It's sunflower time! You see their sunny faces lining the gravel roads where I live, and they are towering over the shorter flowers in my garden beds. They also grow wild in weedy pastures. I love them. They come up with little effort or care. You know it's summer when the sunflowers make their appearances. Speaking of sunflowers, they are a favorite food of sheep! If you have a weedy lot or pasture, sheep will clean it right up for you, and they really love sunflowers best of all.
This past week we've been working sheep. It was time to bring them home to sort off the lambs for sale. They were grazing our Far North Pasture so it took a couple trips to bring them home to the sheep corrals. It's been so hot that we didn't want to trail them too far at once. They get so hot and tired with all that wool. We went out very early in the morning the first day. I had a great birthday gift that first morning out -- trailing sheep in the cool of the day with a pinky-orange sunrise behind them. It really was a treat!
Wednesday the men sorted sheep while I tended to three grandgirls who spent the night -- Bee, Rootie Tootie, and Lily. Then we loaded up the pick-ups and stock trailers and headed down the road. NumberOneSon, CarpenterSon, and I were the truckers for the day and we made two trips each with loaded trailers to the Sheep Sale Barn about and hour and a half away from home. After unloading my trailer, one of the yards girls commented to me what beautiful lambs we had. That was a nice reward for our labor!
Thursday was sale day and so Hubby and I made the trip to the sale barn and watched the lambs sell. You learn a lot about people and sheep when you go to a sheep sale. Sheep barns are very smelly, there are flies and dust and there's poop, and there are hard-working folks who process the sheep through the corrals and onto trucks. Lots of women are working in the yards at the sheep sale. It's not glamorous in the least but they like the work and they like sheep. The folks sitting in the bleachers are not afraid of getting dirty, they like sheep, and are proud of their livestock. There were crusty old ranchers, teenage girls, large Mennonite families, and middle-aged folks like us.
There was one middle-aged lady sitting next to us, Patty was her name, who brought in a LOT of lambs -- probably over 1000 head. She was interesting to watch. She had about 6 hired men surrounding her and she was busy keeping record of all the facts and figures as her sheep came through the barn. They always announce the seller's name and the kind of sheep being sold, and then you can look up at a TV screen that shows how many head are coming through as well as the total pounds and the average weight per lamb. The auction starts and the buyers can buy all or a gate-cut of the sheep. When her ewe lambs came in, she raised her hand and announced that all the lambs with notches in their ears were twin lambs. That was smart of her and a good selling point. I took note of that in my mind. After the sale Hubs and I both thought that it would be something we should do when we lamb next year -- just notch the ewe lambs' ears that are twins to good ewes right out of the jug. It would make deciding which ewe lambs to keep as replacements an easier task. We found out later that Patty has a herd of 3000 ewes in our county. We had never heard of her before, but we could tell, she knows what she's doing.
Our lambs came in the barn, 262 head of mixed lambs with an average weight of 118 pounds, and boy oh boy, did they look smart. They were fat and woolly and were one of the most uniform sets of lambs that came through the barn that day. Getting lambs to all look the same and weigh approximately the same is something that is very desirable to a buyer. We were happy to have gotten a very good price for them. The thing about sheep is that they cost so little to run, they love to eat weeds, and they provide two crops -- wool and meat. They are a great way to break into the livestock business on a small scale. We like sheep! On the way home we were talking about whether or not we should increase the herd a little more.
As I said before, the days have been really hot here -- in the 90s and reaching to 100 occasionally. The wind is blowing a lot too and so the country is drying up fast. We still have very good grass and pretty good water in the pastures which is a blessing. Our yards and gardens are struggling, and I'm choosing to water vegetables over the lawn. I'd rather have a homegrown tomato or cucumber than a green lawn any day! The hay is all put up now and the bulls are turned out into the cows. It's the summer mode we are in at this point. There have been a few thunderstorms roll in, but they are mostly wind and lightning and so now we are watching the horizon for fires. The men got called out to a small fire nearby, but thankfully, they snuffed it out. We think about all the other folks in the country who are fighting big wildfires all over the USA. Prayers go up for them.
I hope you're having a good summer.