June 20, 2024

From the Pastures: Peace of the country

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. Whew, our annual holiday lamb slaughter just ended for our ethnic customers, and even though we had fewer ram lambs to offer because of last year’s flock reduction it was still kind of hectic. For starters, many of these folks come out two to three weeks ahead to pick out their lamb, then we weigh them the day they kill and that all takes time and a bit of effort.

While Ruth helps with taking in the cash, I’m busy catching their lambs and weighing, then taking the tubs of inedibles out to the compost pile and cleaning up throughout the day and washing down after everyone leaves — except some families don’t leave right away. They enjoy the peace and quiet of the country so much that they bring grills and canopies or park under the trees and stay until dark. I feel ever so grateful I can do that and never have to leave.

We’ve told them that this would probably be our last time since next year’s holiday will be in June and we wouldn’t lamb in December to provide the 6-month-old lamb required. Many of these families have been coming here for 10 to 15 years and have limited sources, so if any of you wouldn’t mind lambing that early you could pretty well set your own price.

Our new guard dog, Rene, named in honor of his former Hispanic owner, must have anticipated the busy day and left the flock the night before and didn’t show his face until the morning after. And he has stayed on duty since.

We had over 4 inches of rain on July 4, which stopped the cultivating and with another half-inch later has kept me out of the field, so the corn is now laid by and the beans are growing almost as fast as the weeds. I think the cultivators and weed zappers will be busy when the organic bean fields around here get dry enough.

Prior to the rains my friend, Ted, baled his second-cutting of alfalfa that I bought and hauled home, so I have a start on winter sheep feed. I told him big square bales work best for me since it hauls easy, stores easy and I can feed it easily in feeders I built. The ewes can reach in and clean up the bale better than my round bale feeders and most important of all I don’t have to lift them like small squares.

The pastures haven’t slowed down yet with all the moisture, so all in all in spite of a few drowned-out and washed-out spots, all the crops around here that Ruth and I have seen on our evening drives look good. I hope all your crops are doing well. Keep up this good work. Happy trails!

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.