November update

Another month has nearly passed. The calves are weaned and settled into their winter quarters and the cows and sheep are bale grazing in their perspective pastures. The first batch of pigs has gone for slaughter, and the rest have moved into the straw filled shed. Winter routines are starting to take hold.

Also this month, another pup (herding dog this time) has arrived. Tess is a Kelpie x Border Collie and is about 4 months old now. She is a fairly mellow pup, and seems to be quick to learn. 

We are also thrilled to welcome another family member, with my sister and brother in law having another daughter. It will be exciting to watch her grow and change over the next few months and years.

Snow days

We had hoped to continue to use some fall regrowth to stretch our grazing season and to prevent getting into our winter feed, but mother nature had other plans. A considerable amount of snow fell this week, and while we are glad to see the moisture, it is making grazing difficult for the animals. Sheep are quite efficient at grazing through snow and will paw it away to reach the green growth, while cattle use their nose to push into the snow or grab onto the tops of the grass and pull it out.

Sheep grazing. You can see the ewe on the left is pawing the snow away.

After this blast of snow, I was unsure the sheep would be able to get enough by grazing, as their pasture did not have large amounts of tall grass. The other day I took them a couple bales of hay, and they quite quickly ate them all up. That solidified my decision to bring them closer to the yard where they are easier to feed. This afternoon, I set out to move them. 

First I spread some hay in their new pasture, then proceeded to go collect the sheep. The few bales I had taken them previously reminded them about being fed, so when I arrived in the pasture, it only took a few moments for them to start to move towards the tractor. They began to follow, until I reached the space where I had taken down the electric wire. They knew exactly where that fence had been, and it took a few moments for them to determine it was safe to cross.

The ewes are just deciding whether to cross the invisible line

Once the first ewes cross over the place where the fence was, the rest quickly follow.

While most stick to the tracks, occasionally one ewe branches off the path

We headed across another piece between their old pasture and new one. I wasn’t sure if they would want to explore this pasture, but they were mostly content to see where I was taking them.

As we reached the hay, the ewes ran past to their feed, although as I followed, I still saw some sheep nibbling at the grass uncovered in the tracks.

And while the sheep are happy to have feed, the dogs like hay for other reasons.

Change for a rest 

Winter is making an early appearance this year. In a matter of a day, temperatures have sunk below zero and we have snow on the ground. The first sight of winter always means a rush to do the last minute preparations and brings with it a change in what must be done each day, as making sure animals have access to feed and water becomes paramount. But winter also brings with it a quietness and restfulness. The days are shorter, meaning any outdoor work happens within those fewer hours of daylight, and some jobs are just no longer doable. This relieves the pressure to get those jobs done, and after a busy fall, it feels time for a rest.