Sunday, April 28, 2013

Got the sheep sheared two weeks ago.  They stayed white for about as long as they ever have, because of the moisture and the lack of blowing dust.  One year the sheep were black in about two days due to blowing dust.  Marshall came out and helped for a few days.  Put some skylights in the barn roof that had blown out.

Then we cleaned the inside of the barn.  Since the roof inside is low we use a blade on the back of the little tractor.  It takes awhile but we get it done.

It is on old pole barn so there are lots of poles to work around.  Some hand work in the end. It helps to have a little weight on the blade.  The roof is low so if you would lamb in the winter or in colder weather there would be less space to heat with the bodies of the sheep.  Most lambing barns had a  low roof.  The new trend in lambing barns is insulated and heated with a heater.

Once the shed is cleaned out it looks good.  We let the ground dry for a while.

Then it is time to get the tractor and bale processor and a couple of bales of straw and blow some straw into the barn.

Then we let the dust settle and hope it blew a long way in.  Our straw bales were three years old so they were really dry and blew really well.  Since we don't as a rule raise any straw we get straw when we can and as much as we can.


A straw bale blown in to the shed.  Actually one bale blown in each door.  Then when the dust settles some we take our pitch forks and spread out the straw to bed the barn.

A fresh bedded barn ready for sheep.  They will love there newly bedded barn.

Ryan is about done calving at the ridge. My cows here just started a week ago.  Counting the cows that we purchased out of Wyoming that have been calving we are over half done here.  Brandings have started.  Ryan went to one Saturday and one Sunday.  Tammy and I went to one today.  Ryan is going to get ready to brand at his place this week if all goes well.  We should get our first lamb any day now and it looks like the ewes will really lamb fast and furious.  Hopefully our help will last.

Since I am about out of cow hay I will have turn my cows and calves out and finish calving in the big pasture.  I will put them in the south pasture.  the only pasture with much water in it.  Not much green grass yet.  We are thankful for the moisture but have measured less than an inch in the month of April.  I took a sample of the water to measure quality in the south pasture.  It measured 3490 TDS (total dissolvable solids) Pretty high for this time of year.  Remember 5000 is the dangerous level.  I will be busy lambing so won't have much time to monitor a tank.

I was out driving around this evening and noticed our salt seeps.  It looked particularly big and really white.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It has been a busy week.  The snow storm of last week left us with 8 inches of snow and about 0.51" of moisture in the snow.  The grass is trying to start growing as the ground was warm from the week before.

Our cows continue to calve right along.  They did stop having calves during the worst of the snow storm, but when it was over they started calving again.  We did not loose any calves to the snow and cold.  It did get down to single numbers above zero for a couple of mornings.  Shouldn't be that cold in mid-April.

Even after the storm was over it kept wanting to snow about every day, but never accumulated any snow.  The calves were snuggled in the extra hay that was fed to keep calves dry.

Then we got a call from the shearers that they wanted to shear the sheep on Sunday.  Earlier the date they had given us was Tuesday.  So Tammy had to make a trip to town to get groceries for the shearing crew.  I had to get the barn ready for the shearing.  I make lots of curves and corners for the sheep alley to get to the shearing trailer.  With every curve and corner the alley gets narrower and narrower till it is narrowed to single file.  We put the sheep in the barn on Saturday afternoon.  It was supposed to rain or snow Sunday so we were prepared to shear Sunday.  Then Sunday the phone rang at 5:30 AM and we were told the shearing trailer was up by Buffalo, SD and the road was too icy to drive on.  The wind was supposed to come up and blow 50 MPH.  So shearing was called of till Monday.  We didn't get any moisture here.  Mobridge was reported to have gotten a foot of snow.  We let the sheep out to eat and then it started snowing about noon so we put them back in the barn.

Here the alley has narrowed down to three sheep wide.  Some of our valuable help riding the ewes down the alley.  At times our little helpers were all around so that it was hard not to step on one.  Too bad it had to be so cold and windy.

The ewes going up the ramp into the shearing trailer.  The whole side of the trailer folds out and becomes a roof for the two wool sorters.  They are two young ladies that keep the wool sorted.  They check for weakness in the wool fibers and sort out big chunks of dirt or coarse fibers.  The face wool is sorted off.  Then the good wool is put into the wool press and pressed into nylon wool bags that hold about 450 to 500 pounds of wool.

There were five shearers that each got at least 100 head that day.  A couple got over 120 head.  This would be a good easy day for these shearers. They arrived about 8 AM and got set up and started shearing around 9 AM then stopped for lunch and were done around 4 PM. And had packed up and left by 5 PM.

Here are a bunch of happy sheep that don't have to carry around their heavy coat of wool anymore.  They are clean and shiny.  They will stay pretty close to the barn for the next few days.  They are will get cold and chilled very easily so we need to keep an eye on them.

Today we took the wool to Belle Fouche to the wool warehouse.  It snowed and rained most of the way.
Here is Tammy standing next to a bale of her wool.  Most of our wool is the kind of wool that goes into military dress uniforms.

Here is some of the wool that is stored in this warehouse. A lot of the wool in this warehouse is of the quality for the military uniform.  If I remember correctly it is like the wool from this area makes up 40 % of  the wool made into military uniforms.

When we got home the snow was starting to accumulate.  We drove out through the cows to check for calves.

Here is a newborn that already sucked and was still pretty wobbly.  There was another one whose mother had chosen a better spot to have her new baby.

He was born in bottom of a draw in some tall grass.  I'm sure several more will be born tonight. At least it is warmer than last week.  With this snow - rain mix today we finally got over an inch of moisture totaled in 2013.  We are supposed to get more snow tonight.  Maybe as much as six inches.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Big April Snow - HA

The big long awaited snowstorm has finally arrived.  So far it hasn't amounted to much.  About four inches of snow this morning. Wind blew quite hard and it was 12 degrees, so the wind chill was cold.  Below 0.  Kind of snowed off and on all day, but no more accumulation.  There is supposed to be a second wave of moisture coming.  The radar shows it over the top of us, but it is not snowing..

I got the cows and the sheep fed this morning in the near blizzard condition.  By afternoon it had let up and we went out and checked things.  We are getting a calf every other day here.  Mostly from the cows we bought from Wyoming, but there is only 24 of them.  Our cows don't start for another two weeks.  Ryan said one cow calved last night and one today, so his calving was  slow also.  A good time to be slow.

I took a video of the sheep in the corral.  I locked them close in case the snow got warmer and wet.  Wet snow soaks into their wool worse and weights them down so they can't get up.  And being heavy with lamb and the added weight of the water that soaks into the wool they have a hard time so we just put them in the barn.  But then the barn gets wet and is hard to dry out later.  So if we can leave them out we do.

They are cleaning up the last of their hay and will bed down for the night in and hour or so.

We were scheduled to protest our tax valuations for the coming year today at 2:30.  It was storming early and was supposed to start again in late afternoon.  Tammy called the director of Equalization office and a new date to appear before the Board on April 17.  That will probably be about the day we will be shearing.

We got the soil test results back yesterday .  Since I have never done a soil test I don't know how our soils compare to good crop growing soil.  Our PH is evidently high at 7.6 to a field of 8.1.  Sodium is very high, Chlorine is very high, Iron is very high.  So we have to find a variety of something that tolerates a lot of salt.

I have been working for the last several weeks changing rear tractor tires.  One tractor had quit and had a good set of tires.  The tractor I was using had bad tires that were flat.  So we took off the good tires and took off the bad tires and put the good tires on the rims that fit the tractor that was running. The job took lots of different days but we got it done and probably saved $500 to $600.  So I paid  for my time and effort.

Been getting the barn clean and panels set up for shearing next week.  Hope this weather doesn't set the shearers too far back.  I'm sure they will loose a couple of days.  Hay piles continue to get smaller.  Hopefully with this snow and added moisture the grass will start to get some height and be good enough to graze.  Maybe we can turn the cows out to pasture in late April.  We will probably end up with about 400 bales carry-over.  Not much of a start for next year, but it is a start.