Eventful Few Days

Since last post it has been a bit eventful around here. We received the forecast day of rain, actually we received three days of rain accompanied by ugly winds. The power line that runs behind the house came down last night, torching a tree or two. A testament to the small prairie squall that was taking place out here.  This time I have a concrete reason for skipping a regular blog post - we were without power until well after bed time.

As noted earlier the ewes were parked on a paddock with ample shelter before the rain arrived, which the majority of them made use of. There wasn’t much to do for them during a day of rain but check in to see if there were any newborns. Thankfully there was not. The newborn arrived during the next day of rain - and it died.

I also lost one weak lamb, who probably would not have made it even were it warm and sunny. And I lost two ewes to bloat with moving onto the new piece of grass. In the sometimes rapid fashion of nature, the grass has reached its prime growing stage and in the course of two days we have adjusted from managing for lambing to managing for grass (namely bloat). We have lots of alfalfa in our grass mix so bloat is a yearly concern at this time of rapid grass growth.

I planned for the ewes to be on the paddock for two days, at which point the rain was suppose to let up and give us a day of sunshine to dry things up a bit. Didn’t happen. By the third morning we were thoroughly soaked and it was still raining. It didn’t look like we were going to get a moment of sunshine before moving the flock to the next paddock.

When you have lush grass with bloat causing legumes, one of the things to avoid is moving the ewes to a new paddock right after a rain. Since the rain was still falling that wasn’t going to be an option. You also want to keep the ewes moving and eating the new growth rather than graze on and off of it.  I did not want to delay a move any longer and I wanted to make sure we moved the ewes when they were good and full - so after their morning graze. I wanted the majority of the ewes to make the move, thus putting more animals on the new grass at the same time, thereby maximizing the stock density there.

At mid morning this morning Cajun and I headed out to move the girls across to a new paddock. I must say this morning of sheep work in the rain and wind was a highlight of three rainy days. Cajun worked so well on the ewes and lambs, keeping well off the sheep and showing incredible patience and power that simply said, 'you and your lambs need to move now'. He is sure stepping up this year and becoming more than what I imagined a good stock dog to be. I think I am beginning to love this dog a little too much!

After the moves I was pretty nervous about bloating ewes so we headed back out within an hour to make sure all the ewes were still on their feet. This time we had some human company with us. While the rain resulted in the cancellation of Sunday herding lessons, it did not deter visitors from making the trip to the ranch to spend an afternoon with us. Tristen, Cole and young daughter Claire, were treated(?) to a full, wet and windy pasture and sheep tour. It was another highlight in three days of rain. I always get so much from sharing our place with others. Any discussion with fellow sheep producers about what each of us do and why always presents me with deeper introspection. Confirming some reasons for why we do what we do but challenging others and possibly inciting needed change.

Lastly, the third highlight of a few days of rain was some time for creating.

Project in Progress
First few tries at washing and carding!