Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall on the Farm

Fall on the farm means the weather gets cooler (of course, the past few days have been in the 70's and it has been gorgeous!), the bugs go away - and we start feeding hay. This year we are feeding the large, wrapped bales that you can see in this picture.

I should have stood Nicholas next to the bales - or had him climb on top of them, which he likes to do, to give you a reference point regarding size. I guess you can see the barn behind the bales, so you can get some idea. In any case, they are big and one needs a tractor to move them around. Which we started doing two weekends ago, just before dividing our 80 "big, white" ewes into their breeding groups (also a sign of fall on the farm). After placing several bales in each pasture area, we sorted the ewes into three breeding groups. Here is group one, about half Coopworths and half "other assorted". As you can see, they are thoroughly enjoying their first bale of hay of the season. There are always a few sheep who must eat their hay from the top of the bale.

Group two contains most of this past spring's lambs and other assorted Polypays and crossbreeds. This picture was actually taken a couple of days after sorting. As you can see, they have pretty much eaten down their bale of hay. Shortly after this picture was taken, I opened another bale for them.

Group three is a smaller group, and here are a few representatives for them. They are some of our better lambers and they will be lambing on pasture in May, with minimal shelter and assistance from the shepherd (hopefully).

And here are the boys. Not a great shot of them, but left to right is Heinz (he will go in with group two at the end of the month); Val, our Coopworth ram, who is actually already in with group one (we gave him his harem this past Sunday); and Sammy, who will go in with the smaller group three, also in about a month. Val weighed just under 200 pounds when we purchased him, so, although we haven't weighed any of these guys lately, we think Sammy probably goes well over 200 pounds. So when he got a bit pushy on Sunday, I fled from the pen and left Larry to catch Val by himself. Well, what do you expect me to do? Sammy outweighs me by quite a bit and I really didn't want to wait and see which one of us would win in a pushing contest!

Now, at the other end of the "scale", we have our Shetland sire for this year. This is Eddie, who we brought home from the Sheep and Wool Festival in September. He was raised by Laura Matthews at Psalm 23 Farm in Kiel, Wisconsin. He is just a lamb, so probably only weighs about 40 or 50 pounds right now. Much smaller than our "big, white sheep". I am hoping he is fertile, as he will go in with his girls in about 2 weeks. His fleece is a bit finer than our girls' fleeces, so I can't wait to see his lambs in the spring!

And finally, a parting shot. After the leaves fell off the trees in the pasture behind the house, I noticed this hornets' nest up in one of the trees. We joked about donating it to the science class, but were afraid that if the hornets were dormant, they would wake up in the warmth of the school and terrorize the kids!

No comments: