Saturday, May 14, 2011

Warmer Weather

It's warmed up and dried out enough to start doing fieldwork.

Andy plowing

This field is going to be seeded to timothy, a perennial grass, a planting of which should last several years before naturally dying out and needing to be replanted or more likely switched to another crop.  Timothy hay doesn't have as high  a protein content as does alfalfa, but the sheep don't need the high powered hay except at late gestation/early lactation.  Sometimes - when the weather cooperates - we make enough hay to sell extra to horsey folks in the area.  We haven't been able to do that the last couple of years due to poorly timed wet weather.  I haven't figured out who to complain to about that to get better results :-/  We have needed all we made, and a late spring like this illustrates the logic behind keeping more than you *think* you're going to need.  The flock consumes about 4500 bales each year, all small square bales, all handled by just us.  Plow the field, use a disc, vibrashank or other equipment to fit the field (smooth it out), drill (plant) and fertilize, mow the crop, rake, bale, unload from wagon and mow it in the upper barn (not enough storage space in the lower barn where the sheep live), take it back out of the mow and bring to lower barn load by load as necessary, feed to sheep.... and then take the manure out and put it back on a field.  Ah, the circle of life.

It's much easier when the sheep harvest their own forage and spread their own manure.

Big rams on pasture

Unfortunately, they only get to DIY for about 6 months of the year.  Sometimes we even need to feed hay in the depths of summer if drought and heat keep the pasture grass from growing.

Holly watching the sheep

Holly says, "EVERY day is 'the dog days' around here."

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