Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dakota Sheared

Last week I finally got the sheep all sheared and Dakota our Shetland ram was the last. Only a whole season behind. Typically we shear in the spring. But, we've been so busy with everything, shearing the sheep kept getting put on the back burner.

Broke down and bought some Oster sheep shears. In the past we used borrowed shears. And before that there was a sheep group in our area that hired a professional shearer to come every year. People would come and bring their hand full of sheep and all together would make it worth while for the shearer to make the trip. The group no longer exists so we're on our own now.

Dakota has turned into a pretty handsome looking ram and has some very fine wool. In the past I've mentioned how we used to get everyones cast offs as far as animals go. Not so with Dakota he's a well bred sheep.

His base coat is black with the black face and legs. The wool ranges from a beautiful rich bluish gray to white highlights.

And I think he's got a pretty nice set of horns as well.

A friend and fellow CSA grower gave us her two sheep. Both females. One Shetland and one full sized sheep with a black face and white body, part Suffolk I think. Which helps the fact that we didn't have any female sheep born this year. Her Shetland came from the same farm we got ours from back in 2006. Her only stipulation in giving us the sheep is if we promise not to eat them. Since they are breeding ewes I'm pretty confident we can keep the promise.

We have over a hundred chickens out on pasture right now. Which is something we're behind on as well. I'm hoping to start butchering this coming week. Since we are behind on that we don't have an available chicken tractor for our newest batch, so we improvised with this dog kennel that we had. It's working well enough, just not as easy to move, which I do once every day.

We had Dakota in this dog kennel for awhile. When I move this pen I put my back against one side, lift and walk sideways to move it. Doing one side then walking around to the other side and doing the same thing. Each lift moves it a couple feet at a time. When Dakota was in it he used to like trying to ram my backside as I was pressed up against the pen. There was something about the chain link he liked to ram and one time rammed his way right through and escaped. I had to go around and reinforce the fencing by wiring it to the frame work. You can't see in the picture but he stretched the chain link all out on the side he got out on. Amazing how hard even a small sheep can hit. I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end.

Back behind the three chicken pens there are three more objects just barely visible at what appears to be the tree line. Which are no where near the trees as the hill gives an optical illusion. Anyway those are sheep pens. The Three Amigos (which I call three of the lambs born this spring) kept getting out of the electric fence so we put all the sheep in movable cattle panels. Our original ewes are in one. The Three Amigos are in another. And the two new ones are in the third. I move them once a day just like the chickens. Dakota is also in one off by himself and so is Shadow the little ram who was rejected by his mother.
In all I move 8 pens every day. It doesn't take as long as one might expect. I usually drive out in the pickup truck and carry buckets of water. Our sheep don't drink very much so two 5 gallon pails usually is all that is required. Sometimes it takes more if any of the sheep's water buckets get dumped over which does happen when they push the pens looking for the grass that's greener on the other side. And with most animals ( and most people for that matter) the grass is usually greener on the other side.

Speaking of greener. It is fascinating how intensive grazing does make the grass greener. I especially notice it with the chickens. After the grass grows back there is a marked difference between the grass that had the chickens on it and the grass that didn't. The grass that got the manure comes back a much darker green.


Got to see part of the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympics that's currently going on in China. Wow, what a show! I don't pretend to understand international finance but, I couldn't help but think, it was probably our money that helped contribute to such a gigantic display. Probably all those Wall-Mart tennis shoes among other things that us Americans buy. I wouldn't know, but I wouldn't be surprised. I can't stand the thought of our hard earned American dollars being used to prop up an oppressive communist regime but, one thing the Olympics does is put a human face to it all. And perhaps that is precisely the intent. You see people who put their pants on one leg at a time just like us. And you might forget the political and philosophical differences.

At the same time I'm finding it a little eerie that while everyone is mesmerized by all the pomp and pageantry and thrill of the competition, there is a ferocious war being fought between the ex-soviet republic of Georgia and Russia. In one part of the world people are participating in grandiose celebrations and in another people are bleeding and suffering and dieing.

Until Next Time


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