Friday, August 29, 2008

IPE Sheep Show

We took a day off this week and had a family outing to the Interior Provincial Exhibition in Armstrong. I went mainly to watch the sheep show and to see how our friend Jo was doing with her Dorset's and Romney's. As Jo shows on her own it is difficult for her to handle four animals at once so she press gangs any one she recognises in the stands to give a hand! So I helped out with the Dorset's and Jo won supreme champion flock with them, though I don't think it had any thing to do with my showmanship. This is good news as we buy our Dorset rams from Jo and know them to be good as they throw nice uniform lambs. We will see Jo again in a few days as she will be showing at our local Fall fair and at that time will bring my wife a much anticipated black Romney ewe, who's fleece she will spin, hopefully to make me a nice vest for the up coming chilly weather.

Market Day

With the arrival of Twaal Creek Suffolk's we knew are pasture would be pushed to the limits unless we sold down some lambs or moved the sheep across the river. Moving across the river was not really an option as Rosa our guardian dog is still too small to handle coyotes and we need all the forage there for the expanding flock this winter. So the decision was made to sell as many lambs as we could to help the pasture out. They were sold to a local lamb buyer and most will end up down the coast in the lower mainland and Vancouver, have a nice BBQ you guys!

The lambs were ready for slaughter and had a nice finish on them which is good as all they ate was grass and Mums milk. This is thanks to their sire a Dorset ram who fleshes easily and does well on grass. We moved a trailer load and hope to move the rest in September with the tail end in October for freezer sales and our dinner plate.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Twaal Creek Suffolks

One of my several jobs is that of the Southern Interiors Grazing Mentor, which means I get to visit and help area ranchers with their grazing plans and problems. This can involve watering and fencing, grazing plans and seeding needs, and sometimes stock management practices. The program is ran by the federal government and is a great help to those who use it. Sadly it seems many have not heard of it or are just too plain ornery to have some one offer some helpful ideas, we ranchers are funny like that!!!

Recently I visited John at Twaal Creek ranch to look at how to better make use of his irrigated pastures for grazing and in particular the grazing of his sheep flock. John is at the age of retirement and that's being kind as he pasted it 15 years ago, but don't be fooled as I was greeted by an enthusiastic gentleman with a keen interest in all things agricultural and as a retired University professor a well travelled and knowledgeable fellow. In fact he shocked me by saying he was fluent in Farsi ( he had worked in Iran back in the days of the Shah) and called the sheep in Farsi, even more amazing was that the sheep speak Farsi and came when he called!! The day went well and after a walk over the ground and talking over of possible problems we laid out a plan and time table for reseeding ,fencing and rotational grazing. I had taken my laptop along and had shown John photos of our operation and how we manage our flock and grazing. Near the end he admitted the ranch was for sale ( I had seen the sign on the way in) and if it didn't sell he would implement the plan and if it sold he would hand the plan on to the next owner. This was OK by me as my main concern was the land management not ownership.

By now John had decided I knew a little about what I had been talking about and a bit more about livestock and sheep in particular. So he asked me straight out if I would like to by his flock, as he wished them to stay together rather than take them down to the stock yards and disperse them. I had to agree as they were a superb flock of commercial Suffolk's and were a healthy closed flock it would be a shame to loose the genetics. At this point I must say that Suffolk's are not my favorite breed, I have always felt cows should be black and sheep should be white but even I could see these were a great set of sheep. John knew he had me hooked so he struck with a price that I could not refuse, my prejudices flew out the window and I became the owner of a fine looking flock of Suffolk's.

The icing on the cake came several days later when I was arranging to pick up the flock. John was over the moon with excitement as he had sold the ranch the evening before, he had sold his flock to me and was heading to our local town to retire and as we were only 4 miles down the road he could see his sheep from time to time! Well I could not wish for a better neighbour or a more interesting visitor, and I began to wonder who was mentoring who but it all seems to be working out well. John called in the other day for tea as he had been to sign up for his senior's flat in town. He walked into the corrals, bellowed in Farsi and all his sheep ran over to great him.

The cream on the icing came when we were chatting and discovered we were both Quakers so now we can have Meeting together and then wonder out to the pasture and brush up on our Farsi with the sheep.

Enclosed a few photos, John is the fellow looking menacing and waving the stick, the fellow on the left is Douwe our truck driver who we will use again as he did a good job for a fellow who normally works with cattle.


I see its been over three weeks since my last post and I have been so busy I am having trouble remembering what happened and in what order it happened in!!
The three little pigs are no longer little and no longer three as we sold one to a neighbour who plans to BBQ him whole to celebrate his 40th birthday. I hope I get an invite as I'd like to sample the end product.
We put up our second cut of hay, without any rain and although the yield was not high the quality was great, lovely soft high protein calf hay, if you know what I mean.
Rosa our young pup is doing well and is now part of the sheep flock, she is not such a porky puppy now and is just starting the gangaly, clumsy young teenage period.
The big news in our family is the arrival of our second grandchild Joseph Robert, a brother for Bronwyn. My wife was over for the birth and then helped out our daughter for the first few days, I of course was busy haymaking, but hope to make the trip over the mountains to see our new addition soon. At the same time I am to build a swing play set for Bronwyn as a birthday present, so it will be a working holiday, but I will have a fun help mate.
During this time we also bought a second flock of sheep to add to ours but I will write about this in the next post. Hope you are all having a happy safe summer.


Well its very hot here and I promised myself that I would post on the blog when it rained. Trouble was it never rained but now it is so hot I still can't work so here goes.