Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 in Review--the animals

It's the end of December, time for all those "Year in Pictures" and "Ten Best" things that fill in what should be a quiet time in the news.  It's also a convenient time for looking backwards at the year that was, and forwards to what we want to do.  So, hailing the spirit of Janus, I'm going to look backwards and forwards for a bit...

This was the year that it really sunk in that I'm in the business of keeping livestock.  Leaving 2012, we had a handful of does and ewes, not a whole lot of housing, and no rams.  There were a handful of pregnant sheep, but they had to drive an hour to meet the daddy.  A year later, we've got a lot more does and ewes, not to mention bucks and rams, both by purchase and "natural increase."   We have had our first births, our first selection (followed by our first trip to the livestock auction), and our first death.  We've had our first experiences with disbudding and castration.   We've also seen a couple of our animals go to new homes, where they'll hopefully be productive, and sold some product from some of our goats.

Of course, some things are constant.  There's always the chooks.

It's always useful to consider the data, so here it is.  "Bucks" and "Rams" are animals born male; they may not have finished the year with all their original equipment.  Click on the graph to enlarge:

It's pretty easy to see the arrival of the rams in February.  The next big blip is lambing, in May and June; we did well, with each ewe having two lambs, for seven ewe lambs to five ram.  We've kept one ram lamb intact, but he's probably going to get wethered. The remaining rams (now wethers) are destined for various meat lockers.  The ewe lambs are all out in the field getting fat and fuzzy. 

We had two rounds of kidding--one in August, and another in October.  We didn't do as well there--all the does had two kids, but from five births we only got four doe kids. Two left for Wisconsin in November, where they are getting a ridiculous amount of attention from our niece and nephews.  We euthanized another in December, a sad story that bears telling at another time.  So, we have come out of the year with one new home-bred doeling; all the other increase has been through purchases. One of this year's bucklings is a keeper; that leaves five wethers that will hopefully go to market, somehow. 

The big dip in the ewes in late August was the trip to auction, after we decided that not all our ewes were worth breeding.  One wethered buck also made the trip.  I was sorry to see them go, as a couple had nice personalities, but such is life on the farm.  Their numbers were largely made up for by the arrival of a group of ewes from a farm in Colorado.  

The Colorado ewes were accompanied by Eleanor, an Akbash guardian dog.  She joined Sophia Bumblebutt, the miniature Australian Shepherd.  Wedge and Spot, the kittens, have already been introduced.

Janus compels me to look forward as well as back, and there are some pretty solid predictions that I can make.  Those five goat wethers have got to go.  The sheep wethers will find homes on various dinner plates, as may any lambs that don't make the cut for conformation or wool quality.  Sixteen of our ewes were bred on November 7th, so there should be a deluge of lambs in the first week of April.  We'll be hosting a goat artificial insemination clinic in February, so that implies a deluge of kids in late July.   We have a couple of reservations for goat kids, but those are kind of open at this date.  There are also all the known unknowns--predation, illness, stillbirths, fatal problems with kidding or lambing, just suddenly up and dying--that are part of the package with farm life.  And, there are always the chooks.

The Real Doctor reminds me that I missed some data on the graph; the number of humans has remained constant at two. 

No comments:

Post a Comment