Winter finally arrived this month. December's average temperature was 40F but that all changed after the new year began. We've been working on a few projects including a new chickencoop and an indoor sheep pen. This pic shows the pen and behind it you can see the light is on in the new coop.
The pen is for quarantine, or sick sheep, or isolating rams, or whatever we might need it for. We also opened the old doorway that you can see on the back wall, which had been boarded up, and built a new rolling door and hung it on the outside in the sheep shelter. This lets us go directly from the barn into the shelter, where before we had to go around through the gate into the sheepyard. It's a bit more convenient for feeding the sheep in this weather.
As it's gotten cold we have been getting little bits of snow at a time until now there's about 6 inches accumulated. The sheep don't care. They have a few inches of wool to keep them warm! Besides, they get to sleep on a cushy bed of hay. The hay we got this year was not the best quality (see previous post), so the sheep only eat the best parts and leave the "drinking straws" (the really mature grass stems). This has been building up into a nice soft bedding pack.
We had mentioned our poor hay quality to some friends who have horses and cut their own hay. She said they had some good clover/trefoil hay that we could try if we wanted to. So today I went over and picked up a bale. This stuff is like green gold. It's still as green as the day it was baled, and it's yummy! I wish I was a ruminant so I could eat it. We took some out to the sheep and put it in the hay feeder and there was pretty much a free-for-all as they jockeyed for position to get at it. It sort of reminded me of "musical chairs" because they kept pushing each other around the feeder. Everyone was sucking in as much as they could get. Rose has a new nickname now - "Shop-Vac". We actually took it back out because we were afraid they were going to gorge and then get bloat. I emailed our friends and told them we be willing to buy whatever they could spare of this stuff. A little of it will go a loooong way.
Glad you got some better hay. We too have some drinking straw hay this year (timothy stems). We even have some fescue mix that everyone except the cows kind of looks at us with a “are you CRAZY for putting this in our feeder!!” We also got some really good hay so we switch back and forth with it (no sense in completely wasting hay). The days that we feed the “not as good” hay they get some supplement added—a bit of grain and some chopped up alfalfa cubes. Bad hay year all around for those of us who have to purchase. We practically had to beg hay and we started shopping in beginning of September this year. Most years we don’t have to worry until end of November to feed or buy. Bummer year all around—too dry.
For some reason our rams are better about finishing the straws than the ewes who absolutely refuse to clean them up (I personally don’t blame them for leaving them) so we feed the rams the stemmier stuff most of the time now.
That was nice of your horse friend to let you buy some hay—maybe you can work out a deal with them for next year too. Did you purchase your “drinking straw hay” or is it from your property? We don’t have enough property to hay so we always have to purchase. If it came from your property–well, don’t worry. In time you will get the pasture fertility up and it will be much better. Time, time, time—every thing takes time :-) I get a bit impatient waiting sometimes though!
have a great day!