March and early April has really kicked spring into high gear. The rains are few, we’re in “Abnormally Dry” and likely to fall into moderate drought soon, but the field has still greened up. The cool season grasses were hindered by the February storm and overall are shorter in height this year before they went to seed. But it was also the first time on the property in four years that the grasses were now the dominant, majority vegetation.
What does it all mean? Biggest thing is the continued conversion of the previous cropland to pasture is going well. Even with the drought, the field has experienced great growth over the past four years. Should this system of rotational grazing and management be maintained, it will begin to have prairie-like tall grasses in the next few years especially during the summer grazing. The biggest threats to the grass though are the sheep. If kept too long on any patch this year, it risks the grass dying back a bit, slowing overall progress. So the sheep are out grazing, but spending 2 days being fed hay per week to help keep the grasses adequate out there. On top of that, the electric fences are spending no more than one day in any given location. Too risky from the sheep eating it too short!
Sheep going out in the field
The sheep are having a good time going out and eating, and most have begun to shed their winter coat. All three lambs are growing strong. Mjolnir has now been fully vaccinated with the CDT shot; with Bjorn and Sigeumchi finishing theirs this month. The ewes are still feeding their lambs milk but at a lower amount now that they’re all over a couple months old.
With going outside, it’s been a hassle at times getting them to go out to the electric fence and coming back to the barn. Sahara (pictured below with Bjorn her son) is the most stubborn. She’ll get into the fence most times, but coming back to the barn? She will linger and eat and try to delay as much as possible. She’s silly like that.
You’ll see that in the video below. When two-teaming returning the sheep to the barn at night, most will run back. At 5-7 seconds, you’ll see a sheep blob in the right hand side mid-way up the frame. That’s Sahara! Everyone else comes back just fine. Usually she’ll come back once she realizes there’s a treat or if we keep pace behind her. Most everyone does well though, they come back and go out with few problems.
Garden transitions to Warm Weather
The garden struggled mightily during the February freeze and since then there’s been occasional dips to the freezing point. It’s wrecked havoc on the corn planted, but the carrots are doing just fine still. The real winners so far in the spring transition are the sunflowers pictured below. This is our first year growing sunflowers. We plan on giving them as a supplement to the geese and sheep. There’s about 50ish planted and sprouted; the bigger ones planted earlier by a week or so; the smaller ones replanted after a frost killed a few.
In the background is the winter wheat, and we’re pleased to show that it’s beginning to set seed! This is also our first time growing winter wheat. These are seed that was collected from wheat growing in the dirt in the ditch near the mailbox. Among other things planted this year are two blueberry plants; and other things growing in the garden at the moment are corn, peas, green onions, and weeds. More things will be planted as the weather warms, with squash, tomato, bell peppers, and eggplants slated to begin this month or early next month depending on the weather.
All that is fine and dandy, but it’s also important to note that we are planning to move within the next year. After the winter freeze, and still without running water, we received a letter. Things have to be kept sort of vague, but suffice to say it’s a very Texan thing to expect. Most would be very happy at this news, but we were (and are) not. Two neighbors are not happy either; but some are quite happy. We discussed the issue with legal assistance and after discussing the options available to us, we decided it was time to move.
We like Abilene, it’s a nice mid-size town. It has some great qualities and some lovely people. However with the recurring arid heat, droughts, and smaller property size, we won’t be able to keep the sheep on the field as much as we would like. Climate change is real, this region is projected to become more arid over the years as a trend. But that doesn’t mean this property can’t bring joy or happiness for someone else like it did for us. We’re in the planning phases at the moment, but will offer a fair price for this place when it’s for sale. When that times comes, we’ll do our best as we transition and shift bases. Anyone who buys a sheep in this time frame will not experience any changes to their price or delivery terms. Once we move, then things will shift but it will be noted with updates.