Friday, October 10, 2008

Random Farm News

I used the zoom lens to take this photo looking South from clear across the yard. In just the past three days those pale green trees have turned a deep gold.

Unicorn looks very self-important, doesn't he? He's such a regal Sir. I get so set on my polled goals and then I pass Uni out in the pasture. Really, nothing is more impressive than a beautiful ram with massive, wide-spread horns. I sincerely wonder how I ever manage to make up my mind about anything.

The past two days have given us rain, and more rain. And more rain. I'm so very glad we are going into late Autumn with lots of moisture, but the driveway is all cavernous potholes filled to the brim.

All the 2008 lambs got their CD&T boosters last Sunday. The rammy lambs loved it...go figure. The ewelings are still resentful. I started giving the ewes just a bit of grain this week too. They are a bit flighty because I mugged them Sunday. They do manage to nearly trip me in their eagerness to mob the grain pans, however. I'm feeding equal parts whole corn, oats, and black sunflower seed. I intend to add more variety as soon as I can get to the good feed store. I know there are a lot of folks out there that don't feed grain. I do at different times of year when I feel it is necessary. I try not to feed that much. Mostly I use it to get the de into the sheep and to make sure they get some protein since our hay has very little.

In other farm news, our 5 hens went to live with my brother and his family at my grammy's old farm a while back. The three chickens that Todd already had apparently stayed politely behind the chicken coop all the time. Our hens have taken to roaming just as far, and just as wide as they did when they lived here. They like the center line of the tar road dividing the farm from a large suburban development across the road. The traffic is fascinating, I guess. Certainly, they never saw much of it here at Boston Lake. My brother reports that they have visited the development homes as well. Those hens are becoming mild celebrities over on the east side of Lake Bemidji. They have a small fan club. We are all happy for them.

The cool weather has also brought out a new wave of ticks. It's frightening how many deer ticks we've found lately. Tick control was one of the many benefits of having those chickens around. Hopefully, next year we can raise some new chicks. Fresh eggs and bug control are worth it.


Garrett808 said...

why did the chickens leave? Already to old to lay more eggs? Don't want to overwinter them?

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

We didn't have a good place to house them through the winter. (Last winter we spent a small fortune keeping a drafty shed warm enough for them-and one of them still got frostbitten.) And they layed eggs in places only the dogs could find, so we never got any eggs. We just weren't set up for them and we needed to find them a better home or just put them in the freezer.

Of course, they came from my nephew's kindergarten class so they were "special" to everyone. We were all just so thrilled that Todd and Sara (who ARE set up for chickens) were willing to take them in.

Tammy said...

Hi Sabrina,
You may have already covered this in another post (if so, just direct me to it, so you don't have to answer this in detail) ;-) I have questions regarding your feed--do you buy whole corn, corn chops and then feed oats and black sunflower seeds and mix your own blend? What do the sunflowers do--add protein or do they have other benefits with the oil in them? I have my girls on a sheep mix, but it is medicated and I'd eventually like to come up with something better. Thanks!
p.s. Uni is very beautiful--love that photo.

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

Hi Tammy,

I have always just mixed my own blends. I buy a bag each of the different feeds, measure out equal scoops of each into a bucket and mix.

The two guiding principles for me are really just gut feelings:

1.Variety has to be better than a single food. and 2.Our mineral deficiencies have me desperate to supply as many different ways to absorb minerals as possible.

The first year of lambing I fed no grain and my sheep were appalingly skinny at shearing. Second year I fed oats prior to lambing and had a ewe get milk fever/ketone problems because she wasn't getting enough "calories" Third year I gave all the ewes a break and only bred one "new to my farm" ewe. Fourth year I fed corn for "calories" and had major selenium deficiency. In my research on the deficiencies we've discovered, I learned that straight corn can interfere with manganese (if I remember right) and that is what the vet is telling me my major problem is now that we have started feeding a high quality organic Selenium yeast suppliment in addition to good mineral.

So....this year I'm supplimenting with a wide variety of grains that I mix myself. I would gladly buy a bag but around here they are all medicated or very vague as to what goes in them and I can't deal with that.

I also mix in crumbled alfafa cubes when the hay is strictly grass hay just to give them a bit more variety. And when I can get some...I intend to add a bit of wheat and millet or something else.

Again, all this is because we have learned how very depleted our soils/forages are. I understand that other farms are not in our position and do not need to feed grains.

I like to feed sunflower when I can afford it because I believe the oils are very beneficial. I also think the hulls are excellent fiber and are an aid to my "anti-worm" program. I've been ultra strict about isolating new animals, rotating pastures, feeding de, and all that and it has paid off. I like to give the sheep access to other types of dewormer such as wormwood herb in the pasture, pumpkin or sunflower seed hulls, carrot peelings, and the wild (WEED) daisies that grow everywhere. (the sheep nip the heads off first chance they get, which has really helped conrol the plant to a certain degree.

Hopefully, with correct mineral additions, and a variety of food, the lambing problems will decrease each year.

Hope that helps