Sunday, April 12, 2020

Roller coaster week

Last Wednesday the day started out nice.  It was supposed to get cold and snow a bunch.  We moved pairs of ewes and lambs around to get them out of the barn.  If it did snow a lot it would be a few days before we could move them.  The barn pens would get full and backed up so we made room.

It did snow about four inches and got cold.  It was minus -3 the next morning.  That is about as cold as it had gotten all winter and its April.

I fed the cows that morning.  The grass is starting to green up and the cows can smell the new grass and they want to quit eating hay, but this morning hay was good
I have since moved them to a different pasture and they are content to be grazers..

Then we had to change the barn around and prepare it to move sheep through it so we could shear.  They will need to be able to get into the barn once they are fresh sheared.  It takes a couple of weeks for them to get toughened in without their wool.  Plus we are still lambing the yearling ewes, so have to keep them separate.

Shearing day arrived and we just had family help to push sheep.  The crew consisted of five shearers and two wool helpers.  The day was warm and calm.  Like 70 degrees.

Part of the crew push sheep to the crowding pen. Then we push them single file down the alley and up the ramp into the trailer.

This is part of my crew to push the ewes up the alley.  It really goes pretty good, once in a while we get a stubborn one.  We ate lunch in the barn.  Everyone could distance as much as the needed.  Once the food shows up so does the guard dog.

It looked like rain so we loaded the wool on the trailer and headed to Belle Fouche and the wool warehouse.  Due to the tariff war and the virus the wool market is non-existent. Our wool is high quality and typically goes to the military for uniforms and also the high end wool socks.

Wool stacked in the wool warehouse in Belle Fouche.
Now today Easter Sunday another snow storm came through and left about an inch of new snow

Monday, March 30, 2020

Late March and a nice day.

Had a beautiful day to lamb some ewes.  It got to 70 degrees, a little windy at times. In two days they think we will have six inches of snow.  We can use the moisture as it has been quite dry, but don't like that much snow.  The ground is warm enough it won't last long.

Got some pairs out of the barn so they can enjoy the sunshine.

The lambs enjoy the sunshine and it is good to get used to being outside.  We are lambing the yearling ewes.  These are first time mothers so it is good to take some extra time with them.  Most of them have single lambs, very few twins.  We don't expect them to raise two lambs.

Here are some lambs that are resting under the feed trough while their mother munch hay.  They are learning safety in numbers and having a trough for protection.

Granddaughter Lily is three going on four and she helps Grandma a lot in the sheep barn.  We went down to feed the chickens some of Grandma's worms.  Also gather some eggs. Eggs are not a problem for us.  The only problem is keeping up eating them.

I maybe should try to explain the worms.  Tammy has a large supply of worms that eat food waste and make compost for the garden and new plants.  She has two maybe three big totes of worms that she keeps feeding.  So if anyone needs worms I might be able to make a deal.

This is our chicken's winter quarters. In a few weeks as it warms up and greens up the chickens go into a portable cage that we pull around with the four wheeler.  This way they get fresh grass and bugs daily.  Later in the year I may show the chickens moving and how they enjoy being moved.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

I have almost quit blogging but, out of boredom maybe I will start again.  We are sort of busy lambing the yearling ewes right now.  Mostly singles and they are lambing slow, five or six lamb a day.  When the bunch of old ewes lamb in a month we could get 40 new mothers a day with mostly twin births.  Marshall sheared most of these that are lambing a couple of weeks ago.  He got a guy to help him that came out of retirement.  Marshall got over a hundred and the guy got 49.

This is a file photo.  I have a new phone and it doesn't bring all the pictures to the computer.  My old phone just did  it.  I don't know how to make this one work that way.

We were going to get a professor from North Dakota State at Hettinger to come down with their wool analysing machine to come down and do our whole herd.  He would take a sample of wool from each sheep and put it in the machine and it would spit out about six different numbers of the wool sample.  A micron number, a comfort factor, staple length, curvature factor and some other I don't know what they mean.  They NDSU has a travel ban on now.  Plus if he leaves Hettinger he is an EMT and would have to be quarentined for two weeks when he got back.  Also in most rural areas there is a shortage of EMTs.

We went to town for groceries on March 9.  Tammy bought like almost $300 of groceries.  They had everything we needed.  Flour, bread, toilet paper and all.  Then all hell seams to have broke loose.  We have stayed home and listened to the TV and social media.  She thought we should go for another run two weeks later March 22.  So we went early in the day, which for us is like 11 AM.  We have to do chores and get ready.  No potatoes, macaroni and noodles were picked over, tp gone,  no flour, meat case seemed to be pretty full.  lots of milk and eggs.  Only peanut butter was extra chunkie.  Some shelves were empty and I didn't know what they are out of.  Another $300 dollar trip.  Might be a while for we go back.

Two weeks from today we will shear the rest of the sheep and then start lambing them a couple of weeks after that. Wool has been a good price the last several years.  This year we were told earlier the starting price would be 25% less than a year ago.  The wool market is tied to the Austrailian wool clip.  So the Austrailian dollar set the price and It has fell this last week about 15% compaired to our dollar.

The cattle markets are so upset nobody is really selling or buying till things settle down.  Several auction barns in South Dakota canceled their sales.

I guess I will leave with a picture from last summer.  Sheep in the sweet clover.

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.