Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hard Times and Choices

You order batches of chicks for the year. The mail man brings you these cute little fluff balls that make LOTS of noise. :) They totally depend on you for survival. They need a warm draft free area, clean water and food.

Our son built this brooder many years ago and it has served us well. We have made little changes to it over the year to make it more convenient, but by in large it is the same brooder.
One year something was tunneling up through the dirt and getting our chicks, so we poured a cement foundation. You have to figure out the problem and then fix it. Our first batch of chicks this year got attacked by something. We found some partially eaten bodies. Michael searched around the brooder trying to figure out how it got in. He saw an area where the chicken wire had been pushed out a bit. He fixed that area and shored up around the bottom. We did not realize how many chicks had been affected until we moved them out to the field. They were counted at that point and we had lost a lot. We ran our second batch through the brooder (they are in the field now) without any problems at all. Batch #3 is now in the brooder. Yesterday we found 6 bodies that were partially eaten. I am praying that there is not a lot missing again as we had to add on to this batch to cover our losses. Michael again looked for a point of entry. He really didn't find anything major, but again shored up the whole bottom. We will be getting our turkey poults soon. I hope whatever it is does not come back to visit.

I LOVE my sheep and lambs. My son never liked them. They were too loud for him. Also, we had goats at the time and the goats had so much personality and would come right up to you. The sheep do not do that and there is not a lot of personality shown. I love them anyway. Our sheep are Shetlands. They are a primitive breed that are very hardy. They are good for wool and meat and just general cuteness. For the last 2 years we have bred them to a Katahdin ram. A Katahdin is a hair sheep. They don't have the same sort of wool and it falls off rather than having to be sheared off. The wool is not really much good either.
Using the rams that we have did allow our lambs to be bigger and to grow out faster. I was talking to a local shepherd this week. He said that his lambs are at 110 lbs. at 90 days. He uses a larger breed of sheep, plus he grains them. Our sheep are grass fed only. He can sell his sheep at 3 months old, and we grow ours a year before we sell them.
God has sent abundant rain this year. Our grass is doing well and growing. We have lots of grass, but not lots of fencing or shelters to put sheep in. Our area we can graze them in is very limited. We have too many sheep for that area right now. On Friday my sheep celebrated "Get Out Of The Fence Day". I had to go round up sheep all day. The Wonderful Neighbor Boy came and helped me the one time. The grass was greener on the other side of the fence. We moved them and gave them more grass and they still were getting out. Lambchop was leading the way. I really wanted to keep her and breed her, but I can't have a sheep leading others out of the fence.

Yes, she is cute, but a stinker. :) So, the choice was made that we need to send some sheep to the auction. I always hate that part. They will be going this week. We are keeping enough to meet our orders and some Mommas. On the good side of this, Michael said I can put the money they bring into the cow fund.

Life is making choices and hard decisions. So is farm life.

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