February 01, 2023

From the Pastures: Donkey defense?

Happy New Year! I am not used to writing 2023 yet. Was not so long ago, the year 2023 seemed very far in the future. I was able to accomplish a couple of my farm business-related 2022 New Year’s resolutions. I attended the Illinois Lamb and Wool Producers meeting in March and learned how to improve the health of baby lambs from a presentation by Dr. Josh McCann. His suggestions for feed supplements improved the lambs’ growth rate.

My other resolution involved learning more about marketing. There were a couple of webinars that I attended and was able to implement new marketing initiatives for both the mill business and our store. These marketing initiatives involved staying in contact with customers and offering them more knowledge about the benefits of wool and wool products.

Currently, I am still thinking about resolutions for 2023. One thing I am always behind on is accounting and bookwork. This makes tax time more difficult. Keeping up with the accounting part of the business is the least interesting to me, but would be a good goal for 2023.

This spring I will need to get a guard animal for the flock since the coyotes have become bolder. We are leaning toward a donkey. We have had horses in the past and know how to care for them. Maybe a miniature donkey would work well. I need to do some research on how many are needed and if their size makes a difference.

Our hay supply is doing well. Mid-January is when I get a little nervous if the hay will last until spring. We have several big bales remaining, so my guess is there will be plenty. I have been checking the ewe’s condition to be sure enough is being fed and the sheep look good.

Both Shetland and Scottish Blackface do not require grain to maintain their body weight and produce good wool. It is always a challenge to keep the hay out of the wool. I have not put coats on the sheep, but we have changed our feeders to control the hay. It is hard to get the hay out when processing in the mill.

Hope those whose flocks are lambing have a good lamb crop.

Jane Zeien

Jane Zeien

Belvidere, Ill.