Sunday, January 25, 2009

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil

My Grandmother had a brass ornament of the three monkeys in the pose of the saying. But any one who knows their Bible and their goats know that these three will make noise, listen to noise and make trouble every chance they get. That's why I love goats!

Lucky Kitty

Starting from the top you can see our dog Rosa is fascinated with cats. I don't think she would harm them but really just wants to play, and even the boss with a camera does not break her concentration when she sees one. Below it is a sequence of shots which show how brave the kitten has to be to get by her on it's way to the safety of the barn. Sadly it shows how slow I was with the camera as between frame 3 and 4 the kitten jumped up scratched Rosa on the nose and then side stepped her and made it safely to cover. As Rosa weighs 50 lbs and the kitten barley 2lbs I'm thinking that one is a survivor and will be around for a while!

Signs of winter work

I went out and played with my camera the other day and set it for black and white. Yes I miss the old days of Ilford film 125asa and the 400asa you could push to 1600 for low light conditions and the best they ever made the 50asa which gave fantastic clear photos that could be blown up to huge sizes and still be clear. That was when it was an art form, now any idiot with $500 and a finger to press the button can do it. Thankfully composition is 80% of a good picture so it still takes a degree of artistic expression to get good shots. Not that the following fall in that category!

I just wanted to show you what I had been up to these wintry months. The top picture shows our barn which is now slowly emptying with the feeding of the flock, and the space will be used for pregnancy checking and shearing which will come in February and March respectively.

The second one shows some of the 60 panels I have recently made for use in the lambing pens in April when we start the annual ritual. They were made from used lumber given to me by a shepherd who was retiring, so my only expense was labour and some 600 3inch screws. Of course this does not include the Bushmills for pain relief after bending over all day to assemble them!

Monday, January 12, 2009

More Snow Photos

Note how deep it is on the top rail of the fence.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Frozen FYM.

FYM, that's what we were taught to call it at Agricultural College, dung ,poop or sh-t was not acceptable even though it was easier to write. The Lecturers did allow us to shorten Farm Yard Manure to FYM and thus assist our poor spelling. With all animal agriculture and especially in the winter with the grazing types we seem to spend most of our time forking food in and forking FYM out. When you add in the 2 or 3 tons of barley we will feed close to lambing time, along with the hay we are feeding for the winter we will have fed approximately 200,000 lbs of feed which means that there is a fair amount of FYM out on the feeding grounds. We feed most of the winter on the fields and move the feed around so the manure is spread over a large area ,then in the Spring we harrow it to spread and break it down, a few weeks later all you can see is a lovely green pasture that has been well fed.
We have fed on the field now for 12 years and it really saves on work , both in the winter by not having to deal with barns and bedding,and in the spring or summer when you have to clean out and spread the manure. Feeding in the field eliminates two expensive operations and allows the livestock to do the work for you.
It is a pleasure to be back with sheep as it is a nice smooth ride over the frozen ground. Sheep poo you see is the size of fat smarties (they are all brown, no blue ones)and they are found in hand fulls of little round balls. Driving over them is no problem. At the old ranch in Manitoba we fed cattle out in the field and at that time we had a 50 horse power David Brown tractor and packed 1200 lb bales out to the cows. Now cows as most of you know don't deposit smarties, just lumps the size of curling rocks and about the same hardness as the Scottish granite they are made of,at least in the winter when frozen, (in the summer it just squelches up between your toes, don't ask). Negotiating the little and heavily laden tractor over a boulder field of poo was always hard on the front axles which were carrying the weight of the bale and over the years I had to replace 3 stub axles, which although annoying was cheaper than a new tractor. We finally had a new four wheel drive tractor which made feeding a breeze as it was tough enough for the bovine excrement obstacle course.
Now with a new ranch and sheep the problem only occurs when on foot. All those frozen sheep smarties are the same as trying to walk on ball bearings or marbles. Add to the picture a 5 gallon pail or two full of rolled barley in your hands and 150 ewes all pushing a shoving each other and you to get in the bucket.Its not long before the smarties underfoot do their thing and you are under the flock covered in barley and have become their dinning table.This I learned the hard way on our first ranch some 18 years ago. We now have a separate feeding area for grain, the troughs are filled minus sheep and then they are let in through a gate which is opened carefully as a woolly torrent roars through the opening to devour the goodies. Much like a firework rocket, light the blue touch paper and stand clear!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Plenty of Snow


New Year New Bug

First of all happy new year to all readers, you will notice I wrote that in small case as I'm not to sure about what it has install for us. I am nervous to give it too much respect as I have a feeling it will not be respecting us. Yes we will get a few more wrinkles and grey hairs as is to be expected, but the whole Financial/Economic happenings are another thing,(note I gave them capital letters). There are so many predictions in the media and on the web you can take your pick depending on your mood. So I will not be making any predictions and therefore no new year resolutions, so that way it will all be some one else's fault!
We had all the kids and grandchildren home for Christmas and had a great time. The house was full of noise and a busy place unlike this morning as they have now all gone and we are faced with the empty nest until April. Towards the end of their stay we one by one came down with the Mother of all Gastric Bugs(lots of capital letters = lots of respect). If was a hard and fast 36 hour special that opened the sluices at both ends and as one daughter said "this is like getting Cholera". This was a "bug" as opposed to food poisoning as we all received it at different times over 5 days.
The only way I can tie the first paragraph with the second is to say that I would not wish this bug on any one.Except of course the greedy brain dead idiots who caused this whole Financial/Economic mess and especially those who received golden hand shakes for doing so. A double dose is reserved the the clown who worked 3 weeks and got a $25 million handshake when he was fired. Also a triple dose for the idiots that signed and agreed to his contract clause!!