Monday, January 31, 2011

The Last Weekend in January...

We woke up on Saturday morning to find 8 inches of new snow on the ground.  It was beautiful powdery snow that sparkled in the sunshine.  I really enjoyed the day, plowing the drive to the road and the drive back to the horsebarn.  Twice we had neighbors stop in to visit...  it was a very rare winter day where the sun brought people outside who have spent most of the last month holed up inside avoiding the cold.

We made it to the Shiawassee Trail Riders meeting on Saturday Evening and had a good time...  A few unsuspecting folks made the mistake of asking about our sheep and they got an earful about eating locally, knowing your food, and the virtues of raising your own meat.  I really think it is important for people to think about where their food comes from, how it lived, and what it ate.

Sunday was a very eventful day, we penned the 19 ewes who are in the barn and one by one caught them, tipped them on their rumps, vaccinated them with CD&T, wormed them with injectable Cydectin, and trimmed their feet.  CD&T is a vaccine against tetanus and several other clostridium toxins, we give this to the ewes 1 month before they are due to lamb and the ewes will pass some immunity on to their lambs.

We did have one mishap during the procedure...  poor Annie, our white Merino ewe who is arguably our most spectacular ewe got a sore leg thanks to my mistake.  Tipping ewes up can be a hassle (especially for those of us who are challenged in the height department) she tried to get one of her back legs underneath herself on my first attempt to flip her and that leg got bent back uncomfortably.  She was limping a bit yesterday but is moving much better today.

I just feel terrible when I hurt them needlessly... I know it is part of farming and mistakes will happen, but my forementioned need for approval from my peers is second only to my need to beat myself up with guilt when I do something stupid.  In the long run, I think guilt makes me more careful and more thoughtful about how I handle my animals so it is probably a good thing.

On my way out the door to work this morning, I made a sidetrip to the barn to check on Annie...  although my vivid imagination had produced images of a leg swollen to gigantic proportions turned black with gangrene, reality was much less dramatic.  A very slight limp which was even better this evening.

This Friday the shearer is coming to shear the ewes...  In an ideal world, it would be nice to combine giving shots, foot trimming, and shearing all at one time so as to avoid the stress of penning and catching the ewes twice, but I think it is important to respect the shearer's time and have these extras done so all he has to do is shear and not wait on us.  Plus, the more we handle our ewes in the month before they lamb, the calmer they seem to be when lambing time arrives.

The weather forecast is calling for massive quantities of snow for this week.  The latest reports called for snow accumulation of 8 to 15 inches by Wednesday.  We shall see...  February might start with a whiteout!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lean on Me...

When you own livestock, you somehow build a group of friends who have the same kinds of animals you do.  These groups become known as your "horse friends" or your "sheep friends".  You know that even if you have nothing else in common, you are both insane when it comes to at least one thing.

Tomorrow night we are going with "horse friends" to the annual meeting of the Shiawassee Trail Riders.  There will be a dinner, a benefit auction, and a club meeting, but no-one would go if the draw was the food, auction items, and meeting agenda...  nope, these will be passable, but could all likely use a little more flavor.  The draw will be the comradery, the socializing, and the friendships with people who share some insanity with us.

It is nice to have these groups of friends to talk to, learn from, and lean on when you need to. 

We spent most of the day at the farm of some "sheep friends" who were due to start lambing today but got called to work for part of the day.  They didn't see any signs of labor this morning but asked if we would keep watch for them just in case.  It is nice when people think enough of you to trust you with their farm...  it is even nicer when you know they feel they can ask you for a favor.  I like to be the kind of friend that can be called on.

We arrived at their farm around 10 AM and by the time we left at 4:30 PM, there were 5 ram lambs and a ewe lamb on the ground.  That's what you call a population explosion!  There were lambs shooting out left and right and more ewes showing subtle signs that they weren't far behind.

I am sure that these "sheep friends" will be up through the night checking on ewes and lambs.  As much as I am looking forward to the start of our own lambing season, right now I am looking forward to a good nights sleep.

Sleep tight and stay warm!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Perspective from the Barn...

We are one step closer to lift-off folks...  We are like mission control counting down the days and checking off the "to do" list.  Today I ordered supplies from Pipestone Veterinary Clinic, American Livestock Supply, and Valley Vet Supply and spent a bunch of cash on lambing supplies and horse wormers.

This evening we also moved the Cheviot and Merino ewes in the barn...  it was snowing pretty good out and we need to get the wool dry for shearing in a week.  The dreary gray days and long cold nights of winter are SOOO much more tolerable when you are preparing and planning for lambs.

I think that the world would be a better place if everyone had animals to care for.  It puts things in perspective - the things that are truly important, how fragile life is, how the simple things are the sweetest, nothing worthwhile is easy.

Where does YOUR perspective come from?

Stay warm!

Fitness Guru for a Day...

I am not sure that I have mentioned my current obsession with a certain fitness class...

...well, I haven't mentioned it very much.

This class is a GREAT time...  A combination of latin dance, cardio-aerobics, and the best dance party you have ever been to.  Zumba ROCKS!

So last night I arrived for Wednesday night class and found that the instructor was not there yet?!?!  Pretty unusual for her, but it happens.  About 10 minutes before the class was to start, her truck came pulling in to the parking lot and out jumped her husband.

It turns out that about 20 minutes earlier, she starting vommiting violently and was unable to leave the safety of her bathroom.  It was much too late to notify anyone that class was cancelled so she sent her husband with the CD of the music and instruction that "Rich and Rachel know the songs and can run the class and everyone can Zumba for free tonight".  WHAT?  First the Stylish Blogger Award and now Fitness Guru of the Day?  Pinch me!

Had I found out any earlier that I would be thrown into teaching the class, I may have had a chance to get nervous, but luckily by this time there were only a few minutes to get my shoes on and get started.  It was a full house and we had at least 30 people Zumba-ing their little hearts out.

What a RIOT!!!  I quickly settled in to my preferred and sought after role as COA (center of attention) and probably hammed it up just enough to be entertaining (or completely annoying).  I hardly could believe that running a group excercise class could be so much fun and by the end, phrases such as "TIGHTEN UP THOSE ABS" and "BURN OFF THAT CHEESECAKE" were flowing out of my mouth like I was auditioning for the role of Richard Simmons.

Who knows what the future holds?  Maybe becoming a certified instructor?  Maybe nothing?  But I do know that I had a great time and got more than my minimum required dose of approval from my peers (which as I mentioned has been a lifelong need).

This week the world may have lost Jack Lalanne, but another fitness guru has risen from the ashes...

...or smelled like the asses?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Straw Shake Down!

Today while I was off to work, diligently earning my keep, Wayne was at home spreading straw in the barn.  For the next week, we will move the ewes in the barn when the weather is bad so that we can get all of their fleeces dried out for shearing.  The shearer will be here on Friday, February 4th and will harvest our wool crop from the first 19 ewes who will start to lamb in about a month.

Why Straw???

At one time, straw was the "go to" animal bedding, but today a lot of people use wood shavings, ground up corn husks, shredded newspaper, etc.  With sheep, straw is really the best option for several reasons...  First and foremost, it isn't likely to contaminate the wool.  Wood shavings can become little slivers of wood that get tangled in the fleece and render the wool garbage.

If we were more talented than we are, we would figure out how to spin the straw in to gold, but instead we spread it on the floor and let the sheep deficate and urinate in it...  As the manure accumulates, we will put more fresh straw on top.  As the manure and straw "break down" underneath, it will create heat and the barn floor will act as a giant heating pad for the lambs to be born on. 

It is important that we keep the barn well ventilated and that we keep a fresh and clean layer of straw on top of the manure pack.  We will also use "Stall Fresh" granules to neutralize the amonia from the urine.  Once lambing season is finished, we will spread the manure pack out on one of the pastures and all of those nutrients will go back into the ground

Wayne also put up our barn calendar where we will record births, birth weights, and other important info (dinner dates, Zumba classes, my birthday, etc).

As usual, the barn work was closely monitored by Dozer the Cat and he was completely unimpressed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Say it with STYLE!

Who knew I had anything to say?  (besides those of you who have known me for years and have been trying to get me to SHUT UP for most of that time)…

When I first started this blog, I decided not to let anyone know about it until I had a few posts under my belt – after all, I didn’t know whether I would even LIKE writing about the daily happenings around our farm.  The problem was, being the lifelong approval junkie that I am, I couldn’t stand the fact that I had posted something and didn’t have anyone reading to let me know if it was useful, funny, and entertaining or merely self indulgent crap.

I first asked my very good friend Sue, whom I work with, for her opinion.  She read the first two posts and promptly told me that anyone who would want to read this garbage clearly had less of a life than I do… 

So imagine my surprise, that I have been nominated by two exceptional bloggers for the “Stylish Blogger Award”…  What’s this???  Me???  You like me!  You really like me! (Apologies to Sally Field)

Thank you to Olddog at Yellow Dog Farm and to John at Going Gently for the nominations.  And thank you to everyone else for reading!

One of the “conditions” of this award is that I must share 7 personal things about myself that you may not already know:

1) Back in my school days I was active in the marching band and played several musical intruments.  I was elected “drum major” (the bossy leader) and have very fond memories of those days.  Hours of grainy home movies of various parades, halftime shows, and other events still exist in the vaults waiting to become featured in my “Before they were Stars” episode.

2) I have a “love affair” with food and at least twice in my life have lost close to 100# in less than a year timeframe.  I feel that I am more healthy today than I have ever been, but there is always the thought in the back of my head that I am never safe from being back where I started.  I don’t ever want to be out of control again and it is a constant fear.

3) I am very proud to have graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from a top college.  My current job utilizes ZERO of this degree, but I learned that I am capable of accomplishing things I could never imagine.  I don’t have your typical “engineer” mind…  I am more visual and artistic naturally, but that time at school was the first time where I really pushed myself to places I didn’t know I could get to. 

4) I was a momma’s boy when I was very young.  I remember my first day of preschool when my mother told me as we were walking in that there was no reason to be upset – she would pick me up at the end of the day.  I remember thinking “upset about what”?  Minutes later as she was walking out of the room, I was crying like a baby – that is until they brought out the modeling clay and once my snake was complete, I never looked back.

5) I had a healthy fear of big dogs when I was younger…  They moved fast and had big teeth and I was very intimidated.  I would never have imagined that I would have six of them sleeping in bed with me as an adult.

6) I think that I am a terrible salesman…  My thought is that I should tell you not only what is good about what I have for sale, and not only what is bad, but also everything that might possibly go wrong or has gone wrong with something else or problems someone else had with a similar product, or a nightmare I had about a product that slightly resembled what I am selling…   I guess I figure that if you know all of that and still want it, then I will sell it to you.

7) I am the first one to look at the way “kids” dress today and complain about their sloppy appearance, the dirty looking hair, the inappropriate underwear showing because the jeans are riding too low, the ripped up jeans, etc.  However, the first thing I did when I reached my goal weight was to buy a BRAND NEW pair of ripped up jeans from American Eagle…  I really like them and I wonder if possibly pictures leaked out to the internet of me wearing these jeans – this might explain my “Stylish Blogger” award?????

Thanks again for the nominations!  It is nice to know that people are enjoying the blog!  I need to pass this award on so stay tuned for MY nominations...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sheep Feeder Design

Through the years we have gone through various iterations of hay feeders for our sheep.  The first ones were made of leftover or scrap lumber and worked okay but were either too heavy, or allowed too much hay chaff to get into our fleeces.  We tore them apart and rebuilt them a few times but finally scrapped them altogether and came up with a new design.
These feeders are great and work well for us.  They have a nice deep tray for the hay to sit in while the sheep are sifting through to eat the best morsels first.  We have a lot less wasted hay and our fleeces are much cleaner now.

The bottom tray is made of a frame of 2 x 6's screwed to a 2 foot x 8 foot plywood base (sheet of plywood split the long way).  The top frame is 2 x 4's in the same configuration.  The top frame and bottom tray are then attached with six legs made of 2 x 6's.  Finally, sixteen 1 x 4 slats finish things off...

Pictures say it best!

These feeders are pretty inexpensive to make and are an easy day project.  We usually get all of our lumber cut first and then assemble it with wood screws.

We have a few minor changes for the "Outside Feeder" version (cleverly named as it is intended for use outside of the barn...  sometimes I amaze myself with these moments of genious).  The plywood base is replaced with rough cut planks from the Amish Sawmill and 1 inch drain holes are drilled in each corner.  We are also working on making covers for the outside feeders which seem to help saving hay from rain, snow, and sun bleaching.

They are made from the same rough cut planks we used for the trays and have slats screwed to the bottom which hold them from sliding and falling in.

We do not use any treated lumber for these feeders, but this spring/summer I would like to power wash them and protect them with something safe that will not harm the sheep...  Any suggestions?

I am no carpenter but I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist.. you can imagine that these homemade carpentry projects can be a little frustrating when they don't turn out exactly "perfect".  I have learned to accept these "little mistakes" as my signature.  A split board here, a crooked cut there...  That is how you know it is my work (I think they call it "folk art" on Antiques Roadshow).

So remember when you are working on your own projects and things aren't going exactly as planned - life is a canvas, don't forget to sign your work!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Firewood and Puppies...

The cold snap continues - we didn't get out of the single digits today and we were running out of firewood.  Unfortunately, it was so cold that the diesel truck wouldn't start.  We tried jumping it, charging the battery, swearing at it, kicking it...  She just wouldn't roar to life.  It is probably time for some new batteries for the old girl, but we'll see what happens when the weather turns warmer.

So we ended up taking the little baby truck to pick up some wood from our good friends Mel and Roberta.  They have horses, Texas Longhorn Cattle, and just recently got two new Chihuahua puppies...  Truth be told, I think that I was more excited about going to visit the puppies than anything else.
Here I am holding Lily and Sofia

Mel and Roberta are fun to visit, they fill the table with snacks and we talk and eat (two of my favorite pastimes).  Mel and I usually partake in the latest cocktail he has come up with.  It is definately a good way to spend a cold Sunday afternoon.
Roberta and Mel with my puppies...

All of that fun and we still remembered to pick up the firewood...
Our dogs supervising the wood delivery...

There were a few things we had planned to do this weekend that got pushed back because it was just TOO cold out.  Tomorrow is another day.

Stay Warm!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Right as Rain (or rather snow)...

Good News...

Be it the antibiotic shot, the wormer meds, or just good luck, the ewe is back to her sassy self again.  She is meeting us at the gate when it is feed time and once again eating like she is at the Chinese buffet and a busload of Sumo Wrestlers just pulled in. 
Jammers is feeling fine!

This week we put out tubs of Kent's EnergiLass Sheep 15 for the ewes who are due to start lambing in 5-8 weeks.  It is a 50 pound tub of a molasses based supplement with protien, fat, fiber, and a lot of different vitamins and minerals.  This is useful not only in giving the ewes the extra vitamins and minerals, but also to ward off Ketosis (pregnancy toxemia) which I mentioned in the previous posting.

Nutritional Analysis - Kent EnergiLass Sheep 15
Crude Protein, min
Crude Fat, min
Crude Fiber, max
Calcium (Ca), min
Calcium (Ca), max
Phosphorus (P), min
Magnesium (Mg), min
Potassium (K), min
Manganese (Mn), min
400 ppm
Selenium (Se), min
3.5 ppm
Zinc (Zn), min
1600 ppm
Vitamin A, min
55,000 IU/lb
Vitamin D3, min
5500 IU/lb
Vitamin E, min
425 IU/lb

This is in addition to our loose mineral/salt mix which the sheep always have access to.  We use a loose mineral mix from Armada Grain.  It is very high in selenium which our area of Michigan is deficient in.  Selenium is very important for muscle health, immune health, etc.
Supplement tub and loose mineral feeder

It has been very cold the last few days with temperatures in the single digits.  I have been enjoying my new thermal undies and wool socks... 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just Not Right...

We have a Merino ewe who has been a little "off" for the last two nights.  She has just been moving a little slower and eating with a little less enthusiasm.  She kind of acts like I do the day after I have had a little too much Merlot... (or more likely a LOT too much)

When you have animals, you get to know them well enough to sense when they aren't feeling themselves and in the case of a ewe who is 5-8 weeks away from lambing, you need to be on your toes.

Sheep are prey animals and their survival instincts program them not to show weakness...  This can mean that when they finally DO show signs that they don't feel good, you don't want to take the "wait and see" approach because they REALLY don't feel good.

Our Process of determining treatment:

Ewe's Temperature is 102.2 (normal for a sheep)

Pregnancy Toxemia is not likely - this is an illness that effects overfat or overthin ewes in late pregnancy carrying multiple lambs.  Essentially the ewe does not have enough room in her stomach for feed so she starts burning fat reserves at a really high rate.  This releases Ketones into her system which the liver can not filter out.  Usually leads to death.  This ewe is neither thin nor overfat and it is a little too soon in the pregnancy for this to be an issue.  As a preventive, we have put molases based sheep mineral tubs out for the ewes.

Pneumonia - Our temperatures have been all over the board this week and we have had some wet weather, and the ewe's immune system is taxed right now because of pregnancy.  She is not running a temperature though...

Parasites - This ewe was on pasture late into the fall and although we worm regularly, parasites are always a consideration with sheep.  Plus, I just read on my Clun Forest Mail Group about a vet who had a ewe who had the same symptoms and turned out being heavily infested with the barber pole worm with no signs of anemia.

So this evening we decided to administer a shot of antibiotics as well as a dose of wormer (injectable ivermectin).  Neither one of these could hurt and one (or both) will likely solve the problem.  If not, we'll go back to the drawing board tomorrow morning...

I guess my motto is that it is better to be safe than sorry.  If we don't do what we can for an animal in our care who is "just not right" then I will be awake half of the night contemplating my failure and I already have enough to worry about!

Stay warm and sleep well!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's Beautiful, but it's COLD!

The last few days, temperatures have been up and down...  Tuesday morning I woke to find the thermometer reading above freezing for the first time in a while and a light rain was falling.  By the time I made it to work, the rain had turned to snow and the temperatures fell back down in the high 20s for the rest of the day.  Today has been another mixed bag and by the time evening chore time hit temps settled in the mid teens.  For some reason, I was very cold and could not get warmed up until I went to Zumba class.

The ram's broken horn appears to be healing nicely... it doesn't look like his injury has slowed him down in the least.  Some of the ewes are starting to get big... 
The Cluns eating their hay...

The Merinos are starting to show...

Pretty Cheviot Ewes...

Plenty of room at the hay feeders...

Zoey eating hay...

Handsome peacock begging for cat food...

Frozen driveway...

A cold and beautiful sky painted by the setting sun...

Winter in Michigan can be so beautiful...  Stay warm!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Broken Horn...

Last night at feeding time I found that a yearling ram had broken off one of his horns.  There was some blood around the nubbin that was left but he seemed fine and ate his dinner.  I found the horn on the ground next to the wire panel fence and I am guessing that he was rubbing on the fence, got the horn caught and broke it off.  We packed it with "Cut-Heal" wound powder and let it be.

This morning when we went out to feed, we found that the horn had bled quite a bit through the night.  He still acted fine and ate his feed, but looked a little like an escapee from the slaughter house.  We caught him and trimmed off some of the frozen and bloody wool on his face and neck, the wound had definately clotted. We gave him a shot of antibiotics "just in case"...  I am sure this was an unnecesary precaution, but I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to injuries.

I called and talked to the vet and he said that it happens all of the time and although it looks terrible, he has never seen an animal bleed to death from losing a horn.  I guess if it is going to happen, this is the perfect time of year for it - there are no bugs to get at the wound and the freezing temps will likely help keep things clean and free of mud.

I am going to spare you from looking at pictures of the bloody mess...  The ram is still fine this evening and doesn't seem any the worse for ware.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lambing Barn is Ready to go...

The big project this weekend was getting the lambing barn rearranged, cleaned, and set up to move the ewes in for shearing very soon.  We have an area in the barn that is sometimes storage and other times a lambing pen and this year it had gotten pretty cluttered and messy.
Feeders, trimming stand, horse carts, and garbage needed to be organized and moved.
On Friday I got most everything cleared and put away.  This took longer than you might think because I didn't just want to move the clutter to another area but rather put things in their place.  It is always nice to be able to find something when you want to use it later...
Friday's Progress

Saturday was busier yet.  We took down the fence that had previously separated the two pens to make one large indoor lambing area, I swept up all of the rouge hay, straw, dirt, chicken feathers, etc which was deposited over the summer, and put up the pen walls we had stored against the wall.  I also moved the hay feeders, mineral feeder, and water tank in place and things are looking good again.

All that is left is to spread some straw, fill the water tank, and move the ewes in and we'll be ready for lambs to start hitting the ground!  We are just over a month away from our first possible lambing date.  Ready... Set....

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Impromtu Lunch Date...

My sister called this morning to find out if we wanted to meet for lunch.  She and her husband have a vacation home "up north" on a lake and sometimes when they are traveling north they call us to meet them for lunch.  We always go to one of my favorite places in town - a little Mexican joint called "El Charritos".

This place has a salad that is AWESOME...   it is called a Tapopo Salad and it is a layer of homemade tortilla chips topped with refried beans and guacamole, then on top of THAT is a mix of shredded lettuce, chopped tomatos, green peas, shredded chicken, shredded cheese, and a red wine vinegar dressing - parmesan cheese is then sprinkled over the top.  Yeah, it is the salad that dreams are made of...

A small Tapopo is enough to feed an army and a large could likely feed the entire population of the Yukatan Peninsula.  All the while, they are playing authentic Mexican music over the stereo system and some of the songs I recognize from Zumba Class...  There is nothing like thinking of excercise class while you are filling your face.

One of our "Tapopo" traditions is to take a picture of the salad and send it to my other sister who lives in Chicago...  You see, she has come to love this salad as much as WE do and I know it does her heart good to know that we are enjoying that which she is geographically deprived of.
Two "SMALL" Tapopos

Eat your heart out Morty's Mom!!! (my lovely sister)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sheep Grain Recipe - Food Network WATCH OUT!

A four day weekend!  Whew-hoo!

We drove out to Imlay City this morning to pick up a load of sheep grain. 
A few bags that would not fit in the feed bin

In the world of sheep, the word "grain" can mean a few different things.  Some folks feed pelleted feeds which are essentially grains, grasses, legumes, vitamins and minerals which are ground up, processed, and cooked into pellets.  These can be fine, but they have their downsides as well... 

First, sheep are a ruminant animal which means they have a multi-chamber stomach system which is highly developed to process feed - when they are fed already processed feeds which break down quickly, the feeds can break down and ferment too quickly causing problems such as acidosis.  Second, these processed feeds are not the most environmentally friendly choice.

Our grain is a mix of locally grown grains as well as minerals and vitamins carefully formulated to fill the needs of a sheep flock in our area.  We have switched grain recipes a few times over the years and have made adjustments as we learn more about sheep nutrition.  This current recipe is pretty close to one developed by our good friends at Pitchfork Ranch in Swartz Creek, Michigan.

320# Cracked Corn
405# Oats
100# Soybean Meal
55# Molasses
50# Roasted Whole Soybeans
30# Trace Mineral Salt with Selenium
10# CCC (calcite calcium carbonate)
10# Vitamin A, D, E, & K
click on the picture for a closeup view (the soybeans look like tan colored peas)

Hay, grass, and other forage is the vast majority of our flocks diet but this locally grown grain mix has been a great way to deliver the extra vitamins, minerals, protiens, etc which are vital in sheep that we are asking to have lambs annually.  There are times during the year when we feed no grain and other times when nutritional demands of pregnant or lactating ewes dictate increased amounts.

We are constantly "tweaking" our feeding program as we learn more and I think it is important to always keep improving farm management.  I don't think we have to worry about Bobby Flay showing up any time soon for a "Sheep Grain Throw-down" but if he does, he is GOING DOWN!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In my spare time...

Winter is definately the most labor intensive time of year to have livestock in Michigan.  I am not complaining, I really enjoy the animals and the fruits of our labor, but sometimes it is hard to explain to someone who has never had an animal why they see so little of us this time of year.  So in an effort to TRY to explain myself, here is a glimpse into a typical recent weeknight.

I arrive home between 4 and 4:15PM and Wayne usually has dinner ready (I am very spoiled and he is an AWESOME cook).  After dinner, I pull on what seems like half of the clothes I own in order to keep from freezing to death in the cold and head out to feed the animals.  This time of year we feed a whole grain mix to our pregnant ewes which is specially formulated to give them all of the good stuff they need to help babies grow...  I start by feeding this grain mix to each of the groups of sheep.  They don't get much, but as you might imagine they LOVE it and are waiting for me at the gate.
Starving Merinos...

What's the holdup with the food?

Enough with the pictures already...

Bring on the FOOD!

The Cheviots are pretty sure they got shorted...

Where is the REST of our grain?

The next step is to fill the hay feeders.  A number of years ago we made a GREAT investment when we purchased a "Trail Wagon" vehicle to cart hay and grain around...  This sure beats our previous way of hauling everything around in a wheel barrow (which usually ended up tipping over or getting bogged down in the mud).  We couldn't have all of the livestock we do today if we didn't have this thing - it is a beautiful thing.
When all of the sheep feeders are full, I drive to the back of the property and fill the horses feed pans.  It is really neat how the horses work out their feeding order.  Don't try to do it in the wrong order or you'll have chaos...  We spread out the feeders all over the paddock so that there are no arguments and everyone gets their share.
While the horses are eating their grain, I climb up into the hay mow and throw down hay...
Next, it is back up to the front barn to feed the donkeys and hand feed Barney his Equine Senior Feed.  By this time, it is getting dark and Barney and his co-horts are making their pathetic cries to let me know I have made them wait MUCH too long.  If you have never had the pleasure of hearing a donkey bray, it is such a sad and mornful wail and ALWAYS brings a smile to my face...  Oh they are pathetic - I love them.

Tonight I also filled water buckets for the sheep pens.  Wayne usually has the watering done before I get home but had too much going on today so I was happy to do it.  He does the morning chores and although he doesn't have to hand feed Barney, he gets to feed the birds.

I almost forgot to mention that I had help feeding this evening - Dozer was on hand to critique me
So by the time I am finished, darkness has fallen and I have to find ways to fill my evenings so that I don't crash on the couch.  Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights I go to ZUMBA and on Tuesday nights we have been walking up at the indoor track in town. 

Sometimes I wonder what "regular" people do in their spare time...   Now you know what I do with mine.