Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thoughts on Farming

This photo shows the ewe flock running up to me a couple of days ago. Our yard and farm doesn't usually look like this in mid-May. We usually have a lot more green grass.

The grass has been so sparse that I have just been letting the ewes and lambs have free roam during the day. There is enough grass over the whole 4 acre lawn to feed them, but not enough in any one paddock. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and last night we had some light rain. This morning it seemed as if the grass had grown overnight. Hopefully, I will have time to set up electronet for the girls today or tomorrow. I think it is good for them to have full range of the farm, but I worry about predators sneaking in at this time of year. I'll feel better once they are fenced in again, and I'll be able to leave the farm during the day.

The two rams are still in their round pen with hay feedings. I want to get them out on grass as well to save the last few bales of hay for emergency feedings.

For a while now I have been offering my white ram, Unicorn, for sale. Nothing definite has come of that so far. Last night, however, I was sorting through some recent snapshots and I came across this picture of Bam and Nadin. Clancy was looking over my shoulder and remarked that he liked the photo and he also really thought Bam was a good looking ram lamb. Clancy, with his Hampshire background, is still more impressed by meat sheep conformation than wool sheep conformation. Anyway, we were talking about how large Bam is compared to all the other lambs and Clancy suggested the idea that I could keep Unicorn and use him to produce butcher lambs.

I have been contemplating purchasing a BFL or NCC or some other breed to use on a few of my Shetland ewes. The extra money to make that investment just isn't there, though, since we are trying very hard to get the house finished. Unicorn, however, sires really big lambs; much bigger than I prefer Shetlands to be. And Bam is very muscular compared to Bombarde and his male offspring. So why not use Uni to produce butcher lambs? They would all be "big and white and meaty" compared to the rest of the flock. :) And since Unicorn has such impressive horns, I wouldn't be too sad to keep sending his offspring to the freezer.

What prompted this idea is the fact that I have several people that are interested in buying butcher lamb from me; and I really don't have any to sell. I would have to butcher a good ewe, or Unicorn to fill the orders. Bam isn't ready to go to the freezer quite yet. So the demand is there and I want to fill it. Plus, we are out of lamb ourselves, and I want to fill up the freezer.

I will continue to breed for fleece fineness and polled genetics using my very best Shetlands. But the other ewes that give me not so scrumptious fleece can stay and produce butcher lambs for me. I'm looking forward to exploring this idea.

No comments: