Friday, July 27, 2012

Alien in the Pasture


Nothing ever stays the same around here.  This farming adventure allows us weekly opportunities to tweak and adjust our systems, so that everything works more smoothly, effectively, cheaper, and easier on the back.  That's great for someone like me who enjoys change and novelty.  Plus, it's my back that needs to be protected.

I've been ruminating for several years now about how to feed hay to our critters with the least amount of waste and work.  Though I had considered large round bales as an economical choice, I just didn't see how I could keep the hay out of our fleeces as the sheep or alpacas worked down those big bales, usually from the inside, out.  I thought about using a cattle panel/t-post contraption to contain them, but it seemed like a big hassle.

Young Dan delivers our bale from Poole Feed in Wylie
One round bale is like 12-14 small square bales
One of my favorite suppliers, Premier One Sheep Supply came up with a panel system that they swear works for sheep, and will save us money in the long run.  So I bit the bullet and bought their panels.  (I love to mess with the mind of our UPS driver who has to deliver such crazy packages to the farm.)

Tella is puzzled about being penned up.  She loves to help with projects.
I penned up the dogs to keep them out of the way while the hay was delivered and while I worked on the panels.  I also moved the sheep to the adjoining paddock to keep them from being underfoot - they are such absolute obstructionists when it comes to building projects.

The only tool I needed was pliers to untwist some wires.  Sweet.
Six heavy-duty welded wire panels, and six crazy pigtail wires that serve as hinges to connect them,  make up the system.  Strategically placed larger openings in the panels allow the sheep to get to the hay without destroying the bale or getting their heads caught.  Which would be a definite downer.

The pigtail wires twisted right onto the panel ends to hinge them together.  Brilliant.
Ta-Da!
 The panels went together very easily, and fit tightly around this bale.  Now, I just hope the sheep like the hay, and that as they eat it down, I can keep the panels pulled tightly around the bale.  This is supposed to reduce waste quite a bit.  If you've seen our sheep pens, you know how much hay gets completely trashed instead of eaten.  It's like burning cash with a blowtorch.

"What the...?"
Two brave sheep...
Now three...
Now the whole flock gathers round...
 When the project was done and I released the critters, you would think a spaceship had landed in the pasture.  Everyone, including the dogs, was hesitant to get close to it.  But they're all very curious critters, and they soon overcame their fears.  The dogs got bored and moved on, and the sheep relaxed and dove into the chomping.  I'll check back in 24 hours or so and see how much hay has been consumed.

It looks like it's going to work!


2 comments:

  1. SO glad you mentioned how many square bales would make up a round bale. I've always wondered!

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  2. Wonderful post, Cindy! Our family all gathered around and enjoyed your storytelling and the great pics. Loved it!! xoxo

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