Monthly Happenings- November

October was a very busy month here at Amestris Mars Ranch, so we found it hard to set aside some time to make a monthly happenings post. So we’re making one now! The main reason was due to the birth of Aki and Rym, twin lambs were born! However do to their mother’s age, she was not able to produce enough milk so we took to bottle raising the pair. The first few weeks were very tiring, as anyone who’s bottle fed a lamb or even had a human infant to breastfeed or feed with a bottle would know.

Fortunately, lambs grow quick, and best of all do not need to be on the bottle for as long as raising an infant would be. As of now, they are weaned and eating grass in a side pen. They’ve received their first CDT shot and are growing well. Besides the grasses and forbs they are also getting soybean meal as a creep feed. Once they’ve been given their CDT booster, they’ll be with the adults over the winter in the barn.

So far Aki has maintained a darker coloring while Rym has kept his more cream-brown color. While feeding, Aki was a very vigorous drinker, as seen in the short video below. Rym slightly less-so, but both drank well. They started out at 4.8 lbs (Rym) and 5.2 lbs (Aki) at birth, then we weaned them when they were about 15 lbs.

Meanwhile, the rest of the herd has been making their way through the field one last time. It’s their fourth rotation around and given the drier conditions due to La Nina, it will be the last for the year. Cool season grasses have started to emerge and the cooler weather has allowed the rainfall that has fallen to stretch farther. Coupled with the tall-grass, especially from the silver bluestem, it helps minimize the soil moisture loss due to wind.

The sheep have been doing great on the pasture; despite being in a moderate drought designation. The native grasses have mostly cut back or stopped growing now, with some cool season forbs such as sweet clover being spotted here and there germinating. With the cool weather the sheep often lay in the grass in the afternoon, though getting that picture is hard, they jump up once they hear anyone coming! Once this week is up, they’ll be in the barn getting hay. Depending on the precipitation and pasture growth we get, we may let them out again for a couple weeks in December, but wait-and-see.

The garden has been left to go wild for the autumn, pesky bermuda grass has been getting invasive so we’re handling that while we can. Hopefully it will be under more control once spring comes and then we plant again. Now is a good time to apply compost to garden beds for over-wintering as well. The last things pulled out were sesame and peanuts. Sesame did wonderful this year. This was second generation seed originally bought from Kitazawa Seed. We planted it 24 inches apart to see how well it would do coupled with minimal watering. The wide spacing allowed us to weed with ease and to treat one plant that got ants and aphids on it without compromising the others. Sesame will develop more side-branches as well when it has a wide space around it. Next year we aim to do 18 inch spacing and see if anything changes in yield, pests, and watering requirements.

Peanuts are still hard to predict when to best pull them out. Since they are indeterminate they will keep making peanut pods; but if you wait too long, the peanut pods could also sprout, lowering your yields. We waited probably 1-2 weeks too long, quite a few pods had sprouts, but we were still able to get a good yield for a garden. We turned some of the peanuts into chopped peanuts to add to granola bars. The leaves of the peanuts are also good food for the sheep; it’s higher in protein than typical grasses. Some farmers even grow different varieties of peanuts just for “peanut hay”. Overall we’re satisfied with the peanut seed, bought from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and will continue to grow it while refining our gardening knowledge.

With the year almost to a close, hopefully things will calm down a bit more. The weather has been good and with a little rain, it will set up the region for a lovely year next year for pasture and crops. Best wishes to all!

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