lambs to the barn before they get chilled.  By the time it was done snowing and raining for several days we had all totaled 1.75" moisture.  The sun finally came out and dried things out and it got over 80 degrees the one day.  Now today it is raining and snowing again today,  Supposed to be cold and rainy and snowy all week.

The one nice day after I fed the ewes their grain the lambs started playing and running up and around the manure pile.  People ask about the black lambs.  These lambs are Ramboullet and somehow we get a black one every once in a while.

All the family that has an interest in the sheep went together and bought a bum lamb feeder.  It costs a lot of money but we don't have to feed bums.  You hook it up to a water source and fill the hopper with 25 lbs. of powdered milk and plug it in.  It heats the water, adds the milk powder and mixes the two together.  The end product goes through tubes to nipples and the lambs suck milk anytime they want.

Brooke is helping a bum lamb get started sucking.  It could feed three pens at once.  We have one pen of 15 lambs and a second pen with about 6 lambs in.

The grand kids came over last Sunday and helped clean jockey pens and number lambs.

Here I am numbering and Ryan is holding the lamb and two kids are running after numbers and one is watching.  Notice the bright light behind me.  It is a high pressure sodium yard light that burns all the time.  I mounted it in the jockey pen part of the barn.  It really lights things up.

Then in our spare time we drive out in the pasture with the side by side and check for baby calves.  Here is our first born from the cows over here.