Saturday, December 29, 2007


All the best to readers of this blog for the coming new year. I hope you had a good time with friends and family over Christmas and as you can see by the pictures we had a white one. In fact its getting a bit too deep now as I am plowing tracks for the flock, wish I could send you some!

The picture of Mnt Ida is the view we have all the time on our ranch , but in winter it is often covered in cloud, so this is a rather good photo on a clear day. The other shots show just how much snow we have (about 20 inches) and with no wind it makes a Christmas card picture.

We were truly blessed this year as we had all our children home plus our son in law and grand daughter. We are now content, over fed and in need of some exercise so I guess its time for those silly new year resolutions!!

Commute with a view

This is the view from my kitchen and my route to "work" made very pretty by the steady snowfall over Christmas. The arch is made of lilacs and are a picture when in full bloom.


This is Freda our pet, so to speak, she always comes to see if we have a treat for her and so we always have a few alfalfa nuts in our pocket. When she comes to us, the rest soon follow so she makes an excellent "Judas" ewe and is bait for the rest of the flock . This makes moving and handling easy and is a lot less stressful for the sheep and me !!

Civil Sheep

Besides the arrival of silage there are two other focal points in our flocks day. One the mineral feeder,or as we call it the salt and pepper pot, the other is the log pile as its a good place for a rub and scratch. The pictures show how they arrive at the focal points and quietly wait there turn, there is no pushing ,shoving or line jumping. I can think of more than a few humans who could take some etiquette lessons from our sheep especially during the Christmas season !!

Monday, December 10, 2007

More River Bank

In the post before this one there was a picture of the river bank with a gap between the trees (scroll down). This will become a watering access point for livestock and will be 10 feet wide and fenced to allow stock to drink but not wallow in the river. The slope down the bank will be underlined with geo-grid and gravel to protect it from erosion. It will be put in soon so I hope to get a picture or two of it being installed so you can see what it looks like. We have already done one on our east bank and found it worked great with 90 head of cattle and NO erosion, its neat stuff.
The photos on this post show the bank with newly planted willow branches. These are cuttings cut from a live tree and placed in the ground, they will sprout in the Spring and grow new trees. The conifer trees are in place and will be cabled secure in the next week or so. The other two are cos I like life size Tonka toys!!

River Bank Restoration

This last two weeks have been very busy along our river bank, finally work is under way. The first week saw 30 plus loads of trees and 50 loads of rocks stock piled along the work areas awaiting the back hoe for placement. This last week the back hoe was busy setting rock at the base of the slope to slow up the current and stop erosion. Next trees are laid on the bank at an angle to catch debris and build up the bank so grasses and willows can establish. Willows and grasses are also planted at the top of the bank either side of the new fence, which protects the area from livestock. The trees will be secured with cable to the rocks so as not to float away at high water, this has yet to be done along with wire for the fence,but all in all a lot was done this week. Well done guys!!

Salt and Pepper

Sheep and cattle are no different than us, they like their condiments, so good stock men always ensure there is a salt and mineral mix available for their charges. Unlike us, it is not sprinkled on their feed or over the pasture but placed for easy access where the ewes can nibble or in most cases lick salt and a mineral vitamin mix much the same as folks take their take their once a day multi vitamin pill. Loose salt and minerals are better for sheep than the large lick blocks that are often seen in cows fields. The problem is to keeping the powder dry so it does not turn into a big hard lump. Well the hardware store had a special on those garbage bins with wheels that you can roll out to the kerb for pick up. With a sharp knife and a shorty piece of re-bar I turned one into a movable dry mineral feeder which the sheep are now using and enjoying as an addition to the silage and the fresh snow they use for water,(they are to lazy to walk to the river).With a bag of salt and a bag of minerals totaling $60 its a nice cost saving device as we now have no waste due to moisture.

New Barns

It has been a mad rush to get my latest barns up before the ground froze tight. As you can see they are normal open pole sheds, but when compared to the one they back on to it looks as if they have shrunk in the wash! They are in fact three and a half feet tall and just right for a ewe and her lambs to tuck in out of the rain. They are lambing sheds and when I have built some wooden panels as pen dividers we shall have a total of nine lambing "jugs" (pens) one per ewe and her lambs. The ewe with her new born lambs are placed in these pens for one or two days to ensure all is well and the lambs are suckling and getting enough milk before being turned out into the field and a life of fun and frolic with all the other new lambs. Over half the "jug" is in the open and just the back is covered to give the lamb a break from rain or wind. I copied the idea from the Aveley ranch where the ewes came from, there they have many of these little sheds as they lamb about 1200 ewes. Originally I hoped to lamb out the ewes on pasture but felt it best not to change the old girls habits. You may be able to train old dogs new tricks with patience but I'm not so sure about old ewes!