Farming Lesson of the Day: Docking Tails:
We use an "elastrator" to "dock" the lambs' tails. This is done when they are a day old. A very small and very strong green rubber band is put on the tail using a special tool. The band cuts off the blood supply to the tail which will then fall off in a couple weeks. Here the band going on.
Here's what it looks like the first day.
This little lamb's tail is about to fall off. Can you see how it is shrivelled?
This year, The Farmer is "docking" all of the lambs' tails. In the past he only did the ewe lambs so it would be easy to identify the ram lambs that we used for our lamb business. This year he changed his mind for some reason. Having a short tail helps the sheep stay clean and free of manure. It is healthier in the hot humid summer when flies and maggots can infest a sheep and kill it quickly. Nothing more gross in the summer than a sheep infested with maggots. UUUUGGGHHH.
More from The Farmer Today
Question: I have a question about the de-worming... I know that for horses the deworming is prevention only. If you de-worm too late and the horse already has worms, the horse will die because the de-wormer will kill the worms while they are in the horse's heart blocking blood flow. Is thie same thing true for the de-wormer you use on the sheep?
The Farmer Says: Sheep always have some worms in their stomach. Although there are several different types of worms (taper worms, round worms, etc.) it is round worms that tend to cause the most problems. Killing the worms will not kill the sheep or lamb. In fact, worming sheep when they have a relatively light worm burden is a waste of time and money. Also worming when it is not really necessary can increase the chance of worms building up resistance to the worming medicine. Drug resistance is becoming a very serious problem.
Question: Hey Farmer! We've been dying to send you a few questions: Which model MASSEY-FERGUSON are you using?
The Farmer Says: I have two Massey Ferguson tractors. The loader tractor which gets used the most is a Model 4235 60 horse power tractor. The larger tractor which is used for all the haying operations (mowing, raking, baling, etc.) is a 6480 120 horse power tractor.
These days all the major tractor manufacturers make a good tractor. I chose Massey Ferguson because we had a dealer in my town. The upstairs part of the business was a 100 year old general store. The downstairs part was the tractor dealership. If I was having a problem with my tractor, I would simply drive it down to Streeter's Store. While they were fixing the problem, I could go upstairs and buy an ice cream cone, some fish hooks for later and shoot the breeze with Whitey Streeter who made it his business to know all about your business. Sadly, Streeters closed its doors for the last time a couple years ago.
Kristin Says: I wrote about Streeter's Store several times on my blog. You can read about it here. It's funny but I get e-mails every once in a while about Streeter's Store - usually from people who lived in town long ago and wonder if it is still around. Happily, the building is being used again. There is a package store (for those of you not from New England, this means beer, wine and liquor) in one half of it and soon to be some kind of tea room if they can ever get the permits straightened out. Maybe I will write about that when it finally opens.
Question: Do you keep a count of all the sheep you've ever had on the farm? how many?
The Farmer Says: Although I don’t keep count of all the sheep I’ve ever had on the farm, I know that it’s quite a few.
Question: Which hat/sweater combo from Kristin is your favorite to wear?
The Farmer Says: I guess my favorite hat/sweater combo is the one I can find that morning.
Kristin Says: The man is in need of a new sweater. Several have moth holes in them. I must say, he isn't high on the list - I'm always working on something for upcoming publication. I must make that a priority. I do manage a hat once in a while.
Question: What's in your flask: Scotch or Jameson?
The Farmer Says: Although I don’t have a flask, a good single malt scotch or a very good cognac while sitting next to the fireplace sounds just fine.
Question: Have you ever thought of posing in a dedicated Farmer calendar? Like January in the Carhartt suit with twin lambs, February in the Carhartt suit with a red hat, March in the Carhartt suit slightly unbuttoned for the warmth - no hat, and so on, perhaps a couple of months with sweaters. Maybe one month with Jeremy, another with Eyeore, maybe one with the chickens. And the dogs. And the cats.... Semi-serious question. It would be part of the Kristin Nicholas/The Farmer/Julia family lifestyle series..... perhaps a reality show is a possiblity - The Farmer + Kristin + Julia + 200+ animals..... just free-thinking here...
The Farmer Says: I have to admit that I know who suggested that I pose in a dedicated Farmer calendar...... If I’m already starting to unbutton my Carhartt suit in March, I have a feeling that she will be unwilling to accept anything short of The Full Monty by Christmas. I guess I will be needing a lot of that really good cognac if I’m to follow through with this proposition.
Kristin Says: This is why I love my friends - Always thinking of ways we can make money and keep the farm afloat although some I'm pretty sure won't come to fruition!
The Farmer is almost done, only a few straggling questions to answer - if you want to send anymore questions, please do but make it early in the week. Several of you have asked this to be a regular column and we will try at different times of the year. Lambing is the most exciting time of the year (if taking care of little lambs is your kind of thing) here on the farm.