Planning – July Newsletter

I have a hunch. I am pretty sure most pregnant women do not spend their third trimester fretting over where to house the sheep for the fall, how many beef cows to overwinter, how to manage pig farrowing in and around one’s due date or what milking the family milk cow will look like upon the baby’s arrival, but lately my mind is a swirling wash of such questions. And so, even though it is late-July, and I should be focused entirely on summer grazing rotations and hot little boys, October is at the forefront of my every decision.

Sheep preparations: By October 1 we aim to have the sheep in their breeding groups. Provided I don’t go into labor early, we should be able to accomplish this pre-baby. The big question is, how will the grass hold up? Will we need to truck all 60 animals home or will they continue to have enough feed up the road. Hmmm, no way to know!

Beef cow preparations: We just received word that the herd of 11 cows I mentioned a few newsletters ago will be ours as of September 1. This will bring our herd total to 28 animals for the winter. Again, will there be enough grass in the remote pastures to carry all of these beasts into October or should we plan to truck them home early? And, as we count up our growing pile of hay bales, exactly how many bales will we need this winter?

Pig preparations: Here’s one area I THOUGHT we were all set on however Gabe informed me last week that two of our sows are due to farrow in early-October. Now, if I had realized this was the plan when the boar was put in with the girls I would obviously have voiced my disdain, but alas, times are busy and the pig gestation was poorly, or perhaps not at all, planned. Good luck Pansy and Posey, you might be on your own this time!

Jeannette preparations: Perhaps the most planning, at least this moment, revolves around my milking schedule. Usually I milk around 5:30am and 4:00pm, not exactly 12 hour intervals, but Jeannette doesn’t complain and it seems to fit into our family’s daily rhythm. There is no way however, I will be trudging out to the barn come October for an early morning milking AND I have decided that milking just once a day would be much more convenient as we enter this new phase of our lives. This means, I am in the midst of transitioning Jeannette to once a day milkings. Her morning milking will remain unchanged for the time being, but each afternoon I milk her a bit earlier. For example, the past two days I milked her at 1pm and today I will head out at 11am, just 5 hours after her morning milking. What this means: In a few short days (if all goes well) our girl will be down to one milking each day and I will be resting with my feet up come 4pm…well, at least the former will be true, as for resting with my feet up…we’ll see.

So, yes, while it is July and we are moving animals about on grass, checking watering troughs vigilantly and squeezing in trips to the beach with Eben and August, October 10 is my focus. Perhaps the so-called “nesting” phenomenon so common among late-pregnancy women is simply manifesting in a slightly different way for me – scouring the house, not so much…animals all snug and accounted for, a constant concern.

Enjoy your summer,

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