Friday, December 23, 2016

Observations Down Under

I traveled to Australia and New Zealand from November 25 - December 16, 2016. Here are some of my general observations:

  • Kangaroos aren't everywhere.
  • Hard to tell Kangaroos from Wallabees.
  • What Koala bears?
  • Feral cats and goats are pests, also rabbits and opossums.
  • Mediocre food.
  • Nice school buses.
  • With the exception of towns, speed limit is the same (100 kph), regardless of whether it's a flat, straight road or a hilly, curvy one. 
  • No four lanes in New Zealand
  • Difficult place to drive: I got stopped for going too slow (New Zealand) and I got a speeding ticket mailed to me (from Australia).
  • Barns are for milking, shearing, and handling, not for housing livestock.
  • Dense stocking rates.
  • In some places:  sheep on the left and right, ahead and behind.
  • Dirty butts.
  • Dewormers are used by the truckload.
  • Obsession with free-range poultry.
  • Chinese, Chinese, and more Chinese 
  • Cafe's not restaurants.
  • Stuff closes early, by 5 p.m.
  • Romneys and Merinos.
  • Merino + Possum (clothing).
  • Lamb in stores and on menus.
  • Farmers are the same everywhere.
  • Agriculture faces the same challenges everywhere.
  • Coke, not Pepsi. 
  • Perception of Green.
  • Interested in American politics:  who did you vote for?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I Love Baseball

I love baseball. My dad and I have half-season (35 games) tickets to the Hagerstown Suns.  With our package, I selected all the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday games. We can't get to all the home games, but when we miss a game, we can trade our tickets in for tickets for the other games.

My dad, fellow baseball fan

The Suns are an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. So, we've also become Nationals fans, since that's where Suns players will end up, unless they are traded or end their careers prematurely. In reality, most of the Suns players will never play major league ball. Most play to fill out the roster. There are some big league prospects. Sometimes, prospects never materialize and sometimes the roster players become prospects.

The Suns are a low-A team, meaning there are several more steps to the big leagues:  Potomac (high-A), Harrisburg (double-A), and Syracuse (triple-A).  Below the Suns, there is Auburn, a short-season single A league and a couple of rookie leagues. Most of the players start below the Suns. Bryce Harper started with the Suns and played a half season here. He played well, but you could tell he didn't like playing in lowly Hagerstown. Oh well, we enjoyed watching him. We saw him learn his way around the outfield and hit his first pro grand slam.

Victor Robles:  future major leaguer?

Besides Bryce Harper, we've had the pleasure of watching some of the National's other top prospects, many of whom are still working themselves through the National's system or are playing for other major league teams. Michael Taylor, a current outfielder with the Washington Nationals, played for the Suns several years ago. The Nationals' #1 prospect and #1 prospect in the majors (top 100) is Lucas Giolito. He played for the Suns in 2014, after coming off Tommy John surgery. He posted a 10-2 record and was awesome to watch. He's still in Harrisburg. The Nats aren't rushing him. The Nat's current #3 prospect (#58 of top 100) is Sun's center fielder, Victor Robles. The Dominican has an awesome slash line and makes some good plays in the outfield.

Ripken, Jr.  Chip off the old block?

This  year's Hagerstown Suns boast three sons of former Major league players. Ryan Ripken (1B) is hall-of-famer Cal Ripken's son. Mariano Rivera III is the son of future Yankee hall-of-famer Mariana Rivera Jr. Cody Dent is Bucky Dent's son.  Bucky Dent played shortstop for the New York Yankees. Among the three, Rivera seems to have the most potential. So far, we've only seen him pitch once. LIke his dad, he's a relief pitcher. Ripken knocks runs in, but has a sub-200 batting average. Dent seems to be stuck at single-A. I think it's his third year in Hagerstown.

So far, the Suns are 28-17 and tied for first place. They've got a number of players hitting over 300. RBIs are spread around. They've got a few guys who can steal bases. It's hard to keep up with the pitchers because there are so many of them, more than half the roster. Despite the Sun's good record, we haven't seen many good games yet. As the season progresses, I'm sure that will change.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Last One

The last lamb was born today. A ram lamb. Out of a black yearling ewe. Like the one that lambed a week ago, I hadn't planned on keeping her. But when I did, I put her with the ram (Eddie).

The other late lamb is a week old now. It is doing well. Not sure if I will put these ewes and lambs with the other yearlings or keep them together with the ram, so he'll be content, and I have some animals to graze the front yard pasture. If so, I'll need to move the outdoor creep feeder into the front yard. The open ewe needs to go to market.

So, lambing is officially over!  It was a very good year. The rest of the lambs are doing well. It will soon be time to wean the lambs from the mature ewes. The yearlings were bred three weeks later so their lambs will be weaned a bit later. This weekend, the mature ewes' lambs get their second CDT shot and a dose of First Drench (with praziquantel for tapeworms). The yearlings' lambs will get their first CDT and a dose of Vecoxin (for coccidiosis).

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Late Lamb Has Late Lamb

Last year's late lamb (May-birth) just had a late lamb.  A single ram lamb out of the new ram Eddie. She didn't lamb late; she was bred late. If fact, she bred as soon as I put her in with the ram. I wanted to make sure she was 12 months old when she had her lamb. There is another yearling that was bred late. She should lamb sometime in the next two weeks or so. A black ewe. Then, lambing will be officially over. The rest of the lambs are growing nicely, starting to eat a lot of creep feed.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Proud of This Year's Yearlngs.

Last year, I was very proud of my yearlings. Each of them raised a quality set of twins. This year's yearlings are also making their shepherdess proud. Eight ewes are raising fourteen lambs:  9 ewe lambs and 5 ram lambs. The first ewe had a single ewe lamb. The rest of the ewes gave birth to twins. One ewe had a deformed lamb (stiff, bent front leg) that I had put down. Thus, the yearlings' lambing percentage, assuming they wean all their lambs, is 175 percent.

One of the crossbred ewes with her twin lambs

Half of the yearling ewes are registered Katahdin. One will need a coat inspection to get her full registration paper, as she's 12 percent Hampshire x Suffolk: a Katahdin "Mule." The other yearlings are 16 percent Lacaune (dairy). Their lambs will be 8 percent Lacaune (92% Katahdin) and can be recorded as 50 percent Katahdin with the breed association. The daughters of these lambs will produce lambs that can be 100% registered Katahdin.

Of course, the yearlings are raising their lambs in the new carport barn. They have lots of room and fresh air. Sadly, it hasn't rained much since they moved in; so, I don't know how wet they might get from a good rain. I set up a creep pen in the corner of the end that is closed. I have some concern that the grain might get wet. If this turns out to be the case, I will put up a tarp in that corner.

In the carport barn

There are two more yearlings left to lamb. I hadn't planned on keeping them, but when I did, I put them in with the ram (Eddie). One is due May 9, as she bred as soon as she was joined with the ram. The other ewe should lamb soon thereafter. The mature ewe that didn't lamb yet doesn't seem to be bagging up. Her due date would be May 12, if she bred on the last day she was with a ram. It's doubtful. I think I'll put her in my freezer. She's fat enough. Maybe I can make bacon from her belly!

My ewe with EBVs is raising twin ewes.

You can only be making progress in your breeding program if your yearling ewes are raising some of the best lambs. I feel that this is the case with my flock.  I keep my yearling ewes as a separate production unit until after they wean their lambs. From now on, I think I'll keep them as a separate unit until they are bred for the second time.  I specifically had the carport barn built to house the yearlings and their lambs.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Carport barn

The new carport barn is ready for sheep. It was a four-phase project. The first phase required the removal of old structures (shed and fenced-in pen). The second phase was to level the building site. Three loads of gravel were used. The carport was installed on April 5. Today, the wood sides were installed, along with some eye  hooks to allow installation of gates to make smaller pens.

Ready for sheep!

Tomorrow, the yearlings and their lambs will be moved to the new building. Seven ewes have twelve lambs. One yearling has yet to lamb. A corner of the new building will be sectioned-off to provide a creep area for the lambs. I may put up some electric netting to provide a small pasture for the ewes and their lambs.

I plan to paint the outside of the wood sides, green to go along with the color of the carport.  I've decided to add another level of 2 x 4's (along the bottom of carport roof) in case I want to put tarps or curtains up to cover the open areas.. My dad's idea.