Before the animals arrive, I've got some serious shopping to-do for fencing, feed and putting together a veterinary kit to have on hand. My Grandma wanted to take me shopping for a birthday present so that I could pick out what I really wanted. The real answer is "I want a weedwacker", but in this case I think the correct answer is "let's go dress shopping".
Turns out garlic can be used to keep internal parasites at bay. You mix garlic with some molasses and water and give it to the sheep by mouth a few times a year. It helps to do this in conjunction with the right kind of mineral supplement. Sheep need their minerals kind of like people take vitamins. It will be in a container out on the pasture with them so they can lick at it as they please. This will be kind of an experiment for me because I haven't worked in a production system that isn't reliant on conventional wormers, but I'm happy to give it a shot.
Many of the things I need aren't readily available in stores nearby because they are kind of specialized for sheep and pigs. It makes me nervous not to have everything I could possibly need on hand in case of a veterinary emergency - I'm trying to strike a balance between being prepared and hoarding.
This week I sat down to make my grazing plan for the lambs. A grazing plan is an outline of where you expect your animals to be grazing at what time and for how long. I was maybe a little bit too excited to have an excuse to bust out my calculator. Cranking through the calculations felt like all kinds of fun muscle memory from engineering school.
The factors in play are how many animals you have, how much your animals weigh, what percentage of their body weight your animals eat every day, how many acres you have, how much grass is on those acres, how tall the grass is when the sheep get there and how tall the grass is when they leave.
It is one of those things where I'm making a lot of educated guesses and need to be prepared for the whole thing to be wrong. It might rain too much or too little at the worst time for making sure my animals have enough grass to eat.
The grazing plan has the big areas where my sheep will be over a period of weeks. I'll be moving my sheep everyday within those big areas in the Spring when the grass is at its most lush. In the Summer and Fall, I'll be moving my animals every few days when the grass slows down a little.
So far I've got through most of September planned out. I was pretty conservative in the amount of food for the lambs I'm expecting to be there and I'm trying to avoid bringing my lambs through the same piece of land three times in one season. It is better to give the grass time to grow back and it helps make sure there has been enough time for parasites left behind from the previous grazing have died. Fortunately there is some wiggle room in terms of finding other acres to graze on the incubator property. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Although our recent weather patterns make Spring seem far away, the lambs and pigs are coming on April 15th. That's only nine weeks! Sixty-three days! There's so much to do before they get here like buy fencing and troughs, rearrange the barn, make a grazing plan and put together events.
I feel lucky to be a part of such a supportive community in New Paltz and the Hudson Valley. Four Legs Farm is not possible without you.
To get over the initial hump of buying fencing I'm offering the Little Share until the animals arrive in April. It is 7 lbs of meat - lamb and pork together - for $100. Like the other shares you'll get an assortment of chops, sausages and other cuts along with a package of bones or fat from the Adventure Pack. They will be available at any of the four drop-offs - Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Phillies Bridge Farm, Huguenot Street Farm or here at Four Legs Farm this fall.
I'm planning a farm day in early May and can't wait for you all to meet the lambs and pigs! I'll have those dates for you soon.
Last week I visited my lamb guy in Dutchess County. The babies and mommas both looked good. It was fun to have the bottle-fed babies run up to me and start sucking on my knee. They are not entirely clear on what is a bottle and just bet that anything attached to a person might be a bottle of milk or at the very least get them some attention. The lambs in this picture are a couple of weeks old and I will get lambs when they are about ten weeks old, by then they'll be about 45 lbs. Some of the lambs I met will be my lambs - so exciting!
I wasn't kidding about being able to use lard in almost anything. Here I've got polenta, a beet-carrot brownie, collard greens and lentils. There is a lot of olive oil bandied about in these recipes. So silly.
Side note: beet-carrot brownies are super easy. I buy brownie mix, puree carrots and beets and mix them all together. If the batter isn't wet enough I add a little milk. You can play with the proportions - I like mine pretty root veg heavy. They cook a little differently than regular brownies and can take a little longer - keep an eye on them. Here I'm just reheating the brownie in lard for funzies.
Leanna at Four Legs Farm