August is here, summer is almost over. The days have been getting shorter and my thoughts turn to winter. There are two times of the year that are hard on the sheep in my area – Summer heat and Winter. With the beginning of August, I know the extreme heat will soon end. I will not have to be diligent in watching the sheep for heat stress. August is the month I make sure I have enough hay for winter feeding until the spring grass appears next spring.
Most years I start my sheep on grass in March and they are able to graze until the middle of November. I start feeding hay in November.
This year with the heat and no rain, I am a little concerned with the amount of hay that has been harvested. Usually the farmers would have cut a second cutting, and the grass growing for a third cutting in September. This year, there has only been one cutting of hay. In August I check how much hay I have on hand, and what I think I will need for winter until the grass is green. This is a very good estimated guess. As I can not foretell the future and how much rain we will receive or how long the cold will last, nor when the grass will turn green in the spring. Purchasing the hay in August or September will be less expensive than having to purchase hay in February and March when hay farmers are out of hay to sell.
My July lambing group is done. Next group of ewes due to lamb in October, with a group following in December. I breed my ewes in small groups up to twelve ewes per group. I am checking my supplies for lambing and ordering what I will need.
August marks the time to start preparing for winter. Checking barns, water lines and any other repairs that might be needed. I also check the heat lambs that will be used for lambs if the weather gets really cold during lambing.
It is important this year for everything to be ready in August for October lambing and winter hay as I will be very busy in September, and not able to work on the farm. My daughter is pregnant with triplets, their due date is in September, and I will be there with her. My husband will be on his own in September to take care of the sheep and work his job. I need to have things done and ready for when he is going to be “flying solo”.
Are you getting ready for winter season?