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Hello world!

December 25, 2009

Keeping the grass taller helps hold the snow. We got lots of nice moisture out of this storm.

 

“Hello world!” is the default title for one’s first blog post on WordPress. I think we’re supposed to change it, but I decided to leave it, because it fits me, since I do information technology work to support my sheep farming habit. Right now, I build databases for a living, but in the past, I’ve written my fair share of programs, and often when you are learning a new programming language, your first programming assignment is to display “Hello, world.”  It also fits because I hope to start a conversation of sorts through this blog, and saying “hello” is a generally accepted means of beginning a conversation. Through this blog, I hope we get to know our audience better–our current and future customers, our neighbors in the virtual (and real) community of folks passionate about local food pathways, and even those who may disagree with or not understand our farming philosophies. I hope we grow in knowledge and understanding through the sharing of stories and experiences. And finally, I hope we laugh, because life is too short not to have fun!  What are some of the topics for discussion? Our day-to-day revolves around sheep. And dogs–the ones who protect them and the one who is learning to move the sheep to my desired location. Food, because I love to cook almost as much as we love to eat, and we raise dairy sheep because we like cheese and yogurt and lean, tender lamb. You may have to stop me from talking about grass, since I’m obsessed about the pastures on our farm and the process of improving them, and I tend to go on and on about grass, forbs, and legumes until your eyes glaze over. For sure we will talk about the weather, because weather is the 900 lb gorilla in the corner for every farmer and rancher that raises anything outside.    

Weather has been front and center here in Oklahoma this week, since Christmas Eve brought a blizzard that set the all-time record snowfall amount for Oklahoma City. We got about 7 or 8 inches of snow here–not near the 14″ the City received. but enough to complicate life on the farm, especially with the accompanying arctic air that produced it. I’m really spoiled by our central Oklahoma winters. While we are subject to some pretty wild temperature swings, we don’t normally stay in the freezer for more than a couple of days before we get a good thaw on the pasture water lines. But we’re in that time of year where it can get cold and stay cold. The picture of the ewes at the top of this page is one that we snapped during the December ice storm of 2007. I may just change that pic to something more pastoral if I get to missing the warm weather too much. In the meantime, here are some more pictures of the aftermath of the big snow:    

Christmas Eve day I had to dig the 4-wheeler out of the snow to do chores

 

4-wheelers are one of our most essential equipment items and directly contribute to an extra 10 lbs of my weight, since they enable me to exercise less. Hmm, I wonder if Einstein ever did any calculations about the tradeoff between time and mass…      

Sisko, the patriarch of our Maremma livestock guardian dogs, demonstrates his stellar duck guarding skills (note the 3 Muskovies at the top of the picture).

 

The Maremmas really like the snow. They put on an amazingly thick undercoat of fur for the winter. It’s normal to see them laying outside in a snowstorm, even though they have access to shelter with the sheep.      

Big drifts at the edge of a creek gully.

 

I’m thinking about planting bamboo at that gully to help mitigate the erosion problem there. NRCS says I can use black locust, but bamboo sounds a lot more exotic, don’t you think? Plus, the sheep can graze it. And on that note, I’m going to stop. Thanks for your visit, and we’ll resume the conversation soon, ok?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kari permalink
    January 12, 2010 4:19 pm

    I hope you haven’t planted bamboo yet! You should speak with a cooperative extension or some resource before you plant an extremely aggressive, prolific exotic that can knock out native species. I really hope you decide not to. I have seen parks and other areas destroyed by bamboo. They send out shoots through their roots and expand to areas you might not want them.

  2. January 12, 2010 7:39 pm

    I really get your concern about the invasiveness of bamboo, but there have been some promising grazing studies done by the extension service in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. With the managed grazing practices we follow, the sheep should really keep it in check. Still haven’t made up my mind, though!

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