Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On the Job Training

Photo: Stan with Thor, one of the many guard dogs protecting the flock at the East Farm.

Last week Tharren and I helped Stan do chores. The two main lessons I learned:
-->Why you move the guard dog throughout the pasture.
-->How to transport water without it splashing in the bed of your vehicle.

At the home farm we had to feed the feeder lambs, guard dogs, ewes with triplets (as they require extra "groceries") and orphan lambs. The lambs and ewes were located near one another, thus taking care of them was simple. The guard dogs are stationed throughout the farm. After crossing and recrossing several creeks and climbing several hills we finally took care of the guard dogs Sammy, Sadie, Grizzie and Grizzie's puppy.

The guard dogs have free rein throughout their pastures except for Thor. Thor is kept with the ewes on the East farm who are lambing or have lambs less than two weeks old. Why doesn't Thor have free rein of his pasture? We keep Thor chained so his presence will deter predators without causing undue stress to the newborn lambs and ewes. We moved him to a new location to try to persuade the coyotes that he is mobile and on patrol. This system has worked well for two years but we expect the coyotes to figure it out anytime.

We used a John Deere Gator to haul water from a nearby stream to Thor. As Stan put the semi-full bucket of water into the back of the gator he asked me, "How do you transport water without spilling it?" My suggestion was to drive very slow. But Stan dumped some of the water into a smaller bucket allowed the small bucket to float inside the larger bucket. We drove back to Thor without a drop shed.

On our way back to the Home Farm, Stan noticed a red Katahdin ewe with her triplets resting in the lush pasture. Stan remarked that if the ewe could raise all three of those lambs, she's definitely worth keeping around. I suggested keeping one of her ram lambs for use for breeding, but given the size of the pasture and number of lambs, it would prove difficult to track him down. Still, I hope we can track the lamb down to test his genetic potential.

Photo: The ewe with her triplets. With some skill and patience we'll be able to track her and her lambs down.

Within the next few weeks we should start making and baling silage. There will be a post on this operation coming soon!

Photo: Thor's presence near an old barbed wire fence provided an excellent reason to clean up a decrepit fence.