Chores

Filling our 'snacker' with the appropriate grain mix

Filling our ‘snacker’ with the appropriate grain mix

At Christmas, long weekends and other holidays, farmers don’t take much time off. The animals need daily attention. Always. On Christmas Day, two men each spent about 2 ½ hours in the morning doing chores, then 3 men worked in the barn in the afternoon for a few hours too. We don’t resent it – it is just part of the rhythm of our days. Here is a picture of the daily chores, autumn through spring for the three main groups of sheep. (Chores become far more extensive during the breeding season, with 6 or 7 groupings).

The sheep eagerly approach at the sound of the ATV

The sheep eagerly approach at the sound of the ATV

The 3 men meet at 7 am in our home for a half hour or so to discuss weather, problems, plans, concerns, goals, finances and ideas. Each has his area of special knowledge, and they pool thoughts. Then they head out for about 4 man hours/day.

Christopher typically visits every group of sheep every day, checking for any issues or problems. If a sheep needs attention he’ll deal with it there if he can, or will mark her so she can be found readily. (The other day he found a lamb standing knee deep in a stream, with her head thoroughly stuck in the paige wire! The water was wetter on the other side?…) He’ll visit with every guard dog (8 at the moment) and will feed them. He’ll load grain into our ‘snacker’, pulled by the ATV, and will run a trail of corn out on the snow for the replacement lambs, due to birth for the first time next spring. That gives them extra energy.

Eating hay, unrolled on the ground

Eating hay, unrolled on the ground

Meanwhile, Don visits every group of sheep. He’ll unroll round bales of hay on the ground, spreading it out so all can eat at the same time. Then he unrolls baleage bales for the breeding flock. It has a sweetish fresh damp grass odour, and the sheep love it. Unrolling the hay and baleage feeds the land as well as the sheep. The uneaten remnants and the sheep faeces fertilize the fields (and feed the earthworms). Don also keeps an eye out for any problems with the animals; he has a special affinity with the dogs. He’ll take a tractor with a grain bin out to keep the grain feeders filled for the market lambs that need the extra protein and energy help to grow during our winters.

Our animals are healthy and thriving and content, largely thanks to the regular attention and care they receive.

Treat time - eating grain after hay

Treat time – eating grain after hay