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What Happened to November?

Posted 11/30/2011 11:13am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

I don't recall losing track of November in previous years.  It has always been the month of transitioning to the slower pace of winter, but this year it has nearly slipped by without an acknowledgement of how much changes on the farm during its short thirty days.  

Most years November is the month that we get all the animals settled into their winter homes and routines but this season has been mild and wet giving us several extra weeks of grazing for the sheep and cows.  Roy has the barn cleaned out and ready to move the beef cows down for the winter. The sows are in the former sheep pen where they are both sheltered from the cold and being put to work excavating the old floor so that in the spring we can dig out the original concrete and lower it to the level of the rest of the barn for easy cleaning.  Believe me this might sound like cheap labor, but... given the price of grain and that they aren't good at taking directions, I would not recommend them for anything too complicated.  They do raise cute babies though. 

The feeder pigs are in the chicken pen for the winter.  When or if the ground in the chicken run ever dries out, they will have access to entire run, but for now, we cannot afford to have them root up the ground around the fences and trees any more than they already have. Pigs on pasture are wonderful under the right conditions and disastrous in the wrong ones. Wet ground rooted and stomped on by pigs will dry into hard-packed, tight soil that is difficult to reseed or cultivate.  It's just like getting into your garden with a rototiller too soon after a spring rain.  I peeked in on the feeder pigs yesterday and they looked very warm and cozy snuggled together for warmth. "Pigs in a blanket" are happy pigs; makes me think that whoever coined that marketing term for wieners wrapped in dough knew a thing or two about pigs.

The sheep, like the cows, are still on pasture. Two weeks ago three breeding rams were put in with  the ewes.  We divided the registered ewes from the commercial ewes and gave them a ram all to themselves. In a couple weeks we'll pull the rams to ensure that spring lambing is limited to three or four weeks. We keep the sheep on pasture all winter providing them with hay and giving them a paddock with winter water access and some natural shelter from the wind.  Now that we lamb in the spring, the sheep need very little shelter.  In fact we've found they have fewer lung issues since we started keeping them out in the winter months.   We will bring them in to be sheared in March and if it is still cold they get a couple weeks to acclumate in the shelter of the barnyard.  But... that is all months away.  Time to be in the moment and enjoy the last bit of November.