Friday, June 27, 2014

Wild Rose Farm At Wool Pool

Look Out - Here Comes A Fleece!
The Washington County PA Wool Pool was held on Monday & Tuesday this week at the Washington County Fairground.  For those who've "never been"(!), a wool pool is where regional sheep producers bring their raw wool fleeces to be sold as one large "pool".  The association sponsoring the pool advertises for bids and the entire intake of wool goes to the highest bidder.   On Monday, producers with greater than 125 sheep in the flock brought in their fleeces.  Some of the large loads were sheep shearers who are given fleeces as part of their shearing arrangement.  You never know what kind of fleeces that they will come in with! 
On Tuesday, producers with flocks of less than 125 sheep brought in their fleeces to be graded and sold.  The smallest load this year was 4 fleeces from a young lady who is starting in 4-H with 4 sheep.  :)   Nice to see young people getting started in the business! 
Filling Baskets With Different Grades of Wool From One Producer
The wool was "graded" or "classed" by 2 experienced gentlemen who have been doing this for years.  Each class of wool has a different bid price & the buyer relies on the classers to get it right so that the buyer gets what they paid for ...

Recording Weight of Wool
 The wool from each producer is sorted into different baskets by grade and each basket is weighed and recorded.  The total weight per grade is multipled by the bid price for that grade, all of the baskets are totaled, and the association writes a check to the producer immediately. 
Baling Wool With A Hydraulic Press
The baskets are dumped into their respective grade piles and then the wool is "baled".  Depending on the type of wool, similar size bales can weigh between 400 & 600 pounds.  Click on the picture above & you can see all of the activity going on at once.  A bale is being wheeled to the shipping area, one team is baling wool, and the finished bales are lining the wall in the background on the right.  Other piles of various grades are also in the background waiting to be baled.  No mixing of grades can occur.
The intake of wool ended at 3PM on Tuesday and a tractor trailer arrived to pick up the bales.  By 6:30PM the building was swept clean, balers secured and loaded on a trailer, and the doors were locked.  Not bad for a once a year event!   This was my first time volunteering and I was dog tired at the end of the day on Tuesday ... temps were in the 80's, but luckily, we didn't get any rain! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hay Season Goes On ...

Backing Down The Driveway With A Round Bale
Temps are in the 80's now, headed to 90 (ugh), and yesterday we got another batch of hay hauled in and stored.  The skid steer makes it much easier to stack bales in the barn and it saves a lot of space.  We put all of our hay under cover keeping the loss to an absolute minimum.
Filling The Empty Barn
Since we have a dirt floor, we also put the bales on top of pallets  ... farmers are always looking for sources of used pallets to scrounge for free or to buy very cheaply!   So many uses around the farm ...
Dorset Ram Approval On The 1st Bale Of New Hay
We're expecting heavy T-storms for the rest of the week, so no one has hay cut and down right now.  We need about a dozen more and then we're stocked up on big round bales for the upcoming year. 
Yep, This Bale Is Good Too! 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What's So Interesting?

We were taking several rolls of electric net fencing over to where the sheep are grazing, so we took the truck.  After "shifting" the sheep to their new grazing cell, we set up the net fence for the next 2 days of grazing.  Then we headed back to jump in the truck & leave.  All of the sudden, one of the ewes spotted the truck parked outside of the gate. 
Whoa ...  This deserves to be investigated!  Then the llama spotted the ewe and started to look intently at the ewe and what she was staring at ...
Snow White Watching The Sheep Watching The Truck ...
The llama and several sheep make their way over to check out the truck.
Wow - Isn't This Interesting ?!?
Then, where one sheep goes, all sheep must go.  And in a hurry!  Baaaa, baaaa, baaaa!
The Flock Rushes Over - No One Can Be Left Behind!
Minutes after hastening to "whatever", the flock is bored and starts to turn back to the business at hand ... grazing.
Nevermind ... Nothing To See Here ...
As quickly as it started, it's over.  Everyone leaves the scene. 
Snow White - Yep, It's A Truck ...
Snow White heads back to join her less than brilliant companions ... and the beat goes on.
Calm Returns To Wild Rose Farm ...  :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wild Rose Farm Pasture Salad!

Wild Rose Farm Ram Lamb Grazing
This is what we're grazing right now ... it's a pasture mix called "Drought Buster".  It was seeded on the hillside above the Loafing Shed after it was built in 2012.  The thought here in choosing a pasture mix was that the hillside would tend to be a drier spot because the rainfall would run downhill.  It's still spotty in some places, but doing quite well overall.
Red Clover, Ladino Clover, & Forage Chicory
Looks yummy, doesn't it?  It's interesting watching the grazing patterns of the animals.  The donkey tends to munch on the seed heads right now.  The llama also goes for the seed heads or sometimes nibbles at the extremely short weeds or annual grasses in the "traffic" areas.  The ewes munch it all, many times favoring the big leaves along weed stems or munching off the still tender stems of the chicory that is starting to bolt to seed.  The chicory can be reduced to a white smudge where they graze it completely down, but it has a taproot & will come back if not continually grazed.  The lambs?  That's another story - they are still learning what they like to eat & watching/following along with the ewe !  :)
Ram Lamb Circling Around - I Just Don't Know What To Eat First!
Upright Leaves of Forage Chicory, Alfalfa, Clovers - Yummy!
Once they finish grazing an area, we come behind and brush hog it down to knock off the grass seed heads & the weeds.  That promotes an even return of nice leafy growth for the next grazing rotation later in the summer. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Off To Greener Pastures!

All of the Wild Rose Farm ewes & lambs are now in one group and they're pastured over by the Loafing Shed.  The ewes wintered over there, but were pulled off this section once grazing started in mid-April prior to the lambing season.  
They're Off --- Out Of The Barn & Down Along The Driveway !
Here's a better perspective on the flock as they string out along the way.  Click on the photo to enlarge.  We're following ... the lead ewes know where to go.  They're walking right through this mowed paddock headed straight for the good stuff!
Hey Lamb ... Always One Who Doesn't Get With The Program!
Now here's the good stuff!
Wild Rose Farm #135 Ewe Lamb & Ewe Grazing
Once they all got over to the new pasture, Snow White was seeing all kinds of things that she had never seen before!  She kept popping her head up from grazing to stare at the "Log Mahal", aka the Great Pyramid of cordword with a big silver tarp. 
Snow White Grazing ...
Or was it the white electric fence tape flickering in the breeze???  Or the black feed troughs stacked up on the feeding pad ???
Staring Intently, Tail Up ... Now WHAT IS That Stuff ???
When she turned around and looked in the other direction, there was even more to explore!
Hmmm ... What's Going On In There ???
She was finally satisfied when she followed her little lamby charges into the Loafing Shed and took a bite out of the left over round bale of hay ...
Snow White - Enough Of This Loafing Shed - Time To Get Back To Grazing!
By the time I finished looking around & taking pictures, Snow White had found her way back around to the front of the building and was having a nice llama roll in the dust ... ahhhh, finally some dirt!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Out There ...

Snow White Out There With Ewes & Lambs
Llama Snow White is now "out there" grazing with the 1st group of ewes & lambs.  I'm pretty sure that she's never had this much "room to roam".  She came up towards the water tank with the first wave of sheep and now she's leading the way back down to where they are grazing.  I haven't seen her drink from the water tank yet, but there's also a tub next to the tank that we fill for the lambs.  You can see some of the lambs gathered around the silver tub getting a drink & you also see that some of them can reach the water tank too. 
Sheep (and llamas) bed on high ground if they can, so by dusk, they'll all be back up near the water tank bedded down for the night.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Routine ...

Picking up hay ... that's the routine event on the farm.
Farmer Mike Moving Hay From His Bale Carrier To Our Trailer
Unloading hay ... another part of the routine this time of year.
Round Bales Going Into The Loafing Shed
Then there's the problem that is not routine.   We noticed that the electric fence charger sounded a little weak this morning, but we had rain, so that could have been the reason.  I walked out to "test" the fence.  Checking the fence hillbilly style means that you take a blade of grass, lay it on the electric wire, and slide the grass forward so that your grip gets closer to the wire.  Somewhere along the way you should start to get a pulse & good tingle in time with the sound of the fencer pulse .  Then you know it's working.  NO  pulse - NO tingle.   Hmmm.  Then a tentative touch of the wire with a finger.  Nothing.  A solid full grab of the wire.  Nothing.  Time to trouble shoot.  Turns out that the charger, although pulsing, was not sending out a charge.  We brought out the "spare" charger and the electricity is working now.  That means the sheep get a zap when they touch the electric net fence.  As a side note, electic net fence & the single strand fences that you see around dairy cow pastures work on the "fear factor" ... they are a psychological "pain" barrier, not a true physical barrier.
Dead Electric Fence Charger ...
Of course, we also rely on the electric fence to keep predators OUT as well as keeping the sheep in a grazing cell.  So --- that's why it's so important.  It seems that we got over 15 years out of this fence charger before needing to replace it. 
Spare Electric Fence Charger Installed
Now it's time to order another back-up - that will run about $120 - yep, that's routine maintenance on the farm, right?!?   BTW - here's a plug for my favorite fencing supply company, Premier 1 out of Iowa.  Order their fencing catalog - it's worth it if you're considering any kind of fencing (even keeping varmits out of your garden!). 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Last Lambs of The Season!

Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #410 With Twins
The lambing season is officially over here ... Rambouillet #410 had a set of twins - a ewe lamb & a ram lamb on Friday.  Here they are out in the mixing pen.
Meanwhile, #404 is waiting for what she is sure is coming her way - a treat!
"Hey - get off of that fence!".  Next thing you know, she'll drop off of the fence panel & put her foot in the water bucket ... aaccckkk!    It's happened before ...
#404 - Are You Bringing Me A Treat ???