Friday, March 20, 2009

Ok well today was a glorious day on the farm. Plenty of sunshine and no wind, which is unusual for this area. The pictures above are a few years old, at the moment there is no green grass here, but I wanted to show you a couple of pictures that relate to feeding sheep. Hand feeding sheep is an ongoing job here at this time of year and that's what I was doing this morning. We have 4 small ewe mobs, all due to lamb during April. Three of the mobs are around 150 ewes and the fourth is about 200. We have 2 separate shearings on our farm, July and September, and hence 2 different families of sheep. So two of the mobs are July shorn ewes 2 are september shorn. At this stage I am only feeding 3 of these mobs. The fourth is on a relatively fresh barley stubble that will carry them for a bit longer without the need for feeding them. I've organised myself so that sheep feeding is a relatively simple procedure that take up too much time. Although it wont sound simple as I describe it to you. Ok, we only handfeed with grain, we dont cut any hay or buy any in, it's only grain that we keep for this purpose or screenings off the seed grader or leftover seed etc. At the moment we probably have about 40tonne of all sorts of grain, from peas to wheat and barley, even vetch if you want to look really hard, on hand. The system works like this... our little D series Ford tipper (which is pictured on my blog now) is set up as our seed and super unit so it works well with the heaslip elevator. What I do is fill the truck with grain (the sheep feed), using the auger, out of the field bin it's stored in. Then I just park it in the shed and tip it up. I leave it tipped up so that when I need some feed I can just pull in and it's already tipped up so the grain can easily flow out. My Courier ute (the tipper not the dual cab) is set up with a grain feeding bin on the back. This is a great little invention that Bob, one of our land lords, made when he was running sheep. It's just a little bin that bolts on the tray of the ute. It holds about 8 bags of feed. It narrows down to a cross auger along the bottom of the bin with an opening on the drivers side where the feed is augered out on the ground as the ute slowly moves along. It has an electric motor (actually an old Bedford starter motor) that drives it, and is operated with a switch inside the ute cab. I simply reverse in under the elevator behind the Ford tipper truck to fill the bin. It has a hinged lid on top and is very easy to fill. It's a great little unit. The smaller mobs get about half a bin full each, and the bigger mob get basically a full bin. And yes I know the maths doesn't work out there... ie. they get twice as much feed, but there isn't twice as many sheep, but I've never actually thought about it that much before. Perhaps I'll have to cut em back a little bit next time. As it's pretty early in the feeding season I'm only feeding every 3 or even 4 days, but that'll get more frequent as we get into lambing. I also fed one of the mobs of whethers today. It's unusual for us to feed whethers, but they have eaten out the paddocks on the block they're on - even the paddocks they weren't supposed to be on... they seem to have no trouble jumping the fences which are in a run down condition. But they need moving to fresh wheat stubbles on another block of ours that is about 10 km away, and they would be too weak to make the journey at the moment. We don't have any other means of transporting them, other than on foot, at this stage, so I'm feeding them a little to see if I can pick them up a little. I do have an Atkinson truck with quite a long tray. If only I had a stock create I could put on it I would be laughing. So in total 4 mobs fed today, which took me probably about an hour, maybe hour and a half, this morning. So sounds complicated, but really pretty steamlined. I also heard that the tonne of Duram seed I orded about 3 years ago has turned up at the local rural supply store. I cant remember what variety it is. But I'm eager to try Duram for something new. Be a good opening crop in our rotation. I'll go into our rotations another time. So that was all I basically got up to farmwise today.

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