Calling the Lambs

Calling the Lambs

It is always easier to have animals that will come to you when you call them. Have you ever seen a neighbor chasing their dog? I have. Well, trying to catch sheep is even tougher than trying to catch a dog. Dogs and sheep are both trainable though. This video is what it looks like once you have your sheep trained to come when they see you.

Last week, these same lambs completely ignored me – or worse – ran away when I approached them. That would make giving them their annual boosters nearly impossible, let alone try loading them on the trailer.

Calling the lambs
Andy, the Ram

After a few more days of this, the lambs will be waiting for me at the trough just like Andy does. Sheep love routines and by feeding them at the same time each day, I have established a routine for them. At the same time, I have trained them to associate me with food and they will come whenever they see me.

Here’s anoher lamb video – although this one isn’t one of mine.

Here are some other posts about the sheep at Ten Mile Farm

Anything About Katahdin Sheep 

This is the category to use if you have questions that have Anything about Katahdin Sheep. What to buy one? Sell one? Cook one? This is the place. Recipes, where to buy, how to raise, whatever. If it is anything about Katahdin Sheep, post it here.

Fun on the Farm 

Fun on the Farm There are so many things to do that are fun on the farm. The kids love to play on the giant hay rolls. Sometimes they climb on them to play king of the hill, other times to get a different view of the world. I asked my daughter …

Katahdin Sheep 

Katahdin Sheep We raise Katahdin sheep aka hair sheep. Unlike other breeds of sheep, Katahdin’s do not require shearing. They grow hair similar to deer. In the winter their coat is heavy and in the summer they shed off a layer or two.

Lamb Update 

Lamb Update I took a break from prepping the garden yesterday to take some pictures of the Lambs. They have adapted quite well to being away from their mothers. I tried to get a picture of the Ram with all of his offspring, but they were a bit scattered. Here’s what …

Meat Quality of a Pasture Raised Sheep 

Meat Quality The meat quality of pasture-raised animals is far superior to that of confined animals. The decision to eat meat is personal. Although in an era where public reaction to animal cruelty is one of the main highlights, many decide not to go the carnivore way and are good with …

Mittleider Garden Preparation

Mittleider Garden Preparation Day Week

 

It is a beautiful day and the weather is perfect for setting up the raised beds in preparation for planting next week. Today I will be laying out the garden and building the grown boxes. Tomorrow I will add the growing medium –  a combination of sand and sawdust – along with the pre-plant and weekly feed fertilizers.

Mittleider Garden Preparation
Grow Box Matterials

There will be three beds laid out in accordance with the Mittleider gardening method. That is 30 feet long and 18 inches wide. Two of the beds will have supports for growing vertically. The third bed will be used to grow bell peppers and other plants that don’t need vertical support.

The first steps in Mittleider garden preparation were taken care of earlier this year. You can see that post via the link at the bottom of this page. The first step in today’s work was to get some supplies. I went to Lowes and picked up the wood for the basic boxes. I already had the 4×4’s for the supports on hand. I also picked up the rest of the materials I need to make the watering system. I’ll write about that in another post.

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Before I actually construct the grow boxes I need to prepare the ground where it will go. It is very important that the ground be level inside and outside the bottom of the grow box. That’s why I went through the trouble and expense of using the Kubota.

Mittleider Garden Preparation
Garden Stakes

The second step is to stake out the corners of the overall garden and then establish the location of the corners of the grow-boxes with cords and stakes. For my garden, the overall dimensions are 20 feet by 40 feet. This will give me a five-foot aisle at each end and three and one-half feet between each grow-box.

Mittleider Garden Preparation
30 ‘ Grow Box

Each box is thirty feet long and 18 inches wide. You can see the first one is complete in this picture. That’s as far as I got today – hence the change to the title of this post. It’s supposed to rain for a couple of days so I’ll work on this as I can.

These were my supervisors

Mittleider Garden Preparation
Supervisory Team

The next two boxes were a little trickier to build because I needed to install the 4×4 T-posts. To do this, I laid out the boxes and then dug the holes for the 4×4’s. Then I assembled the T-posts, double checked to make sure the T-posts were level and plumb, and then screwed them into the 2×8’s. The inside of these boxes are prepped identically to the first one; level the ground and fertilize with pre-plant mixture.

Building the T-posts is not really difficult, but it is time-consuming. Digging the 15-inch deep holes in Arkansas rocky soil is a lot more work. I rented a one-man post hole digger from Home Depot and got the job done in 4 hrs. Here’s what the finished boxes with T-posts installed look like.

Building the grow boxes with the T-posts is definitely a two person job. It is possible to do it alone – I did these by myself. However, it would be a lot faster and less frustrating if you have a helper.

The next step for these boxes is to put pre-plant fertilizer in the bottom. The pre-plant fertilizer is a mix of Lime, Epsom Salts, and Borax in specific ratios. I mixed up a large batch using 20 pounds of Lime, 1 pound of Epsom Salts, and 1/4 pound of Borax. This mixture is applied one ounce per linear foot.

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer. Once the pre-plant is in I will fill the boxes with the custom soil mixture recommended by the Mittleider Gardening Method. This is 1/3 course sand 2/3 sawdust. You fill the box alternating between the sand and the sawdust and then till it all together with a light-weight tiller like the Mantis, or by hand using a shovel and rake.

I got my sand from a local sand and gravel company. The sawdust I got free from a company that builds pallets. For three beds, I needed one cubic yard of course sand and three cubic yards of sawdust. Sand and sawdust make the perfect growing medium for most plants. It provides all five functions necessary for healthy plant growth:

  • Anchor the plants – provide a firm foundation for growth and development
  • Retain and release moisture
  • Retain and release oxygen
  • Retain and release nutrients
  • Help control temperature – keep plants cool in the summer and warm in the winter

What sand and sawdust lack is nutrition and we provide that with the weekly feed. Before we transplant the seedlings we will apply the weekly feed fertilizer at a rate of 1/2 ounce per linear foot. The weekly feed recipe is:

  • 25 pounds of All Purpose Fertilizer (13-13-13 up to 17-17-17)
  • 4 pounds Epsom Salts
  • One (10 ounce) packet of Mittleider Micronutrients (click to order online)
  • 3 pounds garden lime/gypsum or 1/2 pound of Perlite to control moisture

Once this is mixed into the soil, it is time to level the soil inside the boxes. Now these boxes are “beds” and ready for planting. However, before we do that we need to construct the watering system to ensure even watering directly to the roots of each plant. I’ll build the watering system later this week and post an update worth pictures and instructions. Until then, have a great day and thanks for stopping by the Ten Mile Farm and Market.

 

Other posts about Mittleider Gardening

Mittleider Gardening The Mittleider Gardening method is quite simply the most productive way to grow fruits and vegetables that I know of. I’ve tried dozens of other methods and none of them have produced the yields of healthy fruits and vegetables that the Mittleider method produces. Follow along as I setup a …

Mittleider Gardening Method If you have questions or comments about the Mittleider Gardening Method, this is the category to post them.  Mittleider gardening is, in my opinion, the most efficient way to grow fruits and vegetables. Regardless of your climate, soil condition or season, you can grow fruits and vegetables to …

Lamb Update

Lamb Update

I took a break from prepping the garden yesterday to take some pictures of the Lambs. They have adapted quite well to being away from their mothers. I tried to get a picture of the Ram with all of his offspring, but they were a bit scattered. Here’s what I got.

Katahdin LambHe really doesn’t seem to mind having all the company of the lambs in his pasture. These lambs will spend the next three weeks with Andy (that’s the Ram’s name) and then I’ll separate the boys from the girls and move the girls to another pasture.

Katahdin Lamb
Andy – the Ram

The lambs are a lot of fun to watch. They are very playful, not unlike children. Yesterday they were playing king of the hill on one of the old hay bales.

Before they started climbing on the hay bale, the lambs were happily grazing the pasture. The 13 lambs will keep this field nice and short and they will fertilize it at the same time.

These lambs are growing like crazy. That is the result of good genetics and plenty of fresh green grass. In fact, these lambs have so much green grass I have not been able to get them to come to me for cracked corn yet. The Ram runs to me when he sees me because he’s already been conditioned to at least get rubbed behind his ears – something he really enjoys. I need to get these lambs hooked on the cracked corn so they will be easier to manage.

Sheep don’t need a lot of immunizations, but they do require one. Covexin 8 protects sheep from eight clostridial diseases. It is administered twice initially and then annually. No big deal to give if the sheep come to you, not so easy if you have to round them up. So, I have a week to get the little ones more comfortable around me. Guess I need to spend some time in the fields.

I’ll sit out in a lawn chair with my  kindle and get caught up on some reading 🙂

Other posts about Lamb and Sheep

Katahdin Sheep 

Katahdin Sheep We raise Katahdin sheep aka hair sheep. Unlike other breeds of sheep, Katahdins do not require shearing. They grow hair similar to deer. In the winter their coat is heavy and in the summer they shed off a layer or two…

Meat Quality of a Pasture Raised Sheep 

Meat Quality The meat quality of pasture-raised animals is far superior to that of confined animals. The decision to eat meat is personal. Although in an era where public reaction to animal cruelty is one of the main highlights, many decide not to go the carnivore way and are good with …

Pasture Raised Lamb 

Pasture Raised Lamb Imagine being confined in a small, malodorous and dank space with room just enough to stretch your legs. You feel hungry, but there is no sign of food. Then suddenly the door opens and in comes a person carrying buckets of something. He comes forward and tips over …

Pictures of Katahdin Sheep 

Pictures of Katahdin Sheep   We’ve been raising sheep at the Ten Mile Farm and Market since 2007. We started out flock with one Ram and Nine Ewes. The Ram was quite the stud and it took only one year to triple the number from ten to thirty with every girl delivering …

 

How to get rid of black flies

How to get rid of black flies

As wonderful as Spring is, it brings with it a couple of annoyances; pollen and black flies. There really isn’t much we can do about pollen. It is a necessary evil. No pollen, no fruit. Black flies, on the other hand serve no discernible purpose. The question is how to get rid of black flies without creating a toxic environment for other creatures we adore? I have found three effective ways to trap and kill black flies without the use of toxic chemicals.

How to get rid of black flies
Black Fly

First, you need a fly trap. Now if you have ever tried those annoying fly tapes that stick to everything but flies…well that is not an effective trap. An effective trap is one that will catch mostly flies, not bother you, won’t harm your pets or kids, and is easy to set and forget.

how to get rid of black flies
StarBar Captivator

You can make your own trap using 2 liter soda bottles and bait or you can purchase a ready made reusable trap like the Starbar Captivator. I have used both methods and as long as you have a good bait, both work really well. I currently use the Starbar because it looks nicer than a soda bottle full of dead flies and it is easy to clean and reuse.

How to get rid of black flies
Soda Bottle Trap

To use a soda bottle simply cut the bottle in half about 3/4 of the way up from the bottom. Put the bait in the bottom half and insert the top with the cap off inverted into the bottom. If you are using a good bait, the flies will come to the bottle, climb in and become trapped. A 2 liter soda bottle can hold hundreds of flies. Eventually you will want to discard this and make a new one.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to make a soda bottle trap – they can be very effective.

How to get rid of black flies
Fly Bait

For bait you can use a piece of rotting potato with a dash of vinegar. The vinegar will keep bees and other beneficial insects from entering the trap. You can also use old table scraps of meat and veggies, dog poop, or even a bit of yeast mixed in sugar water. These all work pretty well. I’ve found that the best bait for collecting the most flies in the least amount of time is Farnam Home and Garden Fly Trap Attractant. This stuff costs about $12 for a bottle and the bottle will last you all summer. Combined with the Starbar Captivator, this is the most effective method I have found to get rid of black flies. The Farnam Home and Garden Fly Trap Attractant works so well because it contains pheromones that attract flies and it doesn’t stink. The flies smell it but we don’t. I have three of these traps set up and even though I live on a farm, there are practically no flies bothering me.

Now you know how to get rid of black flies without killing friendly insects, the hassle of poisons, or the smell of stink baits. If you are handy you can make great traps yourself. However, I do recommend Starbar Captivator if want a hassle free easy to clean trap. I also recommend the Farnam Home and Garden Fly Trap Attractant in any trap.

I got both of these at Amazon.com for about $12 each. You might be able to find them locally at a hardware store or lawn and garden center. I have not seen these at Lowe’s or Home Depot and I can tell you from experience that the traps they sell simply do not work as well.

Life Changing Food Documentaries

Life-Changing Food Documentaries

I was reflecting on some of the things I’ve experienced in my life that made me want to raise, grow, and produce my own food. One of those things has been the impact of a few life changing food documentaries.

I will caution you that watching some of these films can be disturbing. Disturbing in the sense that the knowledge they may impart to you will likely make you uncomfortable with the food choices you are currently making. I share these because I think it is important that we all understand the links between what we eat and how fulfilling our lives are. The food we eat can literally make the difference between a happy healthy productive life and a life of illness, misery, and often one that is cut short.

If you want to stay in the dark about what you are eating and how it is affecting your life go here. If, on the other hand, you are interested in change…well these films are not only entertaining, they are also full of motivation that may get you to look at food with clear vision.

Many of these films you can watch free on Amazon Prime. I’m sure they are available at your local library too. I have provided links to places you can purchase them also. These are not presented in any particular order, just the order they came to mind as I write this post.

food documentaries
King Corn

The first film to come to mind is the first food documentary I recall watching. It is called King Corn. King Corn is an entertaining film that delivers a lot of information. The film follows two friends as they plant, harvest, and sell an acre of corn. Some of the topics covered include the impact of conventional agriculture, the disappearance of family farms, the many uses of corn and corn byproducts, and the impact of subsidies on the economy of farming. This film is a great starting point for people just learning about the current state of the food system.

Food Documentaries
Food Inc.

Another good documentary is Food Inc. is a great follow-on to king Corn because the world’s food chain is built mainly on heavily subsidized and, therefore, cheap corn. In fact, as you will learn in King Corn, almost everyone is consuming corn all day long from bread over meat (all animals are fed with corn) to deserts and drinks. This film highlights the disastrous effects of intensive factory farming on animals, as well as the health and environmental risks they pose to consumers of their products.

Food Documentaries
Food Matters

Food Matters was one of the most informative documentaries that I have ever watched. Everything I saw shocked me in a good way and sparked a change in my lifestyle. Everyone who has health issues should watch this, and get educated about nutrition. It makes a big difference. Simple dietary changes can have a profound impact in your life and wellbeing. Take a look for yourself.

Food Documentaries
Hungry for Change

Hungry for Change is another good one to watch. By now you have the idea of what is wrong with our current system of food production and distribution. This documentary delves into the science behind making food irresistable. That famous Lay’s potato chip slogan “You can’t only eat one” is applied to foods across the board from boneless chicken wings to chocolate chip cookies. Scientist and food researchers spend millions designing foods that you can’t resist. As a good friend of mine likes to say “One is too many, and one thousand is not enough.”

Food Documentaries
Ingrediants

Ingrediants is the last one I’ll comment on here. This film is more positive, as it focuses on the solutions to the above identified problems. Watch this one to feel better and learn how you can make better food purchasing decisions.

 

 

If you still have time to watch a few here are some old favorites

Watch most of these free on Amazon.com if you have a Prime membership. No Prime? No worries, Click here to Start Your 30-Day Free Trial Now!

 

Muscovy Ducks Grazing

Muscovy Ducks Grazing

Just a quick update on the ducks. They seem to have discovered that the grass is indeed greener on the other side of the fence. In this video they are grazing in the front yard while one of our adopted stray dogs watches.

The front yard is not the safest place for these muscovy ducks grazing. Although we live in the country there are occasionally dogs roaming around. fortunately our adopted stray “Snowy” is not interested in the ducks and will keep any other creatures – including people – from being a danger.

I kind of like having the ducks in the front yard when I come home from an errand. I do get concerned when they are waddling across the street, but so far we’ve been lucky enough not to lose any. The only other negative about them being in the front yard is that they really like to sit up on the porch. Ducks have no sphincter control. Needless to say, we have to hose off the front porch often,

Muscovy Ducks grazing
Begging for food

Muscovy ducks graze gently unlike chickens. The ducks are less destructive to the ground the graze. You’ll notice in the video that they just seem to scoop their bill low and grab what they want with their tongue. There is very little disruption to the ground itself.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, they have no sphincter control. So, they fertilize as they dine one grass. Their exhaust, for lack of a polite term, is pretty much liquid and dissipates into the lawn quickly. Because of that, there is no concern about yucking up shoes or bare feet.

One of the best things about having the ducks around, beside their fun personality, is the fact that they also eat mosquitos, slugs, and flies. And I can tell you, anything that eats flies and mosquitos is welcome at our farm!

Here is another other posts about the ducks in case you’re interested.

Muscovy Ducks 

Muscovy Ducks About 4 years ago, I decided I wanted some muscovy ducks on the farm. Although we always had the pond, wild ducks never stayed around very long. So, I found a guy selling Muscovy Ducks and I bought ten. One male and 9 female ducks have been grazing the …

 

Weening the Lambs

Weening the Lambs

Yesterday, after a morning of family paintball, we came home to the farm to the chore of weening the lambs. Weening is the process of removing the young lambs from their mothers and is a necessary evil both for the health of the ewes and the development of the lambs.

Weaning is a crucial time in the management of ewes and lambs. It is the practice of removing from lambs the milk diet provided by the ewe (or a milk replacement diet). From the milk diet, lambs are moved onto forage or grain-based diets. The separation can be stressful for both ewes and lambs.

The process of separating the lambs from their mothers is a bit tricky because they will all scatter if you just walk up and grab one. This is one of the reasons that we give the sheep cracked corn and sweet feed on a regular basis. The associate us with those treats, especially when we are carrying a bucket and calling them.

The sheep associate us with those treats, especially when we are carrying a bucket and calling them. So, we lure them into a smaller fenced area with the treat and then, using a cattle panel (which is a 16-foot long semi ridged metal fence) we worked them all into a corner. Thirteen lambs and nine ewes packed in like sardines.

Then one of us enters that space and picks the lambs out one at a time handing them over the fence. Once all the lambs are separated from their mothers, we let the mothers go and the crying starts.

The moms all calling for their lambs and the lambs all calling for their moms. It is quite a racket and it didn’t stop until mid-morning today.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the actual weening process – as you can imagine all our hands were fully occupied. However, I did get a few of the lambs happily eating once we had their mothers on the other side of the farm.

The lambs and their mothers will remain separated for about four weeks. After that, we can reintroduce them to each other. This is a great opportunity for the mothers to regain some strength after spending 10-12 weeks nursing their lambs. It will also give the lambs the incentive they need to transition to a full grass diet.

Locally Grown

Locally Grown

Locally Grown

Do you buy locally grown food? Do you know where your food is coming from? Do you really know? Take a look at this report by Amy Davis, Investigative Reporter/Consumer Expert for Channel 2 in Houston Texas.

Where does your food come from?

If you are like most people you want to eat healthy safe food and you want to serve your family and friends healthy safe food. There is a way to do that and in a minute I’ll share that method with you.

Depending on where you live and what you eat, up to 100 percent of what you eat is produced far from where you live. There are several problems with that. Locavores.com provides a list of what they believe are the top ten reasons to eat locally. These include freshness, taste, nutrition, purity, and cost to name a few. Some other reasons include supporting your local economy and food security.

Sure the grocery store is convenient, however, that convenience comes at a steep price. So where can you get locally grown food if not the grocery store? The answer is to make your food purchases from local sources. Preferably sources you know and trust. Visit your local farmers markets, get to know the people that grow, raise, and produce the food you eat. Of course, this will require some change. You’ll need to consider what is in season and what grows naturally where you live.

Farmers’ Market

Locally Grown

Farmers’ markets are growing in popularity and are in many cities around the country. If you’ve never been to a farmer’s market, you don’t know what you’re missing. These are generally places where groups of farmers gather to sell their farm products directly to consumers. Your local farmers’ markets might be seasonal, but many are year-round.

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) are direct-to-consumer operations where you, the consumer, buy a “share” of a local farm’s projected harvest. Generally, you pay for your share of the harvest up front. Sometimes you agree to a monthly pay plan. As a CSA member, you usually pick up your shares weekly from a set location.

Other Direct to Consumer Programs

Another direct-to-consumer option is u-pick-it farms, road side and on-site farm stands and stores that retail locally grown produce.

pickin berriesIn Central Arkansas, we have all three of these available to us and seem to have more options every year. From the farmr’s perspective, it is wonderful to have so much interest in our products and so many avenues to get fresh food to the public. From the consumer’s perspective, the more locally grown choices you have, the easier it is to get the farm fresh food you and your family deserve.

Of course, there is another option, and that is to grow your own food. While this may not be an option for everyone, most people can grow a bountiful garden in a very small space. You can read more about how to do that here with the Mittleider Gardening Method.

 

Red Sex Link Hens

Red Sex Link Hens

I just wanted to post an update on our pastured Red Sex Link laying hens. Last week I moved them from the brooder to the chicken coop I built.  I kept them in that coop for a week just to make sure they knew where their home was. These Red Sex Link Hens should start laying in about 12 more weeks and when they do I want them to know where the nest boxes are.

Red Sex Link hen
Is this my good side?

This week I started opening the coop door in the morning and closing them back in at night. They have a very large fenced in yard in which to free-range. Chickens generally need about 10 square feet of grazing area per hen. Less than that and you wind up with bare ground in short order. Another option to a large fenced in area is to keep the birds in a chicken tractor – a mobile pen that is moved on a regular basis. Here’s a video I took yesterday of them out eating grass and bugs.

It’s amazing how much they have grown and now that they are getting to free-range I expect these red sex link hens to grow even faster. There are several nice things about pasture raising the hens. First, I believe it is a more natural for them and certainly provides them with a higher quality of life than being cooped up in a coop. Secondly, they are going to get a better balance of food. Thirdly they will debug the pasture. And finally, they will eat less of that expensive chicken feed I have to buy at the Tractor Supply.

Actually, the best thing about pasture raising red sex link hens is the quality of the eggs they produce. You can see some real differences between a coop raised hen’s eggs and a pasture raised hen’s eggs. But seeing is only small part of the story. Pastured eggs taste better and  are more nutritious too.

If you live in central Arkansas and you want to get on the list for eggs let me know. They should be available beginning in June.