Monday, February 16, 2015
We Got Snow and the Sheep Love It!!!
The snow started falling yesterday afternoon. At first it didn't look like it was going to do much but we had another band come through in the middle of the night and dumped about 4 or 5 inches of the stuff on us. Not enough to motivate me to getting the tractor and plow out though but apparently not enough to motivate MoDot to do so either.
You know there isn't enough money now for them to do those old out dated things they used to do, like plow the roads, at least out here. Maybe the main highway is cleared though, really no reason for me to find out or even care right now since the wife took the hint that I had hid her keys once again.
The only things I have seen moving on the roads today have been 4WD pickups and a couple of tractors taking round bales out to the cattle.
There was enough snow you can clearly see why I like to put an upper entrance on my bee hives though. This hive, Henricopolis colony, has an upper entrance hidden under the lip of the top cover. More than enough room for bees to exit if they need to and for air to flow but well protected so it doesn't get clogged up. I wouldn't say the hives are completely airtight even with the bottom entrance covered in snow but allowing ventilation keeps the bee ball inside from getting condensation dripping on them. Without an upper entrance I would feel compelled to go and brush the snow away from the bottom entrance which wasn't a problem when I had a couple of hives in one place but these days is more a pain.
Sandwich was really feeling frisky this morning. Running around doing the stiff leg jump and flopping up into the air only to descend with a headbutt onto what ever unsuspecting yearling target she had picked out. I am pretty sure she got bred this Winter but I doubt she has more than a single lamb. Sandwich is a Romney/Blue Face cross Mule. Not the best forager cross but they have the potential to become some huge ewes with nice colored wool for spinners and prolific milkers and lamb producers. Sandwich however lost her mother and never really grew well. We kept her for two years before allowing her to breed because she was so small. This year though she did grow enough that we thought allowing her in with the smaller Mule ram would be fine. The real problem with Sandwich is as a bottle baby she is extremely people friendly, fearless and mischievous to the point of being a real problem at times. She gets out more than the others, will wander all around the yard and thinks she punches well above her actual weight class. She puts out some nice wool though, the handspinners around here are always wanting her wool.
This is my new Ewe number 61. She is a Blue Faced/Border Cheviot cross which means she is a traditional first generation English Mule Ewe. As I have said before they breed the hill or upland ewes with the lowland Blue Faced Ram to combine the prolific milk and lamb production of the lowland breed with the forage ability of the highland breeds. I have to say their plan works because we have less than 10% of our ewes dropping singles. We have added in the Romney and the Rambouillet ewes to the mix to get a bit more size and color/types of wool. My Mother loves the Romney wool and the extra colors they sometimes bring. We still haven't settled on a third stage terminal ram breed yet and we may go non-traditional to try and keep the size and wool colors intact rather than just aiming for meat, forage and lamb production.
As you can see though the Cheviot Mules certainly are good foragers, in fact they like things like brambles and cockle-burs so much this years yearlings ruined their wool when they escaped into a patch of the stuff and ate it down to nothing. While it means we won't be getting any wool off this ewe this year I don't mind really because it is worth it if they eat those thorny plants to the ground. We honestly did a pretty good trade in wool sales last year from all the regional handspinners but not so much that I feel bad about trading a couple of fleece for cockle-bur removal services. It was only the yearlings that got into the stuff anyway and we only kept the one ewe this year.
Which leads me to rambling about plans. Once I get the new fencing in place we are expanding our flock once again, or hope to. We plan on adding a registered Blue Faced Leicester Ewe to the flock to begin kicking out our own replacement rams and possibly selling the offspring as well. We also are thinking about adding in a registered Romney Ram as our terminal even though that would be non-traditional but would once again add a bit of color. Color used to be an evil thing to sheep breeders but these days the hand spinners seem to be demanding it.
More plans. Always have to be thinking six steps ahead from where you are actually working. Another little skill of homesteading so you don't have to go back and constantly redo the projects you are working on.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!