From Swallow Rail Farm
Our routine is changing a bit because I am back to teaching part-time at University of Louisville. Sadly, this means I am no longer at Courtney Farms in the morning to help put the fruit CSA shares together; I do miss the conviviality of the barn. It did feel good to be back on campus, however, as the students greeted me eagerly. I have a unique opportunity to share the realities of the farm in the course that I teach called Food and Body Politic, so we can continue our work.
Speaking of which, the work continues at home: irrigation has begun as the drought settles in (hoping for rain out of Hurricane Isaac) still picking figs, drying apples, making jam and pickles In fact we reached another milestone in our shepherd management: we sorted our ram lambs away from their sisters. At about 5 months the lambs reach sexual maturity and we don’t need any premature accidents! We were able to entice them out of their temporary pasture with a trough of food, we only allowed the rams through the opening, and then they followed our buckets back to the nut grove pasture. All are secure in three separate pastures for now.and tending to the flock, both 4-legged and 2-legged.
We also were able to weigh and dose copper sulfate for parasite control last weekend. My mentor and friend Eileen O’Donahue brought her livestock scale so we could properly does each lamb. Copper sulfate is a natural and very effective wormer BUT it can kill your sheep because they are susceptible to copper toxicity. Everyone is still standing and has pink noses so we did good; anything less than pink indicates anemia and high parasite loads so we monitor for good color in eye membrane, noses, etc.through a practice called FAMACHA.
And, the new deluxe brooder is complete in the barn. 75 Red Ranger chicks arrived in the mail late last week and they are running around enjoying their large accommodations. These meat chickens should be less labor intensive then the Cornish x broilers and they will range freely in the nut grove once the brooder stage is over. In the pasture with electro-netting around them, Baxter the Maremma guardian dog around that and woven wire fencing around that should keep them secure! We will have more whole chickens available in November from this batch of Red Rangers.