Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chores for a blustery day

The English language has some words that perfectly describe something and "blustery" is one of them. It is wet, windy and generally miserable. We are doing some repairs to the fire brick on our stove so the house is only marginally more comfortable without the drying heat of burning wood. So what do you do on a blustery day.... things that you have put off doing because it is too nice outside to miss an opportunity for outside chores. In this case it was vaccinate, hoof trim and weigh the ewe lambs and weigh the two remaining ram lambs.

The whole process of vaccinating, trimming and weighing the ewes was done in less than an hour and most of that was catching and moving them. Once we have all our chutes and tilt table set up we hope to cut that time down considerably. The ewes were all in good body condition and have gained at a reasonable rate. We don't want them to get fat so they are growing on mainly second cut hay and a small amount of grain.

The two remaining ram lambs were not able to compete with the bigger rams for feed and had not gained at the same rate which is why they had not been shipped yet. Now that they are alone and we have upped their grain and added a bit of soy meal their rate of gain as jumped with one gaining nearly a pound a day. They will both get shipped at the end of November.

Now into the house to add the data to the growth charts.

A blustery night is popcorn in front the TV.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sold Out- Hawk Hill Market Lambs

We are very satisfied with our first full year of lamb production at Hawk Hill. We had 8 ram lambs for sale and all are sold except for the one we are keeping for our own freezer (there has to be some perks to this job). One purebred, registered ram went for breeding stock and we hope he will throw as nice progeny as his father. The others have been shipped as market lamb and every one was pre- ordered before they were even weaned.

We already have some feedback (excuse the pun) from our clients and the consensus was "delicious". Even our butcher commented that ours were the best lambs that he had processed this year. It makes us very proud.

We have two more lambs to head to market, probably at the end of November. We also are preparing the hides to be tanned (two of those have already been booked as well.)

Our ewes are getting back into condition and will be rebred in December.... and then we start all over again.

We are taking this Indian summer break to catch up on winter preparations.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Steers are in their winter pasture

It is funny how we put things off because in our minds they are so much more difficult than they are in reality. Well getting our steers prepped for winter and in their winter pasture fell into that category. We have two yearling Angus/Ayrshire crossbred steers out on the back pasture. We want to get all the livestock in pastures close to the barn with good run in shelters to protect them from the winter storms. We have put it off for the last week but with heavy frosts for the last two nights we couldn't put it off any longer. So Bob, Kayleigh (a neighbor that works here on a part time basis) and I headed out to the pasture. We drove the "boys" into a stall in the barn. We dewormed and vaccinated them and drove them into their winter pasture. No muss, no fuss and everything was done in under an hour. They are in a pasture with water, electricity, a round bale feeder and a shelter. They are all set for the winter. Here they are in their shelter enjoying a spot of sun on a chilly fall day.

Next comes the winter move for the horses.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Don't clash with Titan

This is Titan, our Maremma livestock guardian dog. He is gentle and loving with us but I sure would not want to be a coyote that tangles with his sheep. The coyote problem in Ontario is increasing every year with more loses for sheep producers. This problem has a huge impact on your bottom line as a pack of coyotes can wipe out your yearly profits in one night of mayhem.
Enter Titan. He is a 2 year old purebred Maremma livestock guardian dog that we purchased as a pup with our first flock of NC Cheviots. While some suggest that the dog should not be socialized to humans, we have too many people visiting the farm to take the chance. Plus we needed him to come easily to our few basic commands. However Titan is not a pet. He is a working dog on duty 24 hours a day. He lives with his sheep and has developed an amazing communication with them. If he senses a threat, he lets the girls know and they all head back to the protection of their paddock and shelter at a dead run.

One night last month the gate to their shelter broke open. Titan rounded up the sheep, put them back into their shelter and guarded the door until we returned home. He certainly earned his chew bone treat that night.

While we have no experience with any of the other guardian animals we certainly can recommend a Maremma. And since we like him so much we will be adding another Maremma in a year or two to our staff.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall is here with a vengence...winter is coming

The one advantage to the arrival of winter is that you can no longer kid yourself into believing that you can: paint the garage and the barn, build a new shed, build a new garden, plant some fall vegetables etc etc. With the cold weather is the realization that winter is here and you can no longer prepare.

Our lambs are now weaned and slowly are heading out to either new homes (or new freezers). We sold one purebred Tunis as a breeding ram and while are still open to sell the other Tunis ewe lambs we have no problem keeping them ourselves.

We just purchased a new Terminal ram - Winston is a purebred Hampshire ram that is long as a freight train and promises to add a lot of meat on our market lambs.

Our horses are content being pasture potatoes and we have not had time to do much other than that. Two are heading out for retraining this winter.

We have been trying to declutter and every trip to the dump, scrap metal, recycling plant makes me happy.