Sunday, December 27, 2015

First cold snap of 2015

This morning was the first cold weather of this winter.  It was 15 below 0 this morning.  So we were a little slower getting started doing chores this morning as we let it warm up some before we went out.  Fortunately the wind was not blowing hardly at all.   The sheep had migrated to the south pasture in the last few days and they had come home to be close.

Christmas day we got several inches of snow.  It made travel a little slow for travelers, but we didn't leave home so all was well.

The cows were waiting to be fed hay.  We just started feeding hay last week.  The weather has been so mild and a lack of snow cover that cows were just grazing and they had protein lick barrels for extra feed.

They all stand lined up so they get the maximum exposure to the sun.  It was probably about 0 degrees by this time.   I led them further down into the pasture to feed the hay.  Some cows had just started coming in as they had been out grazing yesterday and were just now coming in closer.

They all like the hay they get.  The cows are getting about 20 pounds of hay,the rest of their need comes from grazing.  Here they string out eating the windrow of hay from the bale processor.

Last week Marshall "eyed" the ewe lambs.  This is where you shear the wool around the eyes and the top of the head.  So when they are out in the weather they can see after snow storm.  Otherwise the snow and ice can build up in the wool and blind the sheep.

Marshall went to shearing school in Hettinger, North Dakota so he got a chance to improve his skills.  He did a nice job and the lambs hopped and skipped they were so happy to be able to see every direction again.

Have to include my full moon picture from the other night.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Busy fall selling and weaning.

It has been a busy fall.  We got the lambs weaned.  Fed them for a month and sold most of them.  The guard dog "XENA" gets uneasy every time we work lambs and sell off some more lambs.  Her herd gets smaller and she gets anxious.

We got the calves vaccinated and have sold most of the steer calves.  The rest has gotten weaned.  Some of the bull calves looked nice coming in.  This one weighed almost 750 pounds coming off the cow.

We got the bred heifers brought in and sorted last week.  We will sell about 40 head and keep 35 to calve ourselves.  They have been running out in the north pasture and got a little muddy wading through the mud to get a drink.  Haven't fed them anything extra as the grass is still pretty green for mid November.

We took them part way one day as they are starting to look very pregnant.  Then brought them the rest of the way the next day..

The cows have settled down after the calves were weaned and are now down in their winter pasture.  We drove down to see how they were doing the other evening.  The old pets came on the run with their lips smacking for cubes.  Tammy had some cubes for them.  We haven't started feeding cubes yet and may not if the weather holds out nice.  But they remember from last year.

Ginger is quite insistent for her cubes.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Busy summer

Tammy went to Town and got some parts and sat in the seat of a new tractor and thought it fit her fine.
So she wrangled a deal and was raking hay and stacking bales in a few days.

Here she is backing up to the rake to go raking.  We ended up stacking a couple a thousand bales.  Then we used the little Kubota to run the square baler and bale 500 or so square bales of second crop alfalfa.

Then the girls got to stack the square bales on the trailer.  Here they are after a mornings hard work..  We were getting ready to go unload the bales in the barn so the sheep would have good hay when they lamb next spring.

Then for what ever reason we turned bucks with the ewes so we can lamb in February next year.  We turned the boys out for just twenty-one days.  Then this morning got them in and removed the bucks from the ewes.

Somewhere in the middle of haying I planted turnips and radishes.  I hope that by growing radishes and turnips we can loosen up the soil so it can take on more water and provide nitrogen as they rot next spring.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Moving sheep for worms.

We are trying something different with the management of our sheep herd.  Internal parasites or worms are a growing problem with sheep.  There are like two kinds of wormers on the market and neither product gets all the worms.  Each products gets some of the same worms and each product gets different specific worms from the other product.

So we worm the ewes after they have lambed and are in the jockey pen.  Then they are turned onto the fresh pasture.  As the lambs got big enough to go on pasture with their mothers they were gathered into one pasture.  They were in this pasture for about three weeks.

Then they all got moved to a fresh pasture around the end of  May.  Here they are in the second pasture.

They were in this pasture for around three weeks.   Then we moved them to a different pasture.

We have got them bunched and are just ready to head them through the gate.  They are ready for a new pasture.  It is always exciting for livestock to get new grazing.  They say the PH of their saliva changes with the anticipation of new pasture.

By changing pasture so quickly that you break the worm cycle. The experts say change pasture every two weeks. Then rest the pasture for at least 45 days to break the worm cycle. We can't seem to change that quickly, but we are changing every three weeks.  So we will see how it works.  We are sending fecal samples to the State University.

Here the ewes and lambs are enjoying their third pasture for the year.  The clover is thick and not as tall as last year so this is good.  They were put in this pasture on June 19 so sometime after July 4 we will move them again.  This time into a fourth pasture so the first pasture should rest for around 60 days.

We haven't had rain from last June 2014 till May of this year.  So we were really dry.  January through April of 2015 were like the driest first four months of the year on record.  From May 4 on we received over 8 inches of rain in May.  Now in June it keeps raining and we have another 2.50 inches.  Just stays wet. good for grass, but not so good for haying.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Update on the snow storm

The snow finally got the ground white last night about 9 PM.  The wind never got to the 55 MPH.  and we missed the heavy snow.  This morning it was still snowing and had accumulated  4 inches.  Ryan over at the ridge place thought he had 6 inches of snow.  The temperature only got down to 31 degrees. Since this weather began last Monday we have over 2 inches of rain.

Our lilacs have been slow blooming and with being dry like we were the blooms were never very robust.  Don't think the blooms will be hurt too bad.

The ewes and lambs all spent the night in the two barns so every body came out good.  They were not very enthused about leaving the barn this morning because it was still wet and snowing with a 25 MPH wind.
I plowed the snow to clear a place to put hay.  That way the sheep don't trample their hay into the snow and mud. It takes a little more time to feed but it is worth the extra time.

There is a big pile of snow and old hay at the far end of the sheep that are feeding.

I guess I won't be grilling steak for Mother's Day.  maybe next week.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Just went through one of driest January thru April periods on record.  Then Monday May 4 we received 0.30" of rain.  Then Wednesday morning we got another 0.10".  Then the sun came out about noon and we were able to get the yearling heifers in from the feedlot.  The trucker was afraid of getting stuck, but he made it.

Got the heifers headed into their new pasture and about an hour later the rain clouds moved in and dropped and inch of rain.  We were out checking the cows and new calves when it hit.  We both got pretty wet before we got home.

Then Friday although we were under a winter storm watch Ryan branded his calves.  The day was warm and sunny.  He needed his calves branded so he could turn his cows out into a bigger pasture so he could quit feeding hay.  We haven't fed hay to our cows here since April 20.

After the branding we came home to start getting ready for the coming storm.  Saturday morning came with a light misty rain and a light east wind.  We got all the bunches of sheep, there are six different bunches, fed and then moved some around to crowd every one into a shed for the evening.  We are supposed to get from 12 to 17 inches of snow along with a 50-60 MPH wind.

We went out to get the last bunch that has lambs that are 2 months old.  They have been far out into the pasture.

This Tammy dressed to go after this last bunch of sheep.  This is the before picture.

This picture was taken 20 minutes later.  I call it the after picture.  We had just started gathering the ewes and lambs to take back to the barn.

There wasn't much wind so the snow was just falling down and melting as the flakes hit the ground.
When we got to the corral their hay was ready.  The corral is muddy, but all the ewes and lambs should be able to get in the barn if they want to.  Even in wet yucky weather there is still time to play king of the mountain.

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.