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Thursday, September 07 2017

If this dog had thumbs I wouldn't even need to come outside in the morning. The chores would get done without me. She knows the routine and can pretty much do everything herself. She just needs you to shovel out the feed for the livestock, and open and close the gates.

Like a bee to morning glories, chores on the farm begin as soon as the sun rises.

     The first order of business, after pouring coffee, is to get the Nubian bucks out to pasture. They are pretty docile, but stinky so I don't like touching them. There is nothing like fresh buck urine on your arm to ruin the taste of coffee. The bucks are moved from their night pen behind the barn to a 150 acre pasture (of which they only utilize probably 3 acres, but it's there if they want it)  The trick to getting the bucks out without incident is to pour the feed into their bucket in the pasture first, then go get the bucks. Mesa then merely guides them to the pasture when they choose to stray from the intended route. This is 90% of the time during breeding season because instead of eating, they want to loop around and go see the girls.

Do not attempt to move the bucks without a Border Collie. It looks easy when the dog does it. It's a freaking trainwreck without the dog.

     The next order of business is to put the rams up for the day.

      The rams freely roam the barnyard pasture at night while the ewes are locked in pens behind the barn. In the morning they must be moved into a separate pen in the barn before the ewes can be turned out to pasture.  Because of their differing temperaments, moving the rams is a delicate dance. Mesa must put just enough pressure on Wilson, the yearling ram, to stir him out of his comfort zone, so he moseys toward breakfast, but not so much pressure on Chance, the weanling ram, that he freaks because he has a wider flight zone. Wilson doesn't get in a hurry to do much, so Mesa must gently annoy him to the point where he leaves the fence by the ewes and follows me to his day pen. Put too much pressure on Wilson and he will ram a dog with those horns. Mesa has figured this out, so instead of wading in (like Lily!) and causing a fight, she just flits around him like a butterfly, darting at his face and his heels to steer him. As Mesa does this, Chance zigzags back and forth wishing that Wilson would just come on so the dog would leave them alone.

     With the rams secure, Mesa then sorts the Angora goats from the Nubian goats.

The angoras eat with the rams because they don't need the high-octane diet the dairy goats eat. With the goats sorted, they are then fed, and the ewes are moved out to pasture.

After the goats finish eating, they will be pushed out to join the sheep.

Mesa goes through this routine every day, 7 days a week. In the evening, she does the same thing in reverse. Sometimes Lily helps, but her penchant for putting holes in anyone who doesn't immediately tow the line is annoying and unfair enough for me to keep her by my side and let Mesa do the job herself. Lily and I just supervise.

    Wyatt often bounces along beside Mesa. He's getting pretty good at putting the Nubian bucks out. He trots behind them and peels off himself when they arrive at their destination. I don't use him on the rams though because his bouncing would freak Chance out, and if he got too pushy, Wilson might slam him and damage his little psyche. It wouldn't be fair to Wyatt or Wilson. When he's older and more confident, then Wyatt can move the rams.

For now, he'll keep right on helping Mesa with her other chores, watching and learning. If I could ever figure out a way to have them sling feed and open gates, by next year I'd be able to just send Mesa and Wyatt outside while Lily and I eat bacon and eggs and sip coffee at the kitchen table.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:28 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Wow, much more complicated dance than I imagined. You have great dance partners. Love the stories and hearing each animals temperament and role.
Posted by Sharon on 09/09/2017 - 09:48 AM

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