Ram on the Lamb
 Ram on the Lamb
In August we bought a ten month old Dorper ram to begin breeding ewes in November.
 
Two weeks later he disappeared.
 
We searched.
No Luck.
Called neighbors.
No sightings.
Put a notice on the radio.
No calls.
 
Ten days later our friend, Ron called, "Your ram is heading up the road by my place. We’ve got ewes in the barnyard, that should get his attention."
 
As we pulled up to Ron's place a few minutes later.  He started shaking his head, "Sorry, he ran past and didn't even glance at the ewes." Ron lives about four miles from us.
 
We searched the area.
No luck.
We talked with Ron's neighbors.
No sightings.
We were puzzled.
 
For the next five weeks there was no word on the ram.
 
During the time he was gone decided that if we got him back we’d sell him, and not to use him for breeding. We thought he might be unsuitable or lead our ewes away from the farm.
 
Then early one morning our friend David called, "Hey, I spotted your Ram this morning."
 
Where?"
 
He started laughing, "He's about 50 yards away, standing outside your gate."
 
That afternoon I ran into a wise friend and retired veterinarian, Merle. "Congratulations, I heard you got your ram back." News travels fast in a small town.
 
I shared our concerns about keeping the ram.
 
Merle asked if the ram came from a large farm.
 
He did, the breeder had about 1000 head.
 
Merle smiled, "He's young and he got bullied. He wasn't dominant in the herd and he's conditioned to avoid confrontation. Based on his age he's never bred and doesn't know what he's here for."
 
Merle had the cure, "Take one of your older gentle ewes and put them together. He'll figure it out."
 
I followed instructions.
 
Three minutes later the ram understood his calling. He's not interested in leaving now, he’s got other things on his mind.
This spring his first crop of lambs will be here.
ram on the lamb

My life's no picnic, it's a vacation!

Keith got home from a soil building conference and pasture walk which featured a speaker who ranches in the Dakotas. Last winter they fed four hundred cattle on 300 acres of cover crops and stockpiled forage. They didn't feed a single bale of hay. They also run a lodge which is a hunting, fishing, and working cattle ranch for vacationers.

Garrett and CT
Garrett and CT

Keith and I looked through their vacation packages. We were getting excited about all the activities offered. This vacation would just be for the two of us, Cookie will be in Peru, Garrett in Germany. Part of the all-inclusive vacation package is allowing guests to choose their adventure and incorporate it into their stay. Keith loves to fish, I like working with horses and cattle. Keith could spend his day's fishing and I could ride, work cattle, and experience a REAL ranch. As we searched through the website we became even more enthusiastic; jeeps and ATV's are available for the guests to use as they explore the ranch.

We looked through the price guide for each vacation package and started setting a budget.

Garrett and Fancy
Garrett and Fancy

Then I looked out my window where three perfectly beautiful, well broke, horses were grazing. “You'd like to work with the horses and calves,” Keith said. I glanced out the window in the other direction and saw a few calves running together. A couple of days ago, when we moved the cattle, one calf ran in the wrong direction. After trying to get it headed in the right direction Keith decided to rope it so it would move along with the herd. Garrett was reaching for the calf at the same time Keith was casting the rope, he caught Garrett's arm along with the calf.

Keith and Cookie fishing
Keith and Cookie fishing

“The fishing would be great for you, you haven't gone fishing in a while. It would be relaxing,” I said. Again, from our window, I looked across the hills where the Turkey River winds through the valley. It has some great fishing spots. The Big Springs Trout Hatchery is just around the corner from our farm.

“We could go on daily hikes, or drive jeeps or ATV's. We could go exploring every afternoon and at night they have a great restaurant featuring grass-fed beef,” I let out an audible sigh, “although, no one produces better grass-fed beef than us.”

"That's true,” Keith nodded, “You know, we're surrounded by hiking trails. Pikes Peak State Park and the Effigy Mounds aren't far away. We could go boating on the Mississippi River anytime we choose, it's just a few miles away. There are tributary rivers to kayak or canoe or we could use the bicycle paths, ATV trails, or drive our old jeep on any adventure we'd like.”

Suddenly I had an epiphany, “Your right! People pay money, a lot of money, to go on a vacation to experience how we live our daily life. Our life is a vacation!” Some days it's no picnic, but, apparently it is a vacation!"

1

Successful Farming Magazine May, 1952
Successful Farming Magazine May, 1952

This is the cover of Successful Farming Magazine for May, 1952. Notice where the sows are?  They're living outside. The tractor's moving the house to new ground.  That's successful farming!

Here's how the caption describes the picture:

"It's pasture time on the Williamson farm in Indiana. The first to go are the sows and pigs. Right behind them are the houses, feeders and waterers. Willimson likes to have the farrowing houses close at hand for winter farrowing, but pasture gets the nod for late-spring and fall pigs. They're farrowed right out on the alfalfa-brome-Ladino pasture.

Pictured on this month's cover is one of  Williamson's individual-type farrowing houses being moved from the winter location to pasture. The pigs seen in this picture were farrowed in early April. After weaning, the pigs are shifted to range houses, making the individual houses available for June-farrowed pigs.

The pastures are rotated each year as a precaution against disease. ...All equipment, including feeders, waterers, and houses, is on skids and can be easily moved."

Here are pictures of sows in the current method used on most hog farms...Is this what successful farming looks like today?