This year, as every year, many containers and boxes were planted with beautiful bedding plants that have now begun to flourish. We have had an inordinate amount of rain so far this season and while it is good for the grass and garden, it has put me terribly behind with the pen cleaning and larger chores. The sheep pen is the only one that is finished and that is where my garden is this year. The rams busted in and ate all the beans and lots of the peas and trampled some seedlings. The chickens seem to find a way in and scratch up the seeds. I even have gone to great lengths to keep those darn birds out, but they fly on the fence and they descend and eat.
The grain supply I had is not viable at this time. I am scrambling once again to try to find some grain that is not sprayed. The rabbits are going to be dispatched soon, leaving only three, two does and a buck. I really do not need 16 rabbits. So the amount of grain required will be greatly less. I don't know what else the birds could eat to thrive. They love meat. I have been toying with the idea of feeding them meat and fat and no grain. Even the ducks eat meat and fat, especially the Muscovies. Grass is consumed by all of them as well as tons of flies and bugs. They could likely survive the summer without grain, especially if I gave them meat. But I have to get the trailer hitch put on the Touareg first and that is scheduled for Tuesday. After that, I can hitch up the trailer that I used with the smart car and get some meat, plus haul away the trash.
Sales have been just OK this year. Goats are usually the number one, but the lambs are keeping up. The ram lambs will be butchered for my own use. I barbequed lamb chops and a small roast this morning. Oh my goodness those chops were delicious! I think the young buckling goats will also be sent to the abattoir this fall if they are not sold. I just love curried goat in the winter. It is heart warming and body warming and yummy! I only sold 2 butchered lambs this year, so I wonder if it is even worth my effort to try again. This area is not comprised of people who would eat lamb or even try it. Sad. The steer will also be butchered in the fall and the meat shared with my sons and daughter. If these crazy hens who are all sitting on nests, about 9 or them currently, raise their chicks, there will be lots of chicken to keep me going all winter too. I bought a pressure canner and want to learn to can meat. I always worry that if the power was off for a long time, the freezer meat would be lost, though that would not be the case in the winter when it is colder outside than in the freezer!
The new Guernsey cow is a delight! I have her in a tiny pen for a few weeks to tame her and for her to be comfortable with me. After that she can go to pasture with the sheep, but I don't think I will put her with the other cows or I will lose that training I am doing currently.
So, some animals have gone, some more will leave, and a few have arrived. It is the way on the farm. My aim this year was to decrease the numbers of sheep and goats, as well as all other animals to half. I may have to revise that since only the Jacobs and Shetlands have sold as a group. The Icelandics and Romanovs have been offered for sale and some interest has been shown, but there are no takers. If need be, I will divide them and sell them individually. Taking my sheep to market is not a wise idea. Markets look for conformity, uniformity and want what they know and are familiar with. Rare breeds do not do well there and that is not the place to even begin to sell them.
I think toward fall there will be greater interest in rams and bucks as people scramble to find breeders. At least that has been the pattern in the past. Lots do not seem to want to keep a male in the summer. Since I have lots of males, it is fine with me, as long as I do not have to keep them over the winter. For that, it does not pay.
I am not sure how many more years I will be here. My daughter returns from Australia in December with her degree in midwifery and will be living in Surrey, BC, near Vancouver with her husband (partner). She is planning to have children, so I could end up living close to them, who knows. I do want to keep a few sheep, goats and chickens though, wherever the plan leads me. Do come and visit the farm if you can so you too, can feel its beauty. You are always welcome.