Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year

My your new year be filled with good moments, smiling faces, happiness and health.
May  we all have friends:
that will weather the storms of life with us..
Guide us, when we go wrong:

Watch our backs for us..

Watch over us in our times of need..

May we all have someone who will listen to us..

I wish  you lots of good friends..

and a few very special ones.. 

Happy 2012


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

New Years Puppies

Snowy had a romantic relationship with Vuk.
 As a result from that romance..
She now has a nice rounded tummy.

She is bahaving like a preganant lady.

She does take excersice, just at a very leisurly pace.
 She takes frequent breaks on the way:

An afternoon nap is always welcome:

Posing for a picture and belly rub.

She is due around January 7th and we are all looking forward to some puppies to brighten our days during the cold dark days of January.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas Chores

Our work at this time is primarily in the barn.
At Christmas time we get the barn in order for the ewes who are due to lamb in January.
The manure is taken out,
the pens are set up,
the lambing jugs are checked and new straw is placed in them.

The sheep are sorted, those who are due to lamb are seperated out and are housed in the barn.
Here they get additional feed and attention.
The ewes that are lambing in March and May are sent packing back to their winter corral.

But, before they can do that we like to weigh them all.
We then draft out the ones with a poor body condition, (even if they are not preganant)
they can stay inside with the pregnant ewes for additional feed.

The first lambing group also get weighed, registered and vaccinated.

Once they have all been weighed and their RFID  tages read and registered, they can head on out again.
This is always a good moment to make sure that every sheep on the place is weighed and ear tag is checked.
Sometimes animals lose their tag, and get new ones during the year,
however because I am not sure what the old number was (as its tag was lost..) we end up with a bunch of "phantom sheep" in our management program.
By reading every animal on the place,
replacing lost tags and then
"cleaning up" the data,
you have a nice up to date list for the new year!

Luckily, the kids have Christmas holidays now, so they are helpful doing all these chores!
Here Jess, scans the last pen of feeder lambs.
These are not run through the drafting crate as the group is small and they get weighed weekly in any case.

The breeding rams are then turned out with the ewes to ensure that the next group will lamb in May.

After all this, a new equilibium needs to be found.
The amounts of feed, number of bales and the order in which the work needs to be done
needs to be worked out.
Finding this new balance always takes a few days and then away we go again.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Happy Sol Invictus

Today is the darkest day of the year.
That means that, after today, the days get longer again.
Pagans used to celebrate this winter solstice
 by lighting candles, fires and lanterns.

I always like to stop and reflect on this day.
To me,  it signifies a new (astronomical) year,
another chance for dreams and wishes.

However, not only does it marks the return of the sun.
It also means that

We have not had much winter yet,
with hardly any snow on the ground and temperatures shifting between -5 and + 5 C.

However, all this can still change!

Have a Happy Sol Invictus.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

The last job of the day

Once all the chores are done,
the last job of the evening is walking the collies.
This is the time the collies can relax and play.

However, they do not relax and play!
Lad, never leaves my side,
Solo herds Echo,
 (and Echo ignores him!)
Sheila herds Streak,
(Streak ignores Sheila)
Kim herds everyone,
(They all ignore her!!)
Sheego runs around like a chicken without a head
 and Zac,
all he does is make doggy snow angels!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The sun around the world..

“Living on Earth may be expensive,
but it includes an annual free trip around the Sun.”
~ Unknown
 The sunsets here in northern Alberta are amazing.
Very different to the cindering heat of an African sunset,
where the beauty of the sunset can be overshadowed by the deafening sound of the crickets.

I cannot remember any real noteworthy sunsets in the Netherlands.
I am sure we had them but none that really had that "wow" factor.

The sunsets here are every changing.

Some are garish:

Some are dramatic:

Some are subtle:

Most are stunning:

And, this weeks' sunset was  mystical.
The mist decended and the sun was gone within a few minutes.
Another sunset  etched into my memory foam..


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sheep Shearing at Twilight

Twilight Hutterite Colony always shear their sheep just before their January lambing.
This is a big activity and  lots of friends are invited to come and watch the shearing.
The shearing takes place in one of their big barns,
(it is always fairly dark inside so the picture quality is poor, I apologise.)
The barn is buzzing with all the shearing machines and all the colony children that came out to watch, play on the wool bags and have fun.
Our 4H sheep project kids also made it out to the colony to come and watch all this activity.

Here is an impression of the shearing:


The kids just love all the action in the barn,
and I ended up taking a picture of every child on the colony ( I think).
"Please take my picture, please take my picture..."

The wool table, the wool gets place on the table and from their it get put into a bag and pressed with a hydraulic press. The wool tube bags weighed about 400 lbs.

The 4 H sheep project kids:

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Some more daily chores

 As I said in my last post, we feed everyday with the tractor. I usually start with all the dogs, then chickens, go to the barn and feed, treat and care for the animals there. Then I go and feed the horses, feed the bulls and rams and then the cows are next and finally  the main flock of sheep. I am feeding bales that were made on our ranch, most of these are stacked however one field still has them spread out over the field. So I drive there and collect the bales I need to feed.

My view on the way to collect a bale of alfalfa hay:

The return trip with zero visibility:

 (Yes, the windows  need to be washed)
After cutting off the net wrap on the bales, I need Lads' help to keep the sheep away from the tractor.
The sheep never have figured out that a tractor is a deadly machine.
They will run under the tractor,
in front of the wheels and
start eating the underside of the bale.
The do not realise that they are easily squashed, run over and flattened by the object that feeds them.

So, it is his duty,

to clear a route and keep the woollies at bay, while I set the bale down and then unroll the bale.
Most days I let the sheep out of the pasture and they can wonder around and go and graze somewhere else while feeding however the last few days the snow has melted and everything is so icy, they do do feel like leaving the pasture and I do not want to push them to move over the ice.
So, this means feeding and watching out for the sheep at the same time!

The sheep get a number of bales and twice a week I bed them down with straw.

Some sheep always want to be "king of the castle"
and like to climb up onto the last bit of a rolled bale that is left.
Once the sheep are done, I will usually move some more bales, or add coolant to the tractor, sort cows, feed cats, weigh lambs, roll grain, clean dog kennels,  do bookkeeping  or other miscellaneous and constant work around the place.
Worse of all, there is always skirt work to do!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Daily Chores (part 1)

 We feed everyday.
That helps prevent wastage and we can best monitor the feed intake and condition of our livestock on a daily basis.
With that said, the animals are also quickly into a daily feeding regime.
The cows have grain and peas for breakfast.
When I drive to the cows, they are waiting expectantly for me (actually it is the grain they are waiting for)
to come and feed them.
As we bucket feed the grain, and the cows really have no respect whatsoever for my personal space, things can get a bit tight at moments.
To give me some space, Lad (my faithful friend) helps me back the cows away so that I can feed.
He pushes them back and hold them away from the feeders.

After breakfast, the cows get hay for the rest of the day and some straw to pick through and to use as a bed!

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