Monday, March 10, 2014
First Degree Lamb Slaughter or my Wonderful Plan comes Together
The afternoon was much better than my morning to say the least. I got more done today than I have in the last two months I think. All first year bee hives that survived were given a feeder of syrup to go with what remains of their dry sugar inside the hives. I am pretty certain that although we will get a few more frosty nights I doubt the inside of the hives will get low enough to freeze sugar syrup this late in the year. I refilled the hummingbird feeders and the girls were actually hitting them as well in each location and every hive was showing lots of activity and plenty of girls coming in with full pollen sacks on their legs.
Pollen coming in means brood is being raised. The Spring build up has begun!!!!
By mid afternoon the temps were pushing the upper 70's and my mother came and found me out at the West Apiary to inform me that today was load up the slaughter lambs day.
I had forgotten about that.
She also informed me that I was going to have to do it on my own because no one wanted to be part of the sacrifice....
What friggin sentimental loons.
Now I must admit the six Whethers we took to the slaughter house have not made it any easier this time around. You ever heard that old saying "More full of it than a Christmas Turkey or Goose"? Well these guys have been convinced for the last few weeks that they were chosen by the gods to live a carefree life of leisure forever. They remained after the big market culling and they just knew they were left because they were such perfect specimens of sheep-dom and everybody loved them too much to see em go.
These guys have been running around acting like big wooly dogs for the last two weeks. One or two of them will climb the fence panels just to get their necks rubbed and my darling wife and mother have been petting them and hand feeding them despite my warnings. They even named one or two.
So be it....
I did not start this experiment in small scale farming to raise pets, but I was also smart enough to know I would not get the help loading up these critters I had been promised either. I have been well ahead of these people for over a year now and they didn't even know it.
When I put in the two temporary dry paddocks (They will eventually become permanent) I arranged them so each paddock had an entrance into the barn by putting a sheep door into a stall. The barn has eight stalls but one was converted into my tractor bedroom and now one on each side is a sheep stall. When I close off the center of the barn in essence I now have a series of compartments that allow me to separate sheep easy as taking your girlfriend to prom. They don't even realize what is happening. I simply let a few in the first door thinking they are getting fed, close that off and open the second door depending on who get's through I then take a bit of grain into an open stall and wahlah, the separation has begun. After the six slaughter lambs (that are now 11 months old) were all in one stall I arranged my gates so they had a straight run right into the stock trailer and I just lead them right in with a bucket of grain.
No fighting, no bolting, no running or wrestling needed. The last run is with others so they go with the crowd just like sheep were meant to do.
Mother and Wife did actually stand there and close the trailer gate for me. How nice of them. Then it was just a simple matter of running them up to the slaughter yard and unloading. Ya I know in a grid down situation I would have to actually do the dirty part myself but right now I am fine sub-contracting that part out, thank you very much.
In a day or so after I get all the bills figured out and poundage returns I will do a cost/numbers rundown but I am betting it comes out pretty reasonable.
I even had time to go back to the barn and get most of my repairs and renovations finished this evening that I need to get done before lambs start popping out once again. The ewes will be coming all together again tomorrow night and shearing day is set for this Saturday. I can't wait.
This is the break even year. Once past this year the numbers should start coming up to a slightly more significant profit margin if I have done my math right. The key so far is keeping enough stock that pay off against the expenditures of fuel more than anything else. Again though we have a real advantage in the fact that we produce all of our own hay. If we had to buy it it would take much larger numbers to break even. As I figure it going back to smaller cubes instead of the larger round bales will increase the margin significantly as well since it will reduce waste by quite a bit. That is a study for next year however.
I then retired to my porch as the sky darkened and watched the flights of ducks going from field to pond until the darkness swallowed them up. We still have some Canada geese around but for the most part the huge flocks of snows and blue geese have been replaced by Teal and Mallards now. A sure sign Spring is definitely here to stay.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!