Sunday Homestead Update: Plans

Life on a farm is always an adventure. You never know what is going to happen. You can plan well, do everything “right,” and still have things go “wrong.” Successes and failures are all a part of homesteading.

I try to keep these quotes in mind when things happen that don’t go the way we planned or hoped:

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or one’s ‘real’ life. The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s real life is a phantom of one’s imagination.” – C.S. Lewis

So we continue to make plans and move forward and adjust as needed when things don’t go how we thought they would. Our wool sheep flock is the current thing on the farm that has not been going how we planned and hoped.

Sheep

Last year we brought in a BFL ram to be our new breeding ram for the wool flock. We were especially excited to cross him over our CVM/Merino ewe, Fiona, because we have really loved the fleece results in the past when we have crossed BFL on fine-wool breeds. While Fiona was the one we were most excited about, we were also looking forward to him covering our other ewes as well. Then, in September, Fiona died suddenly. We were very upset by the loss, but pressed on and decided to bring a Bond ewe into the flock and cross her with the BFL for similar results. She is older and has never lambed before, so it was important to get her bred that season because the risk of complications increases as a ewe ages and hasn’t had her first lambing. After 3 heat cycles, we found out that our breeding ram was sterile. The vet told us it is very rare for rams to be sterile. His fleece was so excellent we decided to keep him as a wether.

We rushed to find another ram while the ewes were still in heat and before breeding season ended and we ended up with a Bond ram that was a proven breeding ram. We were very excited to be pure-breeding the Bond ewe, and crossing the other ewes (dairy and dairy/wool-cross ewes) with the Bond ram, and we were looking forward to what kind of fleece combinations we would get. From all we could tell he settled the ewes.

Fast forward 6+ months…due dates have come and gone and we have had no lambs born. He did not settle even one ewe. Sigh. Two sterile rams in a row…it feels impossible but it is true. And the Bond ram had bred successfully before, as had some of the ewes he was covering. It makes no sense.

Time to re-think and make some new plans. The dairy flock has a new ram for this breeding season, so we are set for that (assuming he is not sterile too – chuckle). As for the wool flock, we are re-setting, thinking about what exactly we would like our wool flock to be, seeing what options are available, and making plans to continue forward. God-willing, there will be changes coming to the wool flock in the next couple of months.

Bloat

We had a bloat scare this week. Our ram lamb, Dusty, bloated Thursday.

We started by treating him with an oil/water/baking soda combination through a syringe into his mouth. Then we used a stick in his mouth (like a horse bit) to get him chewing to try to help him burb. We got a few burbs, but it wasn’t helping enough and he was getting more and more uncomfortable. So, we tubed him. We were able to get quite a bit of air off with the tube. He started to improve a bit at that point and then I was able to dig around in the boxes we still haven’t unpacked and find the vet kit. Once I found the vet kit we gave him some therabloat for good measure. By then he was doing quite a bit better. By morning he seemed fine. What a relief!

Ducks

We got rid of our ducks before the move. We only had 3 and it just made sense to try to simplify the move as much as possible. There was no housing here for them and the list of things to do and build right away was already too long. We were planning to wait until at least fall to get more, but a couple of opportunities have presented themselves for us to get ducklings sooner and we have decided to jump in. So we now have 10 Muscovy ducklings and 4 Welsh Harlequins. We will be building them a tractor soon, and when they are feathered we will move them out to it and start using them to help amend our soil and work on pest control and foraging the pastures.

Heat Wave – Again

The heat continues to pound on us this summer. We got up to 106 in the shade and 109 in the sun! That is hot even for people used to living in the high plains, but for us accustomed to the mountain climate and new to the plains…whew! We are melting. SO grateful for AC.

4 thoughts on “Sunday Homestead Update: Plans

  1. Such a bummer on the disappointing lambing season. Incidentally, I was reading on fertility in rabbits and read that heat or moving from a northern state to a state with different climate (heat/humidity/annual rainfall) can cause temporary sterility. Typically it takes a full year or two for fertility to return once the animal acclimates. Good to know, and is why we haven’t tried breeding our rabbits yet. I wonder if similar factors can be at play in sheep? Seems like the stress of a move on general may affect fertility. He’s such a gorgeous ram. Here’s praying the sterility is only temporary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The BFL ram did come from far away. But the vet checked him out and said that it was congenital. That’s why we went ahead and wethered him, so we could still keep him but get rid of his ram behaviors since he would never be fertile.
      The Bond ram came to us from only about 20 minutes away, so there wasn’t much climate change. He is older, so that could come into play, but he is not old enough to theoretically cause fertility issues. We are probably going to get the vet out this fall and have him checked out. Because IF he could potentially breed the Bond ewe, we would love to have more purebred Bonds.
      The stress of the fire evacuation could have effected the ewes. But that was 2 months previous to when the Bond joined us for breeding…I guess it could have still been causing issues. Who knows?
      Interestingly, we have heard from two different shearers who travel around the west shearing at farm after farm and both said that a lot of sheep breeders across the state said that this was their worst breeding year ever. Many were at 50% production or less. Not sure what that is about, but it is interesting.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s