Prepping for Winter

The nights are getting cooler every week here which means many different things to us. I love fall…it is by far my favorite season in the Rocky Mountains with all the leaves changing colors. I feel like I get to live in a rainbow for a good month.

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It also means that we have some big chores to get on such as splitting and stacking firewood, cleaning out wood burning stove (which we use 24 hours a day from about November until early March), cutting weeds, buying, transporting and stacking hay for the winter, and separating our ram. We managed to get about 2 cords of aspen wood stacked and have about 3 more to go.

We have been trying to tackle some of the mullein and thistle that grow so fast here in our environment. We spent a day this last week cutting them down, then tossing them onto a fire to kill the seeds and prevent their spreading. This is typically how we control weeds at our home since we don’t use any chemicals. The sheep do a pretty good job as well. Though they won’t touch the mullein, I have seen them eat the purple thistle flower, which I appreciate deeply.

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There are always lots of worms and ladybugs as we manage our earth here, which I love.

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We haven’t gotten to stacking hay yet, though we do have about 30 bales at this time. We estimate that we use about 12 bales per winter, per sheep. We try to sell lambs and get down to our core flock of about 9 to 10 sheep every winter. Last year we went through about 120 bales, and my sheep are always well fed. I prefer to err on the side of fat sheep rather than skinny sheep. It gets pretty cold in the winter, and with pregnant ewes, they need a lot of food. I think this is part of the reason that we have never lost a lamb, and always have super healthy babies born every spring.

As for Bruno, my ram, he has gotten very ram-y the last two weeks. The BFLs and Shelands wait until the nights cool off to begin going into heat, at least up here in Durango. I am worried that I waited a few days too long and he may have bred my girl Blue yesterday. The ewes kind of present themselves and want to hang out with the ram when they are in heat and that is what was happening. Bruno is a big boy, at about 300 pounds and he is really intimidating this time of year. He behaves more like Ferdinand the Bull during the spring and summer, but once his hormones start raging he can be really aggressive. I missed a near ramming two days ago just for bending down and petting one of the lambs.
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So he has to be separated right now until November when I let him breed my ewes. I find that it is more difficult (on me) to have babies during the colder months, and it is definitely more expensive to have heat lamps, purchasing of straw, etc. I aim for March lambs, right when it begins to melt snow here. I can also shear the mamas before they lamb, which is the only way to go as far as my experience has shown me, to save their beautiful wool from getting too much vm in it.

 

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