Thursday, September 25, 2014
Bees, Sheep and Alfalfa
We got the fourth cutting and baling off the new Alfalfa field finished yesterday. This time we used that old New Holland 283 square baler I mentioned we were going to try and get going again over a year ago.
The first three cuttings we had to round bale it and the last cutting didn't give us as much as we were hoping as we only got about 25 square bales total. The big round bales were put up so it should still save us from having to actually buy Alfalfa hay come the next lambing season though. It's hard to know how it will work itself out yet because there is so much more waste in the round bales.
Trust me not having to buy 50 some-odd square bales of Alfalfa that run anywhere from $6.00 to $10.00 each (or even more if you can find) depending on year will go a long way to extending the bottom line ink into the black. It did cost us a little over $300.00 to get that old square baler running again so if I eat that we may only break even but then the real savings should show themselves next year.
The Cutting Crew finally couldn't resist the temptation of the green grass just across the fence any longer and made themselves a mass escape yesterday morning. The cool nights have also started getting one ewe in particular a bit interested in the Rams once again as well. Not so interested that she stops eating grass but enough that she prefers to do it next to a Ram. This had the effect of making the Rams want to get out and the Bluefaced one almost made it out before I put a stop to that nonsense.
One of the Ewes also thought my new grape vines looked tasty too. I can't say I blame em their little pasture area was looking awfully dry and brown and dusty so I relented and moved em yesterday afternoon.
The forefront is what remains of their temporary pasture area, you can see how much taller the stuff is on the other side of the fence. The crew has gnawed it down to the ground. Those patches of green you see are so short there isn't even enough to get their teeth on. So I took down the fence and moved em into an overgrown section of the big hay field. We won't be getting another cutting off of it anyway and the part I fenced in for them is full of tall weeds we never mowed for hay. The girls whined and cried the whole time I had em penned in the barn while I was moving all the fence around. When I set em free I took the entire little flock for a walk through so they could see the new section and know where the fence was. This keeps em a good distance away from the Ram pens and if they get out they will only be inside the fenced in larger field anyway with no way to get to the road.
Since I have another six weeks or so before we move em into the Winter breeding pens I have also decided to start locking em up at night to make this last section of forage last as long as possible before they start looking for greener pasturage. I did have to leave the gate open for them so they have access to water and shade in the barn but at night I will just feed em a bit of grain and lock em in.
After we move the breeding Ewes in with the Rams and cut out the slaughter lambs from the keepers I will then have the Winter Bachelorette flock of Ewes that are too young to breed this year. My plan for them is to have the garden fenced in and let em forage in there some over Winter.
The Goldenrod flow is still going. As patches dry up new patches are coming into bloom and the girls go everywhere looking for it. I disturbed many of them while moving the fence.
Everything is still growing according to plan. Getting the baler up and running and bringing in the first square bales is a big jump forward towards overall self sufficiency although it still relies on outside fuel inputs. The solar powered fencing and rotating forage use is also proving to be a big move towards keeping livestock year round as well. I am getting some good working figures for how many head I can run and still leave enough pasture untouched for Winter forage. The problem is going to be reduced hay yields as chemical fertilizers become unavailable.
One step at a time.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!