Sunday, July 24, 2011

Water/Graze/Move fence/ Repeat!

That is the story of our summer. After a brutal spring of bad weather and very slow/no grass growth, we are in the swing of pretty good graze.

This is what a paddock looks like before sheep. Triticale,( a hybrd of wheat and rye) with a sprinkle of alfalfa and mustard. This was to be a field of sugar grass, but mother nature had her plans, and she killed that idea....literally. We sparyed to kill the alfalfa, but as i have said before, it is very tough to kill.

The alfalfa is great food, but the paddocks need to be smaller to prevent bloat. Just a pain in the ass all around as far as i am concerned.  Had the grass come in the first time, it would have shaded and killed the alfalfa.

This is a picture of a paddock that was just grazed and is getting water back on it.  As you can see the sheep are taking it down to the ground. We would prefer to leave more graze, but the mix of triticale, alfalfa and mustard, does not seem lend itself to leaving more residue.

This is a picture of a paddock that has been grazed 7-14 days ago, and had water. We have not put on any fetilizer other than what the sheep have left. We would have added some sooner if we had to do it again.

Added to the mix is the fact that the irrigation ditch next to our fields is "subbing."  Our irrigation water is pressurized( no pond, pump, well or open ditch) but some of the farms/ranches around us are in a different water district. The water in that district comes in an open ditch. ( This dist hopes to be all pressurized in the next year or maybe two)

These ditches did not have water in them last year due to drought and politics. That means that this year, the ditches leak/sub as a result of not having water in them last year. The alfalfa seems quite happy with the damp ground, but the triticale without fertilizer is not so happy.  On our pastures the sub just means damp ground, but no standing water. For that we are thankful, as standing water would not be good for the sheep in many ways.

We have had mastitis issues that we do attribute to the damp ground, this was mostly before the graze took off and we were not able to move the sheep as often.  Several of my neighbor do have some standing water in their pastures, and we have some in our dry land.  Not all of the our pastures have damp ground, but the water table in them is very high. This makes it tricky to water the areas that need it, because standing water can develop and "burn" the graze in these areas.

The ditch riders are working their tails off this year, and they do an excellent job trying to manage these year to year changes.  We are grateful that we have water period.

That is one of the many factors of this years graze season that is out of our control, so like the rest of ranching, we are just going with the flow...pun intended :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Need A Pick Me Up?

Listen here.....

No way you can not lighten your soul when you hear Van wail this....2.4  in Pee Wee Ellis will make you happy to be alive to hear this song :)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fat Bastards

Growing up my grandmother Williams was not a fan of cussing, and she had zero tolerance for it.  One day i saw her kill a spider( she hated bugs in her house, or dirt for that matter) and say "you little bastard!"

I was shocked, and immediatly pointed out( i was a cheecky kid)  that she was using a bad word.

My grandmother explained that bugs did not know whom their fathers were, therfore, they were true bastards. I went home and tried the word out on a bug in front of my mom....she did not seem to share my grandmothers logic :)

Last year my daughter Katy and i were driving through the sheep looking at lambs. Katy( then 4) pointed to a big lamb and said "that one is a fat bastard mom!" Now all fat lambs on our ranch are fat bastards. Grandmother Peggy would approve.

This year the grass has not been what it should be, with a very cold wet spring, and a new seeding that failed to come in. The ewes have been pushed, and have only this week had good graze. Our sheep are grass only, and these lambs will be finished on grass and alfalfa stubble.

This is our first year using Janet McNally's bucks, and i can say that  coupled with our Hamilton ewes good genetics, these lambs are shaping up nicely.  After a very stressful spring, fat bastards due my heart good.

Pics are all of May born lambs.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pretty Is As Pretty Does

Handsome boy kell and he can cover ground with these legs!
The working dogs got shaved this week.  We always do the older dogs, but this year i had Kell and Nellie done too.  I never could get a shot of Blue he is such a clown, and Kell was too embarassed to stand still :) Kell is built like a greyhound.

The smooth coats( Mint, Chili and Star) could not figure out what the fuss was about, but they were very suspicious of the new dogs :) Poor Bracken is the only dog with a long coat..may need to get her done next week...

Good things looks don't matter when you are a working dog!

Duster says "woaaa dude E A R S
Note Blue clowning on his back behind the girls

 Nellie "You lookin at me?"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mother And Daughter

I am starting to train the bitch pup i kept from my Mint X Rye litter. Bracken is 13 months old today, she was rested for a few months with a sore knee, then she was in heat and we were lambing.

I have put a few days of training on her this week, and i love what i see. Tonight i took her up to work 50 or so fresh fall lambs. It was a little over her head art first, but she got the hang of it. She is a thinker.

Mama Mint brings the girls up

Bracken  in the dust

Bracken brought the lambs down from the rise and they turned to look at her. She was a little surprised, but she paused and then brought them down. Funny the sheep knew it was not Mint.

I like to let the pup learn from the sheep when i can. I want them to know their job very early in our training. To me their job is to bring me sheep. I don't put many commands on them, and i like to see how they can figure things out. 

I don't push young dogs out and i don't worry about pace much. I do like a larger group of sheep for a pushy dog. That is a great way to let the sheep teach the dog.

Bracken has less tension than her mother, but very much wants to control the head( like her mom and dad and a trait i have to have in a dog). She has nice flanks and i predict will be a natural outrunning dog like her dad.