I have joked with several people this summer that someone needs to turn off the force field around our city. There has been rain both 10 miles north and 10 miles south of us, often simultaneously, but we have missed the rain. Finally the last couple days we have started getting some rain. The grass is starting to green up, to the point where the pastures that are on an off rotation are starting to show growth.
My current plan for rotating the cows and sheep has been a week plus on a section, and then rotate them. I have four sections, as it is set up now, so each section would have about a month to rest. After having listened to Joel Salatin I might try to move them more often to smaller sections, which should result in longer rest time for each section. I think my hesitance in doing that is my current lack of time, so less moving is less work for me. Joel’s experience was that the more you move them, the better the pasture becomes, so you actually make more money by moving them more often, to the tune of $100 an hour for moving them. The sheep seem to be ignoring the temporary fence at this point. I don’t know if they have enough wool to insulate them from the fence, or if it’s something else. It doesn’t matter much as they don’t eat much in comparison to Oreo. If I had only cows, it would be much easier as I could do it with one electric strand much higher than I am trying to do now with the sheep involved.
Which leads me to my newest pondering. Shetland sheep were my introduction to livestock. They were a perfect first animal. They are small and relatively easy to handle, aren’t prone to escaping, are easy birthers, and are good mothers. We have gone from one sheep to now having twelve sheep in the course of about three years. I am thinking that I might sell all but a couple sheep and concentrate on some mini breed cows and heritage pigs. At the fair there was an exhibitor who has Mini Jersey milking cows. Their farm is currently milking their cows once a day and feeding a quart of grain a day. From that one milking they get 1.5-2 gallons. That sounds like a much more manageable amount of milk than even 3-4 gallons a day. There are a couple ways I could do this, but most involve selling Oreo and getting a full sized Jersey cow and artificially inseminating her with a Mini Jersey bull. I need to sit on this for a bit before moving forward with it though.
With regards to heritage pigs, for a long time I have been looking at the American Guinea Hog so I was excited that there was going to be a presentation on them at the Fair, as well as a booth. I spoke with one of the women at the Guinea Hog booth at length, and everything she had to say just reinforced my desire to have some. They are what I consider to be the perfect Homestead Hog, at least for me. They are a smaller pig, so easier to handle and easier for youth to handle. They are known for the docility and being good mothers. They are a lard hog, so rendering lard for cooking will be possible. Lastly, their meat is held in high regard, alongside that of the Mangalitsa (my other preferred breed).
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