Friday, July 08, 2016
This morning my head is quite full of bread - sourdough, that is. I've just finished doing some work on my eBook and at the back of my mind is the thought of keeping an eye on the two loaves rising on the bench.
After a very long day yesterday that was all go from the start it's a slower, two-cups-of-tea type of morning here.
Amongst the busyness of yesterday, we weaned Rocket. He is now twelve weeks old, and whilst that may sound young, he is one very large boy, and being a ram if he wasn't an orphan I would have weaned him off his mother this week anyway. You see, young Dorper rams are ready to work from as young as three months old, so Rocket really isn't a baby any more.
All going well, Rocket will be leaving home soon. We've found a lovely home for him, where he is going to be very loved and well looked after. Since we left him as a ram, I always knew that he would be leaving home around this age and I'm quite ok with the idea. Maybe I wouldn't be, but recently I've already said goodbye to so much of our livestock that Rocket leaving is really hardly anything compared to some of the others. I've sold almost all of the sheep now, with just two wethers left (who won't ever be leaving, as they are destined for the dinner table and we use a mobile butcher) and three young ewes to be sold.
You're probably wondering why I've sold the sheep, and to be truthful there is a mixture of reasons, but the main one is simply the drought. The drought virtually began when we moved to this property, and each year the rainfall has been getting significantly less. It was so bad this year that we only enjoyed one month of not having to feed the livestock, before returning to putting out hay and supplementing with high protein feeds.
It's a lot of work, and also very draining on your emotions, to see the livestock not thriving as they should and be constantly pouring more and more feed out. It's very expensive too, and a month or so ago we realised that we just couldn't sustain it any longer. The cattle will be leaving next week, and hopefully Rocket too.
If you're looking at the green grass above, and wondering why I mention the word drought, it is simple. We have only a few acres under irrigation, and when the weather is dry it is very hard to keep the water levels up and also have the time to allow the feed to grow properly. In short, it can't grow as fast as we need it. Artificial water just doesn't give the fast growth or body of feed that rain does, and with increasing electricity prices it is very costly to pump the water too. And at the end of the day we can't feed our livestock on only a couple of acres of grass.
It's going to feel so strange to get up in the morning and see the paddocks empty of cattle. To not have to lock the sheep up at night and let them out every morning. I don't quite know what it will feel like yet, but I know it will be a mixture of great sadness and also relief. I know that we are doing the right thing, indeed the only thing that we could do, and in some ways that does make it easier.
In the meantime, I'm dreaming of relocating to greener pastures (literally) and one day again being able to build up a herd of cattle, and also breed up a flock of Dorpers. Until that comes though, it will just be our milker Missy and her friend Clara, along with the chickens.
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