June 20, 2024

From the Pastures: Lack of rain

Luckily, the hay at our farm grew well this spring and was baled the first week of June. The yield was three more big square bales than last year. I am thrilled because now it has been really dry. A second cutting seems very unlikely. The rain here has been very scarce as it has in many parts of the state.

I attend the Illinois Lamb and Wool Producers’ Sheep Day on June 3. The meeting was very informative with several interesting speakers. Andrew Weaver from the University of North Carolina discussed how to best prevent worm problems with your flock.

Members of the Illinois Forage and Grassland Council talked about hay quality and improving pastures. This is going to be important this year with the lack of rain throughout the state. They have a very informative website: https://illinoisforage.org/.

Megan Myerscough from Purina Animal nutrition gave insights to sheep nutrition and products to help improve your flock’s health. Josh McCann discussed wool judging and tips to improve the quality of fleeces. The last speaker was Jacob Agne on sustainable agriculture.

There was also a lamb camp for youth. This was well attended. The kids learned management practices, showmanship and show preparation. A combination of presentations and hands-on activities encouraged kids to get involved with sheep.

My lambs are growing well. Final count was even, rams and ewes. One little ram I am excited about is a deep brown color. He has a really nice fleece which I think will stay the dark color. This deep brown makes beautiful yarn. The other lambs have a variety of colors, mostly with spots. They are having fun jumping around and playing.

Normally, I leave the Shetland wool a natural color when making it into yarn. Last month, I had some fun and dyed a white Shetland fleece with a hot pink dye. When it was spun, the yarn was very bright hot pink. I took it to a local fiber festival and it caught the eye of a little girl. She was thrilled with the color and asked her grandma to knit her a hat and scarf. Now I need to make more so there is enough for both projects. Enjoy the great summer weather.

Jane Zeien

Jane Zeien

Belvidere, Ill.