OK, so the fence is in. Hatton's a pretty good guy, with a pretty good crew. Not fire and forget but not bad at all. I'd hire him again.
So James finally realized the sheep were actually eating the corn, we'll see what come s of that. I think it is occurring to everyone involved that I do actually intend to open a sheep dairy, as an agricultural business, here on this farm. Not a hobby flock, not a few pet goats.
Lambing has started. 69 had triplets, unfortunately she seems to only have enough milk for one. I've already got one in the house and I think I'll take the other poor one tonight. The ewe is claiming the second lamb but losing interest as the lamb fades; not waiting to let her suck, not calling to her. I got one of the fencing crew to give me a hand last night and we haltered her and held her while the lamb nursed; this morning she is doing a lot better but obviously still not getting all she wants. We'll see. My daughter named the first one Cutie Cute.
Part of it may be that I only got the feed out about four days ago. I did get the sheep worked (vaccinated for CDT and footrot) day before yesterday; should have been done two weeks ago. Also got the spring lambs pulled off and put in another field, now that I have a fence to hold them in another field. Makes it easier to check the lambing ewes, plus if any of the ewes doubled back and will be having a lamb this fall it keeps the spring lamb from starving the fall lamb out by going back to nursing the ewe.
Also should have been done two weeks ago. These spring lambs will be bred same time as the ewes, so the stress of weaning (plus being in a field with no feeder) will decrease how many of them get pregnant and the number of lambs with which they get pregnant. Plus if I had pulled them off a month ago any ewe whose udder filled up because the was still nursing her spring lambs would have had time to shrink back down. As it is I can't tell whose close to lambing and whose just full form being weaned. Not to mention the ewe needs a break!
Well, it'll be better next year. Not just because of the fence, but also because the utility contractor is coming next week to bury the electric line, and lay a larger water line that extends all the way to the barn. No more packing water! No more brownouts! Once he's done we can cut that leaning cherry tree which will let me lay gravel extending the drive to where the new building will be.
The only other job not done yet is for Bobby Leach to come fix up the barn- couple of broken stringers, rebrace the doors, missing cut gates inside, a broken boards, a loose piece of tin; gutters and a water storage tank if I've got the money. I don't know if he'll get here before winter or not.
OK, so I have been in San Francisco for the past week for Slow Food Nation. I definitely need to step up my timetable for the dairy. When you get out of your area of the country, especially when that area is somewhat isolated in its' foodways you see what's coming. The demand is huge. I also found out today that two small cheeseplants came on line within 100 miles of me in the last month.
My fences are all still down. Bill Hatton said it'd be another week yet. It would go faster if we got some rain. The ground is so hard he said he'd broken any number of posts trying to drive them with the hydraulic tamper; he even broke his tractor mounted augur. Of course it could just be he took another job and is putting me off- but the ground is very dry. One of the small viburnum I put out in the yard browned out in the week I was gone (viburnum is a native dogwood, very heavy bearer of small blue fruits birds rely on for a winter food source).
They also didn't bring any feed while I was gone.
Back into the fray once more...