When the nights are long it is the perfect time to review the last years efforts and resolutions for this years efforts. We are making plans for our grazing season. Last summer we developed 4 acres of pasture which should be productive this year. We look forward to see how that pasture performs this summer.
Getting ready for fall forage planting involves cleaning up the fields with a light mowing and then calculated applications of fertilizer based on our graze plan and soil tests.
The challenge of this summer has been to provide forage with shade. Here the ewes and lambs are grazing in the shade of an oak.
These next two weeks will be busy times with the expectant mothers gathered to a shed for lambing. We need to keep a close eye on them so we can isolate them with their lambs in “jugs”. Moms will be treated to plush accommodations of high protein hay and supplements. They will also be given as much peace and quiet as we can provide so they can nurse their lambs. These first few days are essential for bonding and establishing immunity in their lambs.
The climate of Western NY is always a challenge. Its always “too” something: too cold, too much snow, too windy. A grazer always has to have an eye on the weather. Sheep do need some protection in our climate. There are seasons where they can stay out for days at a time but because of farm conditions they may have to moved off a pasture or given more shelter.
I have found a site that is very useful for planning purposes. It suggests that the theme for this year is going to be “too much precipitation”.
An early spring seems to be on the way. Yesterday we heard the geese begin to return and the grass started to green up. But that nagging voice in the back of my head reminds me that 36″ March snows are not that unusual. Still we have been grateful for these balmy days to give us a chance to set up the gates for weighing the “gals” and getting them ready for lambing. We decided to lamb late this year– April/May. Quite a few are looking rotund already.