On the farm

Winter’s Coming….

November is the time when Mother Nature reminds us that winter is on the way.  She gives a couple of warning shots first, in the form of snow squalls or sleet, to let you know it’s time to prepare.

Today is one of those warning shot days.  While the sheep are still roaming around outside, Sugar the goat will stay in the barn and complain. She hates precipitation of any kind!  Her companion, Spice, doesn’t seem to mind it as much.

Transitions

While everyone knows farming is weather dependent, this time of year tends to be rough. There has been a frost or two yet the fields are still mostly green. Are the sheep and goats getting enough to eat? I have to depend on them to let me know.

When I get home from work, if the sheep are loudly, insistently calling I know they are hungry. In years past we have purchased baled hay and fed about 2 bales per head per week. With first cut selling for $5.25 now, at the beginning of the season, it’s going to be an expensive winter without supplementation. I have been doing some research and it is probably a good idea to give them some alfalfa pellet for protein. At $10 for a 50-pound bag, it’s relatively inexpensive. The recommended feeding is 1-pound pellet per 100-pound body weight per day. While the goats were quite enthusiastic about it, the sheep were like “wait – this isn’t sweet feed! I don’t want this!” They were still complaining, instead of eating, when I went into the house.

Oct. 8, 2017

Not only did they eat it, they pushed the bowl across the stall and managed to close the back stall door! Not tightly, all it would’ve taken is a nose nudge to open it again, but I guess they couldn’t figure that out. So I crossed the stall to retrieve the bowl and open the back door. Two more laps around the stall and the sheep finally figured out the back door was open and out they went. I refilled their bowl, refreshed the water, and tied the back door open so they couldn’t easily shut themselves in again. The goats were waiting, front hooves on the fence, for their share of the pellets. As usual, Sugar tried to eat hers as fast as possible so she could try to push Spice away. It didn’t work. Spice eats almost as fast and holds her ground. Their water bucket looked like it hadn’t been touched, which tells me they are still grazing well.

Oct. 10, 2017

Maria the sheep met us on the front lawn when we got home, closely followed by her sidekick, Delta. After finishing the pellets, Maria gladly showed me exactly how she got out by going through the hole in the fence again. When she realized Delta didn’t follow her this time, she turned around and seemed very grateful that I held the fence up for her to come back in. Looks like a staple pulled out of the fence post. Easy fix.

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