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CloversMum Posted - Mar 10 2014 : 9:34:18 PM
We moved to our land about four years ago and the land had previously been in the CRP program. Originally, it was farm land but had not been farmed for over 20 years. Now, we would like to improve our pasture, making grazing more profitable for our Jersey girls. We grazed a few head of steer last year and rotated them over several acres; then, we also had lots of chickens that we let free-range behind the cows. Is there anything else that we could be doing to improve the quality of our pasture? We were able to bale several tons of hay from the pastures, but the average per acre was quite low. Our farm critters have enjoyed the hay over this past winter! We would like to improve it as naturally as possible... but yet, as quickly as possible. Am I asking for the impossible?
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
CloversMum Posted - Nov 24 2014 : 7:39:23 PM
My goats would go right through 4 strand wire fences! We have 6' 2"x4" no-climb horse fence around our goat pasture. And, the kids are small too and can get through the smallest openings! But we separate the kids from the moms at birth and bottle-feed them their mama's milk...makes the kids very attached to humans and easy to milk when they are older.

I do like the fact that the Icelandic sheep are hardy. I get worn out during kidding season as we try to be present at each birth. This year I am considering leaving a couple of kids with the mama goat just to see how it goes. I still want milk but the work level would be easier if the mamas were caring for the young instead of me!
Ron Posted - Nov 24 2014 : 1:44:55 PM
Pretty much whatever works with goats works with sheep. I had corrals made out of sheep panels you get at the farm store the rest was four strand wire. The only things you gotta watch are the lambs. They are small at birth and get around pretty good. Icelandics hit the ground and they are up and going.
CloversMum Posted - Nov 24 2014 : 1:06:19 PM
Ron, you are putting ideas into my head! My family would tell me that is not a good idea; although, its amazing where we are now in just four short years...Five years ago, we lived in town on a city lot and had a cat and a dog. How boring it that?? And, I will have to say that all of my farm critters have sort of "fallen into my lap"...things just work together and all of a sudden, there I would be! That's how Clover came into my life...I so wanted a Jersey cow but thought that it would take forever to save up for one (we have kids still at home and tons of medical bills/needs!). And then my friend's cow delivered Clover, didn't want anything to do with Clover and my friend gave Clover to me since she couldn't afford the vet bills as Clover was so ill due to the infection. Yes, Clover required intense care but I got my sweet Jersey! And, she's now registered with the Heritage Jersey!

The chickens fell into my lap as well...a restaurant owner came and asked if I would raise chickens and sell them the eggs. A little family home & farm business came to me! I am so grateful.

My goats came about because I pursued them...although, I really had no idea which breed I wanted and friends had two does in their backyard that they didn't want in town any more. I started researching the Oberhasli breed and realized that it was a fantastic breed and I wanted them. They are registered, too. So the friends sold the two to me and the rest is history! I am so happy with the breed, too. That part definitely fell into my lap as I really didn't know what I was doing. I also met a lady who mentored me through the first few years of goat care and kidding. I'm wondering about the sheep...usually it takes about three different sources that all of sudden come to me regarding the same issue. I've had two nudges...we'll see if I get that third one!

What sort of fencing did you use, Ron, for your sheep?
Ron Posted - Nov 24 2014 : 09:43:25 AM
Icelandics do not require much shelter. Mine actually would leave the barn to go lay in the snow!
Easy shelters can be made with a few pallets and a little plywood.

Seems like a visit to the place close to you would be a good start! I would reccomend just starting with no more than two sheep. Ideal if the would sell you a couple bred ewes!
CloversMum Posted - Nov 24 2014 : 08:14:21 AM
What a gift and legacy left to you Mike! Hopefully, you are able to pass your skills on to someone else as well...truly a gift that can keep on giving! A large part of the gift would most definitely be the history involved with the spinning wheels and where you learned how to spin.

And, Ron, I did print off your message about the feed that you use for the COWS (not sheep...yet!!). Thanks! Although the funny thing was that I was just talking to a young friend that I ran into yesterday and she wanted to know if I ever raised sheep! I told her no but I was just introduced to the Icelandic breed...she LOVES that breed and said that she would love to help me! Oh my!! What is happening?? Really, truly we do not have the set up for more animals...we so desperately need a barn and a better set up for my chickens too. But I really do have a not-so-secret-now desire to learn how to spin wool.
NellieBelle Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 5:43:37 PM
How wonderful to learn to spin from your grandpa and a graduation gift of a spinning wheel. That is beyond cool. Yes, things made from years back had more pride put into them. A lot of that is lacking now a days. The carpenter work done years ago compared to now is an example. Things were built with skill and built to last, not thrown together so you can get to the next job. Pitiful. Thanks for sharing all this Mike. Absolutely fascinating.
Ron Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 5:25:52 PM
They don't make em like they used too. And if you live in the USA they hardly make anything anymore. Makes me want to cry sometimes.
Mike Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 5:22:53 PM
Meant to say 'bobbins' rather than 'spindles' when plying.
Mike Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 5:20:20 PM
Learned to spin from my German/Russian grandpa in North Dakota in 1950 or '51. Lots of fun. Learned to spin flax first, then wool. Have several wheels here now, one was my college graduation present from mom. Norwegian made wheel, came from Mt. Horeb, Wi area. Has an 1879 date hand carved on it. And some child's crayon drawings too. Came with two bobbins, really need three or more to do your plying with. I like to ply off the first two or three spindles right on to the next three, saves a lot of work.

Hand cards take a lot of time. North of here, and now in our own town there are carding mills that came from out east. The one north of us also has a sample carder that takes about a bushel at a crack. They have a 200 spindle spinning jenny and also a large sock machine, twenty or thirty pair at once. Cool stuff.
Like my old Pratt and Whitney rifle barrel making machinery, this stuff is cast iron from an age when craftmanship was something to be proud of. Who else would pinstripe a machine. Hell, my old Landis #1 harness stitcher has pinstriping on it too. It was made in the 1890's.

Ron Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 4:24:52 PM
Hi Charlene. They have kelp in fifty pound sacks on the product list not the seed list. DI is diatomaceous earth, the have that as well.
My cow eats all hay year round with some fresh grass when it is growing. They always have a Redmond mineral salt block and free range baking soda and kelp out as well as DI. Also when I milk they get about two pounds of flax pellets and two pounds of oat corn mix with some of the Fertrell dairy Nutribalancer number one. Fertrell has minerals and many other animal and other products for organic producers.
To date we have not had health or parasite issues with the cows or the SHEEP. Oops did I say sheep. Lol
Here is the link to Fertrel.
NellieBelle Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 3:12:29 PM
I see wool gloves, socks, cardigans etc. in Charlene's future. You could probably get the kids to help with carding the wool. I've always thought it would be fun to card, spin, weave. I'm pretty sure I would be sent away if the idea was mentioned. But such beautiful things can be made. It would certainly be a memorable art/talent for the kids to learn as well.
CloversMum Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 2:37:12 PM
Well, I think we will wait until we have a barn and more fencing up. Ron, what sort of fencing did your sheep require? And, did you rotate their pasture? I really do think a spinning wheel in the corner of my family room would be rather cool. My husband likes to watch movies and I hate to sit with idle hands...I could spin wool! Usually I'm doing some sort of hand-work such as knitting, crocheting, or hardanger embroidery.
Ron Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 1:59:31 PM
Yep. Nothing worse than picking wool full of VM. Lots of work.
farmlife Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 1:25:16 PM
Is that why people put jackets on the sheep, Ron? Is it just to keep the wool clean?
Ron Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 05:23:13 AM
Nothing cuter than a few woolly sheep bouncing around the place.
Ron Posted - Nov 23 2014 : 05:21:59 AM
Charlene it is going to be nine months till you get milk from Clover. Think of all the wool you can spin between now and then. I will warn you, keeping the sheep clean will save you time and work later. Always bed on straw and never feed hay on the ground if you can help it. If the wool gets lodged with VM ( vegatables matter ) guess who has to pick it out of the washed wool.
CloversMum Posted - Nov 22 2014 : 10:09:14 PM
Keeley, tell your sister that Nubians are very noisy! In fact, this past spring we had a family purchase two of our kid goats that had just gotten rid of their Nubians because they were incredibly noisy. My Oberhasli herd really is not noisy...I can easily get them to talk to me if I go out on the porch and call them, but they certainly don't sit there and "maaa" at everything. If she wants goat milk that tastes really good, then I highly recommend the Oberhasli breed as tastes the closest to cows milk out of all the goat breeds. I could go on and on about my Oberhaslis because I really do love them!

Ron, you are just a pest...putting spinning wool back into my head! lol Just what I need...another project. First, I need to learn to make cheese...but I suppose I could be learning while the sheep were helping with weed control?? See what I mean? The idea is stuck in my head now!! Yikes!
Ron Posted - Nov 22 2014 : 6:18:58 PM
Lots I can't do Keeley. Right now struggling to learn to cook and bake..uuuugghhh would rather fix a mile of rusty fence and rotted posts than work in the

When things settle down some I am thinking a few Icelandic ash hep around here again. I sure miss the weed control and actually did well with lambs and wool. Seems the Icelandics were no trouble up here.
farmlife Posted - Nov 22 2014 : 5:13:05 PM
You are awesome, Ron! Is there anything you can't do? My sister has Icelandic sheep, also some Jacobs and a few crosses of both. She just got a ram of a different breed that is very small. (I need to pay more attention, sorry. I've kind of been consumed by cows lately.) Her goal is to breed for a specific length and quality of wool with the idea that she will spin it. I think they have 11 sheep now with plans to have lambs in the spring or summer. She's also thinking goats after the first of the year, Charlene. Nubian cross I think. They have them all picked out, but are busy barn building right now, so they'll wait to go get them.
Ron Posted - Nov 19 2014 : 7:54:43 PM
Oh by the way, spinning wool is not hard. 😊
Ron Posted - Nov 19 2014 : 7:53:52 PM
Majestic animals, parasite resistant, very hardy animals. Whatever you do don't go look at them! You will fall in love with them.
CloversMum Posted - Nov 19 2014 : 7:10:29 PM
I've always thought it would be fun to learn how to spin wool; however, that would take some time and I don't have much of that lately. I looked up where some breeders are located and one is listed in Viola, ID, which is just 8 miles away! They certainly are a beautiful breed with their wool.
Ron Posted - Nov 19 2014 : 11:41:27 AM
My sheep were registered Icelandic, great animals. The line I was breeding was for fiber, breeding stock and milk of all up to thirty here. The wool was really sought after for hand spinners. The wool was natrually multi colored. If memory serves me the wool washed,picked and spun sold for $18.00 an ounce for organic wool. The meat last I remember sold for $8.50 a pound hanging weight. I never sold meat but some we sold sheep to did.
CloversMum Posted - Nov 19 2014 : 09:40:03 AM
Ron you rent out your sheep and I'll rent out my goats...thistle be gone!! Or maybe this is the push I need to get sheep now! My family would just laugh...hard to believe this city girl has gone so country and loves every single minute of it. What did you do with your sheep, Ron? Meat? Wool?
Ron Posted - Nov 19 2014 : 07:29:54 AM
Seemed like my Icelandic sheep loved it.they would run by and alfalfa bush and graze the thistle to the ground. We had a few areas of Russian and Canadian thistle here when I moved in and I have not seen it since! I better get some more sheep!