2/22/2015 1 Comment
1. Are you coming home tonight?
This is asked frequently during planting, harvest, spraying, calving or any other “season” that requires frequent late night, or all night, hours. It’s not necessarily asking if he is coming home at all, but more if he will be home while anyone else is still up.
2. Did you come home last night?
It’s not unheard of for a farm wife to wake up in the morning and have to look for signs that her farmer actually came home last night and left again before anyone else was up. The most telltale signs will be the pile of dirty clothes on his side of the bed and the empty plate from the dinner he warmed up when he got home.
3. So…will that be 10 minutes or 2 hours?
When you ask a farmer about what time something might occur, it’s nearly always given back as an order of events. Such as, “I have to hay the cows up north, check the water tanks, drop this truck by the shop and then I’ll be home.” These answers nearly always require the person asking to get further clarification. And by clarification I mean narrowing it down to a time frame of a few minutes or a few hours.
Farmers work in time slots similar to that of the cable guy – “I’ll be home for dinner sometime between 6pm and midnight.”
4. Did you get them all bred?
Of course this would refer to our livestock and the time of year that they are being bred or being checked for pregnancy. It’s obviously vital to a livestock operation for the animals to reproduce -- so conversations around breeding, semen quality, and pregnancy and delivering of babies take up a good percentage of our time.
I worry about having these conversations in public places – for fear someone may overhear our conversations and consider turning us into the FBI.
5. Is it going to rain?
Many people probably find themselves looking at their smart phones or watching the morning news for the weather forecast. Anyone married to a farmer doesn't need those things - -they just ask their farmer.
He will know what all the different weather outlets are reporting for temperatures and rain chances and have an opinion of his own (that’s probably better than the local weather forecaster anyways)!
Flat Aggie made a trip from Kansas to Brookfield, MO to spend some time with us here at Uptown Farms! The day he was here was cold and wet, so it wasn't a great day to be outside. And you can see from the picture below, the sheep agreed!
This is one of the many pastures that our sheep have access to all year. On days like this one however, the sheep prefer to be in their barns. All of our sheep always have access to barns as well!
*PASTURE: Fenced grass areas used for grazing livestock.
Once we were closer to the barns, we did catch a few ewes and their lambs outside. They quickly ran into the barn when they saw us coming- they probably assumed they were getting something to eat!
*EWE: A female sheep
*LAMB: A baby sheep, under the age of 1
The barn we spent the most time in was our lambing barn. This is where most of the fun takes place this time of year. "Lambing" is the process of the ewe having a baby and also generally refers to the time of year when ewes are having their lambs.
At Uptown Farms we lamb from January - March each year. During the winter months, because grass is not available, we feed hay and grain to our sheep. Flat Aggie is pictured below by our big alfalfa bales. The big bales of hay you see below weigh around 850 pounds!!
*Alfalfa: A type of hay that provides nutrients to livestock
Inside the lambing barn are three main areas. One is an area we call a "drop pen". This is where all of the mammas (ewes) that are pregnant hang out until they lamb.
Even when we know they are close, we do not pull them away from the flock. This would make them nervous and might actually cause them to delay lambing. Instead, we check them frequently by going into the barns or using our wireless cameras-- we can look into our barn from anywhere in the world by just looking on our cell phones!!
Below the ewes are lined up in the drop pen, eating their dinner (alfalfa!).
*Flock: A group of sheep
Once the ewe has her lambs (we always hope for twins and sometimes even get triplets), she is moved into a lambing jug. A jug is a small pen where just the mamma and her lambs will be.
They will spend a few days inside these pens to make sure they bond. Mamma and babies will tell each apart by smell, so having a few days alone together helps them to remember each other better!
In the corner of each lambing jug is an area separated off by a piece of wood. The lamb can easily get into this area that has a fresh piece of carpet for each new baby and a lower hanging lamp. The lamp provides a little added warmth for the first few days. Sometimes it can be really cold lambing in January or February!
After spending a few days in a lambing jug, the lambs get "processed". This means they get their vaccinations and an ear tag to identify who they are. Each lamb gets his own unique number. The lamb above is a ram lamb -- or a boy! Girl lambs are called ewe lambs.
*Ram Lamb: A boy lamb
*Ewe Lamb: A girl lamb
After being processed, the mamma and her babies are turned out into a larger pen with other lambs of similar ages. They will spend the next few months with these groups of lambs before being weaned from their mothers.
*Weaning: The time period when baby animals are old enough to be removed from their mothers
For more information on the Flat Aggie project, or to see Flat Aggie's other travels, please visit :
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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