Ridgetop - our place and how we muddle along

Ridgetop

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We had rain yesterday and today. It is supposed to come in again over this weekend. DS1 says it is also supposed to rain occasionally during the entire summer. We have not had to feed any hay for 3 months to the sheep. And we have half the property still covered in forage. Dry forage is higher in protein so maybe we will not have to feed hay for another 3 months! :fl If this keeps up for several years, we may decide to stay. Especially if the gully fills partially with water and we can stock it with catfish! Maybe this climate change will cause southern California to become a rain drenched paradise! :D =D

Greybeard's property will become an inland sea. Don't sell it! You will have beach front property eventually! :clap
 

Senile_Texas_Aggie

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Miss @Ridgetop,

Just caught back up. Regarding:

I will pull up all STA's posts ad have him read everything Greybeard and others posted about tractors.
it's good to know that my journal provides something in addition to comic relief! ;)

DS1 and I changed the rams' crayons today
Huh? Was he getting bored with that crayon and wanted a different color? Does he draw in a coloring book?

Senile Texas Aggie
 

Ridgetop

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Tut, tut STA! He can't even color within the lines without his opposable thumbs! LOL

The crayons are square blocks of colored soft wax that fit into a "marking harness" that the ram or buck wears during breeding season. In the case of a large herd (200-1000 head) on pasture, it is not usually done but in a small operation like mine with registered sheep, I need to know which rams are siring which lambs from which ewes. I divide my ewes into breeding groups and put them with different rams depending on their bloodlines and what the ram will bring to the lambs in the way of conformation and meat. The colors of the different crayons get changed every 2 weeks. When the rams breed the ewes the crayon rubs off on their butt (see my Avatar). The ewes recycle every 3 weeks if not pregnant. Mating is shown by the soft crayon color rubbing off on the ewe's rump. By changing the color every 2 weeks you will know if the ewe "settled" (got pregnant) from the first mating or on a subsequent mating as shown by the different color marking showing up on her rump. You must check the ewes every day to make sure that another color does or does not show up. of course, you mark down the day that the ewe has a mark on her rump each time. The date the last color shows up and no subsequent color shows up on her is the last date she was bred. Gestation is 155 days. By writing down the date the ewe marks on the calendar you can determine what date the ewe will lamb. To be safe I write down all the possible lambing dates. The marking harness is the best way to know when each ewe will lamb so I can pen her in a lambing pen in the barn. If she needs help (dystocia) I can pull her lambs. It beats pasture lambing with my ginormous ravine in the back where they prefer to lamb. I do not have to chase the ewe all over the field or carry lambs up from the ravine to check the lamb, iodine the cord to avoid infection, vaccinate and dock.

Once the ewes are determined pregnant, I can combine the ewes and ewe lambs that are too young to breed yet into one flock and combine the rams into another pen. Then I can put the lambs at 7-8 months and any ewes that are not pregnant in with another ram and have that ram breed those ewes. He would be referred to as a "clean up" ram since he will cover any ewes that did not get bred before.

After 2 breeding cycles, I will decide which ewes may be culled or removed from the flock, Perhaps they did not breed in 2 seasons, or only deliver singles, or are unthrifty keepers (requiring excess feeding and handling to keep condition on). I need my little flock to produce to a certain standard or I will cull them and replace them with thrifty, productive animals.

IMG_0924.JPG IMG_0927.JPG Here is my old Dorset ram wearing a marking harness. The crayon is mounted in a holder under his chest between the front legs, held on by a system of adjustable nylon straps.
IMG_0921.JPG Here are some ewes after marking The ram was very enthusiastic and the crayon was soft in the heat.
 

greybeard

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Send some of that inland sea my way, I already got the beach sand!
Again?
Your area (and mine) was once part of a vast inland sea.
So was this..even the highest elevations in West Texas was under water, and you can reach down just about anywhere and find coral and other fossilized sea life.
When My brother and I were out there in 2017, he was amazed that there were so many sea shells everywhere. He was sitting with loose seashells under his feet. You can clearly see the sedimentary layers everywhere. Your sand is just mountains that eroded down.


 
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Ridgetop

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Just returned from the Modesto show and auction. What a lovely get away for DH and me! No children! No grandchildren! No cooking! The smell of livestock barns! The bleating of sheep! Talking to people that speak the same language! Social hour at the Mexican restaurant with people that don't mind discussing livestock diseases! Margaritas! Livestock seminars! Aaaah! :love

Got to feed the aforementioned kids and DH. Back soon. . . .
 

Ridgetop

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OK! Now to tell everyone about our lovely, lovely trip.

Major rainstorms were predicted for the weekend so we left on Friday. Had a leisurely drive up the I-5, stopping in the early evening for dinner, then on to Modesto. There was very little rain on the way. All the rain California had gotten had done well for the farmers. The reservoirs looked to be in good shape too - possibly a bit low still but certainly better than the past few years. As we drove through the San Joaquin Valley, all the crops looked good, the vineyards were doing well and the orchards were in great shape. Of course the lovely green croplands and vineyards were interspersed with large areas of desert looking brush. That is what happens when California gets no water on its fields. Our farmers were cut off from most of their water several years ago by our California lawmakers because Sacramento decided a tiny little minnow needed it more than they did to grow our food. It was nice to see the fields looking good from the rains.

We drove straight to Modesto Jr. College where the show was to be held. We dropped our trailer, and then walked through the barns looking around and greeting people we knew. Located the pens belonging to the breeders in whose animals I was interested and met the Utah breeders. Their ewes were lovely, and I was glad that I had checked into the different bloodlines before I came. They would all be a good fit with my ewes and rams, if I was lucky to get one. I checked out several other breeders but one was going to be too expensive for what they had. I was interested in only 2 spring lambs of theirs. I was a little worried since several breeders had not come to the show. A couple families had health or personal problems while another was moving his ranch and flock to other premises and couldn't make it. With fewer available sheep for sale, prices would be higher. It was possible that we would not be able to afford any ewes at all. If that were the case we would still have a good time, would attend the Social, and the seminar run by Raymond Read, a South African Dorper inspector and judge. We looked around, double checked the time the show was to start, and then went to the motel where we had an early night.

The next morning we were up early, had a big breakfast at the motel - DH loves Best Western because of their free hot breakfast! The day was overcast but the sun came out as we got to the showgrounds. We were in time for complimentary coffee and donuts. We bought raffle tickets - the raffle was supporting the youth program. (I did not win but the raffle tickets will be tax deductible as a charitable deduction.) Next I wandered around the barn meeting people and lusting over the ewes I wanted. LOL Finally, DH and I got into our seats. Bleacher seats and very uncomfortable for old people like us. :old We have comfortable padded large stadium seats, BUT they were in trailer which was in the shop getting checked out before our trip to Texas. Next year I will take them out. Thank goodness the club had made another giant pot of coffee. The rain began to pour down outside.

The show finally started an hour late. This judge did things the south African way, I guess. instead of just having the exhibitors enter the ring and parade around with their sheep, he had a separate little pen set up. The exhibitor would turn their entry loose and let it move around freely before putting the halter back on, entering the ring and joining the line up. Most of the sheep did not want to walk around all alone in that little pen and tried desperately to return to their flock buddies. Lots of sheep screams! Some of the black headed Dorpers tried to jump out of the pen! Most of the sheep had to be chased around to make them move away from the gate they had entered through, and behind which were the rest of the sheep. One tht ordeal was over the owners rehaltered them and tried to get them into the ring. Many of the sheep tried to strangle themselves on their halters as the owners attempted to walk them into the ring. Having trained numerous lambs to halters in my time and laughed as my children tried to do the same, I was able to appreciate :lol: that it was happening to others and not me. The show settled into a calm routine and I was able to make lots of notes about the entries in the classes I was most interested in.

Having started late, the show proceeded to run 2 hours later than planned. The Board meeting was rescheduled to be held after the Social at the Mexican Restaurant. Luckily the rain had eased off and we were able to get to the restaurant while the rest of the exhibitors were feeding. As it turned out this was lucky for us because there was almost no parking at the restaurant and we were driving our big truck. This restaurant had been selected because it was walking distance from the Marriott where most of the exhibitors were staying. We were at the Best Western, thus saving over $50.00 per night to put on our sheep purchases. The Marriott didn't offer a free hot breakfast either. :clap The walking distance may have sounded great when the board was planning this shindig, but considering the pouring rain no one would be strolling to and from the hotel! Anyway, the food was ok, the drinks ok, and prices very ok, and the company was terrific. We met a lot more fun people and shared lots of livestock stories about ourselves and others. Then back to the good old Best Western for another early night before the auction the next morning. Again it rained heavily all night.

After another good, hot breakfast, DH and I arrived at the showgrounds at 8:20 a.m. It was not raining, and a group of people were standing in front of the pavilion. DH and I hitched the trailer, then walked around to the front since the side doors were unaccountably locked. The group turned out to be the auctioneers who had been waiting there since 8:00 a.m. The facility was locked up tight. The auctioneer had been making calls to get hold of the chairperson. Finally the college security people showed up, opened the building, and turned on all the lights. By now it was almost 9:00 a.m. and still no one had showed up to organize the auction or feed and water their animals! Our little group decided that the Board had partied late and were probably nursing hangovers back at the hotel. :eek: Once inside, the auctioneers raced off to set up the auction. In the absence of any show personnel, I proceeded to start making the coffee. It was an emergency situation - lack of caffeine! Finally, another exhibitor showed up and she and I finished making the coffee. The committee arrived at 9:30 with the donuts and the activities began - only 2 hours late. After checking the silent auction, I found a number for the person selling large field "scratchers". they were actually the brushes off street sweepers. The young man selling them was earning money to support his breeding projects in 4-H and FFA. He got them from his uncle who owned a street sweeping business, and sold them as field scratchers for livestock! He had brought 10 to sell and I got the last one. I thought it might help the Dorpers rid themselves of their shedding wool. I registered for the auction, got the printed auction list, and collected my number.

Finally, it was time for the seminar and we trooped off to the classroom to hear what Raymond Read had to tell us about the Dorper breed and its uses. His seminar was much more informative though, since he also talked about setting up your first tie business flock, etc. I found the seminar extremely interesting and much better than a simple talk on what to look for in show animals. He discussed the progression of the breed over the past 80 years, what to look for in breeding stock (not just show stock, but in commercial breeding flocks), and a lot of other useful information. The junior members who had won the essay contest were introduced and presented with their prizes. They received vouchers in a certain amount they could use to spend for breeding stock animals. The vouchers were good for up to a year but the kids probably spent them at the auction.

After the seminar we all trooped out into the barns again. The judge had the Champion black Dorper ram, and the Champion white Dorper ewe (surprisingly a fall lamb) brought up to the arena. He then pointed out the excellence of each, and showed what you should look for and how to judge your own animals. Judge Read answered questions. Instead of going off afterwards and just hobnobbing with the major breeders, Mr. Read then made himself available to anyone who wanted him to look at animals they were interested in buying. I asked his opinion on several ewes I was interested in, and he amplified why they had placed where they did in the show. His only critique was that their heads were slightly coarse, but since he told me that was the easiest flaw to improve by using a buck with a good head I was delighted. Several people had him look at their animals that had not placed well, or had been DQ'd for color spots, wool, shoulders, mouths, etc. and for his opinions on how to improve. He spent the entire morning until the auction started walking through the pens and talking to exhibitors, buyers, and most importantly, those of us just starting out with this breed. He was a wonderful person to have as a judge and teacher, as well as a great spokesman for the Dorper sheep.

One would think that it was NOW time for the auction but NO! they were still running late. A lunch wagon had been contracted for and they were serving a special Dorper lamb dish. I bought a plate for DH and myself. DH had wisely found a chair and moved it over to the bleachers where the bidding was to take place. He was a lot more comfortable in the chair than on the bleachers. He was enjoying chatting with a group of people. Finally, it was time for the raffle drawing for the black Dorper and the White Dorper yearling ewes. I did not win the beautiful White Dorper ewe, but I was super happy when the winner showed up to claim his prize and turned out to be a little boy about 10 years old! What a great start for him in his breeding project!

The lots on which I wanted to bid were at the end. :pop The powers that be decided to sell from the youngest to the eldest and alternate black and white Dorpers. Very odd. The bidding was kind of low too. Disappointing for the consignors, some of whom had come from Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and Utah. I wrote down all the prices and many animals did not get the minimum bid and were passed out. A few animals went high, but most were going for around $500-700. Anyway, at the end of the auction Yearling White Dorper rams were selling. I ended up buying a yearling ram. I didn't need him, but he was soooo nice I put up my card at the bottom price. Surprise! :epThere were no other offers and I got him for $400.00! I was shocked since this breeder sells privately off his ranch for a lot more than this. He told me afterwards that he forgot to put reserves on his rams. The auction was winding down and the last lots were coming in. I was worried since often the highest prices are bid at the beginning and at the end when people realize they need to bid if they want anything. I was lucky enough to get 2 of the yearling ewes I wanted for the minimum opening bid of $400 each! I had to pay a bit more for one of the ewes but $700 was not extreme. Remember these were all registered animals with great bloodlines and structure. After the auction ended, the Utah breeder I had bought 3 animals from offered me another ewe. He had a reserve on her of $1000.00 since he wanted to keep her. I thought she had sold for $700 but since it did not meet the reserve, she didn't sell. He offered her to me and I bought her for $750. Luckily, since that was the end of my budget! I was also offered another ewe by a Dorper exhibitor I became friends with. She did not want her since she was the only White Dorper she had. I would have picked her up on the way home but she was ready to lamb any day and I did not want to take a chance on her lambing on the way home in the trailer. We were already transporting a ram and 7 ewes. Luckily, our 16' stock trailer has 3 compartments. It was designed for the dairy goats so all the doors have sliding gates on the swing gates. So wonderful for loading the small stock with out danger of broken legs from the heavy swing doors! She is giving me a great price on her and I told her I will pick her up after she lambs and the lambs are weaned. The lambs are out of a black headed Dorper sire so the lambs only have value as locker lambs. The meat price on the lambs will help make up the value of the ewe who is an inspected and tagged Type 5. I will pick her up in another 2 months and she will be rebred in September to Lewis along with the fall ewe lambs.

We had a great time at the show and sale. Axtell is already harnessed, and in with the ewes we bought - they are in quarantine together. The ewe lambs are in quarantine also, as is the half sister to Axtell who will go to Lewis or Ramborghini in a couple weeks.
Axtell 19330  Lot 15(1) .jpg Axtell 19330  Lot 15(2) .jpg Here is Axtell harnessed up and ready to do his duty. Love the length and hind quarters on him. My bid card went up all by itself!

Axtell 19313 Lot 22  (3).jpg Axtell 18003 Lot 20 (1).jpg Axtell 19313 Lot 22  (4).jpg AAC 013 Lot 45 (1).jpg The other 4 ewes we bough at the auction. This last ewe is an AI ewe from imported Australian lines that we got at the Mother's Day on line sale. GLD 8111 Nonning (2).jpg Axtell ewes & ram (2).jpg The final picture is of the ewes and ram in the barn relaxing. The ewe at the end of the barn is the one that won't be bred to Axtell but will go to one of the other rams. She is the half sister to Axtell and the second ewe pictured above. Ewes 1 and 3 have the same sire - an S Bar T ram. The 4th ewe is taller, lovely, and is out of similar bloodlines to my original ewes. The pictures are not that good since they had spent 48 hours in the trailer and 14 hours on the road. They were happy to be out of the trailer but nervous at being separated for the few minutes it took to walk them into the barn.

My pretty girls and guys! A couple of the others have recycled , but lambing dates will be September through October for the first group, and February-March for the next group. So excited! Amazing buys too. For all the sheep I bought at the last 2 sales, my price per head averaged out to $490! All but one is 1 year old or less, while the ewe I pick up after she weans her lambs is only 2 years old. They are all healthy, excellent bloodlines, beautiful structure, and in great condition.
:weee
I am lucky that sheep stealing is not a hanging offense or I would be in danger of the noose! :gig
 
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