Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Love is in the Air

The pastures of Premier are dappled with blue, orange and bright green smudges. The smudges are the ewes that have been marked by the rams this breeding season. Most of the rams have been turned out, but some were held back until early last week. Last Monday morning, Mike and I applied raddle marker to the chests of our three remaining rams. The raddle will give us the means to know which ewes have been bred.

Photo: Mike adds the first coat of Raddle Marker to our breeding rams. This is only the first of many coats for the season.

Monday's color of choice was blue, but during the past several weeks we have used green and orange markers.

Once the "boys" were released with the ewes, their noses were up in the air looking for that special someone.

Photo: This Ile de France ram is demonstrating the Flehmen Response, notice the curled lip and nose tilted in the air.

On Friday the rams and ewes were sent through the handling equipment, we documented the ewes that were marked by the rams. We use this information to determine when the ewes will be ready to lamb based on their 145 gestation period (ex. a ewe bred on November 5 should be ready to lamb on March 29th).

Photo: The raddle marker provides a distinctive mark for identification of bred ewes.

While the rams were restrained in the handling equipment, we applied more raddle marker to them, they seem to use quite a bit of the raddle marker.

At the East Farm, a new lambing/feeding building is nearing completion, the waterlines were finished Thursday, the window screens need to be installed and the electrical lines have yet to be run. Otherwise, the building is up and the sheep are now able to get out of the wind on the East Farm.

After playing "Love Connection", we brought baleage (hay silage) from the Home Farm to the East Farm. This will become a more common task during the winter when the pastures are covered in snow and the sheep are unable to find fresh grass.

Photo: Mike prepares some giant marshmallows (excuse me, haylage bales) for the sheep.

We unwrapped the bales and placed bale feeders around them. Once the bales were unwrapped, the sweetly acidic smell of silage permeated both the air and our nostrils.

Photos: The sheep decided that the haylage was indeed palateable and have since gone through several other bales. The bales are served in a Round Bale Feeder, not quite a silver platter but close enough.

Once the bales were placed the sheep were shepherded into the barn and after some hesitant chomps out of the bale, the sheep accepted their new diet and dug in. We'll have to bring more bales over in the next few days. This is our first year using silage on the farm, so feeding silage to our ewes will be a learning experience. We'll let you know how it turns out!

Photo: Dennis, Tracy, Mike and Patches hard at work herding the sheep.