Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

This and That

Gracie peering in the chicken house door. She has jumped in there with me before, much to the consternation of the chickens!

Not too much of note going on here right now. Keeping busy with everyday tasks and the rush of Spring. We got a really hard rain last night---several inches worth. We needed it so I expect the grass will really take off now. The grass has been slow to recover from the freeze, so the sheep are still picking over their winter pasture and eating hay. I had to un-wrap the wire panel from their big bale earlier in the week, since with the rain we got a week or so ago, the bale was heating up and I was afraid it might start molding. I keep a tarp wired over the top, but moisture will still seep in from the bottom and cause the heating/mold this time of year. This was the last big bale of the season, so for the next week or so, I'll have to feed the 'extras' (those w/out lambs) from square bales. I have some bales I bought during the hay scare that are a bit less quality and will feed them first. Mostly they just need something to root around in and feel like they aren't being abused and neglected. :-)

I'll start moving them onto pasture probably next week. I'm moving panels around at night now, working to get the ram's pen set back up and also some fencing around the lilacs to protect them. If I can get that all done, then I will be able to turn the girls and lambs out in front for awhile in the evenings so they can 'mow' for me. I always start them off a little at a time to avoid bloat problems. Fifteen minute increments is usually how it works. I'll also get them some bi-carb of soda, which they can eat free choice. This seems to really help them out when they are on new pasture. They will really scarf it down during this season. Anyway, a few minutes out on the front pasture until they are up to an hour or two, then, hopefully by then their main pasture will be ready for them to turn out on . (Trying to convince them that 15 minutes is long enough can be quite a fiasco!) Once they are out on the main pasture, things will settle down again. It'll be noisy and chaotic for a week or so as the girls demand to be on new grass ALL the time before they are ready.

It seems its never just 'turn them out' and forget about it---a person has to plan everything---like making sure the rams pen is fenced and ready so they can be put in there, before the girls are turned out into the pasture that adjoins the ram's current pasture, etc. etc.! :-) Step by step.....

I sure would have been in a pickle if my hay guy hadn't come through for me at the last minute! With the hard freeze, even some of the cattle farmers had to go back to feeding hay. I did talk to the guy the other night at a neighbor's visitation. He said that he was pretty sure all the lesepdeza got frozen off and probably was killed out. I told him I didn't care what kind of hay he puts up I just want some of it! I think the other options are brome and maybe some bermuda. We will see what happens. I plan to order about 50 more square bales and likely 10 more rounds just to make sure I don't run into the hay shortage situation again!

With the heavy rains last night we got a bit of thunder and lightening. There was one dramatic lightning bolt that took out my answering machine. I think this is the second one to expire in the last six months. I'm going to try and get a surge protector and see if that will help any. It's not that they are that expensive, but if you have to replace one every few months--well that is just silly and a waste of money.

I now have four little wethers looking for new homes! I made the decision to go ahead and band them since although they carry the potential for spots, they none had anything outstanding about them either. It's easier for me, since I don't have alot of acreage to raise a few wether's instead of rams. This way they can stay with the ewes until the head off for their new homes.
I'm hoping to get some of my garden planted soon, now that the weather has (seemingly) stablized. The yard needs its first mowing, the hay barn needs some cleaning out, the dogs need bathes and there is roving to roll and fleeces to pick! So much to do, so little time. :-)


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Glad to hear someone else is careful with the fresh grass! Of course, my girls don't have much to graze on in their little pasture; it's mostly for recreation and mental well-being. But last year, when I was taking my girls out on leashes to graze on lush spring growth, one of them got grass tetany. Is bi-carb of soda the same thing as baking soda?

Tammy said...

Hi Michelle,
Putting them on fresh grass is always an ordeal for me, anyway!;-)
I've not had grass tetany or any serious cases of bloat, but sometimes they do swell up a bit and I worry. Yes, the bi-carb is just baking soda. You can buy it in big bags (25 lbs?) at the feed store. A bag usually lasts all summer. I put it in the barn in feeders and they eat it free choice. Sometimes they clean it out. Its funny to see them all walking around with white lips! :-)

Allena said...

I haven't had any bloat yet, thank God, and I use the bi carb too, as you suggested Tammy. It does really seem to help.

I also out them out for short times at first, you have to do that with horses for the same reason except they call it colic.

Spring is always full of work.