So much to do to ready the house, yard, farm for spring growth. In north Missouri, there is always a very narrow window for such activity when it’s not too hot, not too cold, not too muddy, not too dry, not too windy, not too green. Yeah, spring work needs to happen before spring brush and grass starts growing.
Today is about 70F, cloudy and very windy, so no outdoor burning, but otherwise great for outdoor stuff.
Dallas and i cleaned out a small ditch near the house which contained ancient metal trash – he ran the tractor, i ran the log chain and we made short work of it – had a few interruptions – but finally all pulled out, loaded, and hauled off.
Also, taking time to prune trees, rose bushes, and ornamental grasses.
This article had been written back in the winter, but could be said for today and many other days as well. Today i found a dead ewe and a dead lamb wrapped up in the electrified netting. Why can’t they stay out of it! Sheep were out, but corralled AGAIN. This is just a regular problem. Half of the sheep are scheduled for sale at Kirksville Livestock Market on August 3rd. The rest will go when lambs are old enough to wean.
Those little woolly buggers! They busted out for freedom, but freedom for sheep generally means something will go wrong and some of them will die. Sheep must be kept in close and protected ALL the time. Since I cannot be there as a full time shepherd, I rely on guard dogs and electric sheep netting. Together, those work about 95% of the time.
Alas, they did bust out at a bad time – the ground was extremely frozen and there was no way to replace the fence, so they ran amok on 320 acres. During their freedom, one orphaned lamb was nabbed by a coyote and a young bred ewe had fallen into a muddy ditch and couldn’t get out – both died of course.
However, today I managed to reset ten nets to give them about 10 acres plus 8 big bales of hay – this should hold them for quite some time. The ground along the ditch bank and out of the sun was still frozen, so I had to use the hammer on about 75 posts to drive them in! Nevertheless, the sheep are now safe once again, so it was all worth the effort.
This continued wet, cool, muddy spring is a bit hard on the calving season. A few, thankfully very few, calves are showing a bit of milk scouring since the forages are too high in protein this year. Most are fine. However, I did have to bring a calf in tonight. He is small and with his mum milking good and the protein levels higher than normal in the forages, he has been weakened by milk scours, so he’s been lying about too much and now has maggots in his navel around the penis. He’s pretty droopy, but i still had to throw a rope on him, then heft his squirmy self into the back of the Gator. Tied him up and headed home. He rode quietly (probably terrified!), but perked up when i dragged him out back onto the ground. I gave him an antibiotic and sprayed his navel area really well with screw worm spray – that started the maggots to wrigglying out. However, I don’t know how deep inside they are, so i’ll have to keep washing it out and spraying the area. Hopefully, i’m not too late to save him.
Although, I shifted the cows/calves to a new paddock, i had to leave the old one open because the baby calves were not keen on crossing the muddy ditch. As they get hungry and their mums go back for them, they’ll eventually come across, but I will need to check for stragglers in a day or two.
My temporary paddock divisions using polywire are no longer needed, so I reeled up the one that was in the cows’ fresh paddock tonight.
Yesterday, I found two ewes and a young lamb stuck in the muddy ditch. Of course, I had not worn my mud boots, so my short work shoes would suffice, though I was up to my shins in sticky clay. They were a bit of a challenge to remove leg by leg out of the muck, but with their cooperation and effort, I made fairly short work of it.
Today, I drove up with the specific purpose of walking the ditches in case more had found themselves engulfed in mud, but none were thankfully. However, the storm moved in and i was completely soaked from the thunderstorm. Additionally, I counted seven live newborn lambs as well as two ewes were beginning to go into labor.
We have missed the worst of these passing storms, however, and for that we are grateful.