Img 9735

I’ve got some big news

When it was real hot and dry, dad used to say “it’s drier than a popcorn fart”, well I don’t know if I can ever gauge the dry stage of a fart, but we sure were around our area. Jeepers, it was getting bad. I got exactly half of the hay of what I normally get on my first cutting. And my pastures, well, they were eaten down in May, with little to no regrowth. Let’s be honest here,

I was getting a little nervous. Especially when I was looking at expensive corn.
So dry farts and pastures aside, I made a big move that required me to put my big girl pants on and my emotions in the back pocket of those pants-I had to make a decision. Yep, I had to sell my flock. The flock that I’ve worked on for give or take ten years. The flock that I’ve hand picked ewes for each year and literally made it a celebration when I would get to pick out my ram off the Giese farm because he raises the best. Also, the flock that I could walk out and pet about 75% of them. Not to be drama llama about it, but I was really sad at first.

I remember the morning that it all went down. Even though they had a hay bale to munch on, and they’d get a little grain each day, the temptation of green grass, even though sparse, called them out of the fence each night. Fuschia, Grace’s big Polypay, was the ring leader and would literally test the fence. Like she made it her job every day. I’d watch her. When she found a spot they could crawl under or jump over, they’d do it. Usually after their nightly grain, when it was a little cooler. They’d eat on the lawn, the hay meadow or sadly; one night, Ron’s garden.

That morning, Ron called me madder than a wet hen. “Your sheep got out and ate all my carrots, beans, beet tops and peas! You better figure out that fence!” Okay, you know it wasn’t that nicely worded, but I understood, he’s worked hard on that.

Those dang ewes…they’ve got a lot of other places to eat! In the mornings before this, when I’d open the gate so they could go back in the pen for some water and recover from their night of gallivanting, I’d talk to them and tell them that they could have it so good if they stayed in the designated eating spots, like the hay field or the lawn. But not that morning, apparently veggie tops taste just a little bit better.

I was on my way to Clear Lake when he called. I chewed on the idea for about five minutes then called my sidekick, and daughter Rachel. “I think we better sell the sheep, what do you think?” She approved the idea; she had heard her dad’s rant first hand. We presented to the other kids, got their approval since they own some too, and came up with a plan, then went to Ron.

“Okay, we’ll sell the flock. But, so we stay in the sheep biz, we’re going to buy 50-100 bottle lambs in January. We’ll be selling half at wean weight and the rest as fats.” He thought that was a good idea and I called around to see if anyone would want to buy the flock. The kid’s condition was we couldn’t sell for kill. I agreed. I had two that needed to go that route, but all the rest went to a buyer that sold them to a huge flock by Lake Benton. We got a great price for them. The sheep market is excellent right now.

But as much as I was sad to see them go, I went straight to the bank, paid off my sheep loan, then to Canby Grain and took care of my feed bill and had some extra. And that felt good.
 
Until next time,
Fairchild “I don’t miss sheep poop on the porch” Farmgirl


Suzanne Fairchild is a freelance writer who lives on a farm in southwest Minnesota with her husband and children. She can be reached at rmf@itctel.com.