Well its been some time since my last post,a little bit of being on the go and lazy writers block.There’s always plenty going on at any one time on the ranch, but it can get hard to discipline one’s self to sit down and write about it.Like most folks we are feeling the changing of the seasons,and as summer comes to and end, the call of winter and all it’s urgency have us running from one project to another,and coming up with an all around plan for this falls grass planting,improved calving and lambing facilities,marketing strategies,future news letter,and all the things that will propel us into the 2012 farm season.Moving our garden is looking like a good possibility since we have come to the conclusion that we placed it in the coldest part of our yard,so the sheep pen may serve as its next destination,as it is already well fertilized and receives quite a bit more sun then the current location which will be used for things that do better in somewhat cooler conditions.As many may have seen on our face book page we have acquired a 1942 Farmall McCormick(International Harvester)model M tractor,which I’m restoring enough to help with the fall planting and some snow removal duties,as well as ground prep and haying along with our other International Industrial tractor which has a backhoe,and three-point and pto,i think we’ll be able to handle our farming duties much more efficiently as two of us will be able to work simeltaneously(lord knows i could use the extra tractor help).After a long period of pondering what to plant I’ve settled on Ryegrass as it grows here in a dryland situation very well and also a dryland pasture mix with brome,fescue,orchard grass,and a few different subclovers,to help fix nitrogen and of course the wheat we bought last spring will also get planted,so that’s the plan.We also hope to fertilize with a water-soluble fish fertilizer this spring as things irrigate up.Its also looking like a few more ewes from my daughters high school may be calling the ranch home soon,as they only keep the very best conformation in the ag program for 4-h and ffa,but in a meat program I’m more concerned with good flesh and mothering ability,so they should work out just fine on our outfit.It’s also the time of year to start thinking about all the reading that’s been piling up around here,can’t wait to have a minute to read all the interesting articles,dream about neat farm and ranch gadgets,enjoy all the canned fruits and veggies and of course our home-grown meats.We did’nt raise a pig,but that may also be on our agenda in the next few weeks ,as there always seems to be goodies that could go toward a hog or two and our old chickens are slowly waning on the egg laying and will go into the freezer in november,we’ll start with fresh hens next season.Well i hope harvest season finds everyone in the middle of bounty and plentifullness,and remember to support local agriculture and community businesses,and share with you family, friends and neihbors.Thanks for visiting!!Sweeting Ranch crew.
Some times when you’re new to a piece of ground,like our selves ,(we’ve been here for going on two years this summer)on top of being somewhat new farmers and ranchers,you spend as much time learning what not to do in your daily routine and ventures.I had been interested in trying a test plot (a couple 3 to 5 acres of spring wheat) so i bought some spring wheat with the thought of getting out early in the season and working the field up and planting the seed before the spring rains started and turned the soil into gumbo,unfit for tractor work.Well so far the spring rains have never really stopped,and the winter snow fall while substantially less has continued to grace us with its presence,so as i sit here and type this,the wind is ripping through the valley blowing in the next wave of weather which is forecasted to bring periodic rain and flurries through this next coming week.The few nice weather days have seem to come on the days i work in town,and leave in the wee hours of the morning,only to get back as the day rapidly turns to night.So my thoughts have now been turned to trying a winter hard or soft wheat to plant this fall,which will allow me to let it germinate and over winter,then cut in spring.Makes much better sence in my situation.Live and learn.This late wet spring season has also been a cold one,with temps in the low 30’s and even a couple of mid 20’s mornings,which has consequentially also altered everyone’s gardening season in the area,season extenders or not.I think us folks in the mountains ,especially being in an alpine valley,can get a little frustrated when it’s june and we’re ready to spend as much time as we can burning day light on outside projects,patience is definitely a virtue amongst us high altitude (5000 feet,high desert) gardeners.My many tomato starts may start to wither with protest if not planted soon and i personally can’t see transplanting 50 tomato plants into 5 or 10 gallon buckets and moving them like some of the ones currently in the house now.I guess that’s why so many of us in this valley are in the livestock business,it’s just not the banana belt around here.But we persevere and wait for our windows of opportunity to run out between storms and keeping our outfits on track as best we can under the circumstances in which we must operate,and love it all the while.On a much more positive note the grass is up pretty good and thus the animals are all on pasture ,which saves us a ton of money,and give us a chance to get facilities ready for the up and coming winter(sigh),it’s also firewood time.I like to think a month from now will find us well on our way to a prosperous farming and ranching season with a bountiful harvest shortly after,seems as though we end our spring just to start preparations for the next winter.Here’s to warmer days! Well better get outside,think i see a break in the weather. 😉 Solomon.Cheers!
This last week our small flock of ewes have been lambing ,seemingly (because of the impending bad weather).It occurs to me sheep always seem to wait for the evening, as soon as i arrive from my day job to lamb after I’ve worked 10 hours in town and commuted 2 hours. Much to their credit and to my bottom line,it probably makes more sense for me to be there to help out in any problem situations that may, and always seem to present themselves,even though my wife is more than capable of handling most situations independently .They say lambs are born,just so they can die on you,and there’s a lot of truth to that(we’ve personally lost two),and it takes quite a bit of time and money to get one on the ground.This week has been no exception,the first ewe to lamb delivered a set of twins,and when that happens there always happens to be one of the two that has the potential to become a candidate for bummer lamb.Feeding a lamb for 30 days on a bottle is not a position i want or cherish all that dang much quite frankly,even though I’ve had several opportunities to buy such lambs at a significant bargain.My thoughts lately have been tied around whether i should keep a ewe back for another breeding cycle if she lambed out and the lamb was lost ,due to twins she could not take care of or weak lambs that didn’t make it,which unfortunately has happen twice this week.I love my girls immensely(nothing cuter than lambs running around) but i am trying to come to grips with the reality of running a profitable and sustainably viable agricultural enterprise,in other words if you cost me money and don’t produce something i can sell,then does it make good business sense to give you a pass,with the potential for another loss?One of the many challenges of being a small producer with small numbers of livestock.When you’re just building a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep,you don’t want to cut any of the animals in the crucial building stage,but you also don’t have the luxury of keeping back unproductive animals that aren’t generating a income.So that’s this weeks dilemma .On a more positive note, the lambs that have made it are doing great and the last ewe looks like a candidate for twins,so we’ll see what she does.Most likely that scenario will go down this evening,when it starts raining.Better get they bottles ready to roll.
yesterday i woke up with a less than enthusiastic look on the days task at hand.Although i only had to worry about 6 head of cows that were personally mine,and 20 head of a friends,the reports we had received of our unruly bovines pushing the fences and escapading around our friends neighborhood some 120 miles from here didn’t seem like a very promising opportunity for a very good day.I guess it all started when a lonely Holstein heifer across the road from our girls saw the chance for some socialization next door and upon leaving her field and entering our pasture unwittingly knocked some fence down on her way in.Well low and behold those cows got together and came up with exit strategy (maybe they could teach our politicians a few things). Any who,those said cows (which happen to belong to yours truly) started to make their way through the countryside till a good willed neighbor got them turned around and called our friends whom sent them back where i wanted them to be.Apperently that momentary taste of freedom was just to sweet and a new plan was devised and executed with success,luckily for me they only made it next door to the neighbors whom has cows and understands their wanderlust.Well we showed up there yesterday, and long story short,were able to get quite a bit of exercise we had been missing this winter in the form of chasing cattle afoot,before they could get into what we were told was 140 acres of unfenced property,most of it being hilly and thickly wooded.So what was dreaded to be a day long gathering operation turned out to take an hour at most.Sometimes you have some good karma built up and it pays off.Now the girls are home where i can keep a close eye on them.The bovine road trip has come to an end.