Explore the blog, Then Check out our website

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Chicken Scratch Poultry

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Chickens, The Gateway Drug - Preparing For Sheep

One of the hazards of keeping poultry is that they're the gateway drug to keeping lots of other livestock.  Well for the past couple of years I've been dreaming of keeping sheep and this spring we jumped in with both feet (like we do with most things) and decided to make it happen.  What do we have to lose, it's just sheep how difficult can it be??
I began by reading everything I could get my hands on, books, magazines, internet...Some magazines put so much unneeded information out there that it scares a person half to death before they ever get the sheep.  They tell you everything that can go wrong, without every saying that in all likely hood you will never encounter this problem.  So at this moment, I'm scared to death and excited all at the same time.  Kind of like with bee keeping, it's invigorating!

We have 16 acres of land but have not used the pastures in a very long time.  We had horses several years ago.  So to say the least the pastures are not in very good shape.  This spring we began mowing them early, we haven't kept them mowed well in the past and it seems there mostly weeds and not a lot of grasses.  Good news though, from what I read sheep love weeds!  The more we mowed the better the pasture has become.  Once the weeds are beat down the gasses and white clover started to fill in and it's beginning to look pretty good now.

We have no room in the barns for sheep so Larry constructed this three sided shed, just to give them some wind break during the winter.  Not bad for a days work, he's pretty handy, I think I'll keep him around.
We know that we'll need better accommodations for lambing but that will happen at a later date.

The next task is fencing.  Larry borrowed the neighbors equipment and the digging began.  Thank God for good neighbors!
Did you know that when using an auger you need to dig a little and then lift the auger so that it will throw the dirt out of the hole, then repeat, or an auger will dig to China???  Yes ask me how I know.  Well it just so happens at one point when using the auger it took hold down in the dirt and would not lift, every time Larry started it back up it dug deeper.  In his panic he began digging the thing out by hand with a shovel.  When his dear wife (that's me) seen what was happening (and she never yelled, what have you done) she began searching the internet for the solution.  Yes, the farmers wife saved the day, I need to share that in another blog for those other poor souls who have their auger stuck in the depths of the earth at this very moment and are frantically searching for a solution.  It's a rather sick feeling when you bury a borrowed auger in the earth!

On the fencing, we are concentrating on the paddock area first.  Just a place to keep them for the first couple of weeks while they get use to their new surroundings.  This will also be the area that they'll stay in during the winter months so they aren't destroying the pasture.
Larry is building this area as strong as fort Knox.  Hot wire on the bottom and hot wire on the top.  We don't have a guard dog, so hoping the hot wire will keep out the predators .
We think we will be installing five strands of high tensile wire around the pasture area.  If you have any experience using this I would love to hear from you.

We have 70 bails of hay stacked and ready to go.  We know that we need to ease them on to pasture since they have been off of pasture for about two weeks before they arrive.  I don't know how much sheep eat but this should be enough to last us through the winter months.  We're learning as we go, just like with everything else we do.
We'll be picking the sheep up this week and we're excited to meet our new flock.
I'll share with you soon what breed we chose, how many and where they're coming from in the next blog.
Do you have sheep??  Share with us, give us some of your wisdom or just wish us luck.  We look forward to hearing from you!
Have A Blessed Day!!

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