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.

No comments: