I love spring and everything about it. I also love summer and fall, and maybe a few things about winter but I really love spring. For me, spring really is the most wonderful time of the year. It is starting to warm up outside (YAY!) and color is finally coming back to the landscape. The browns of winter can be really depressing, especially after looking at them for several months. In spring it appears that everything is waking up and coming back to life. The trees begin to get buds and often it seems that they leaf out or bloom overnight. Each spring rain brings a little more green grass, clover, and flowers into the colors of the landscape.
Here at 14 Hands Ranch, we do most of our kidding and lambing in the spring. All of the babies racing around the pens and pastures makes springtime wonderful and exciting! We are anxiously waiting for our Lamancha goats to kid and sheep to lamb at the end of April/first of May. We feel like following natures natural rhythms with our kidding and lambing gives our livestock a better chance to perform how God created them to. The only exception to this is with our Boer goats. We want them to kid in January or February so that our children can show them at the 4-H fair in July. When we allow nature to work how it is intended the livestock generally can kid and lamb on their own, we don’t have to worry about any babies freezing, we don’t need heat lamps set up, and we are much more eager to spend time with the babies when it is nice outside.
Growing up, my family had a Limousin and Red Angus herd of cattle. We were one of the few in our area that calved in the summer. My dad always said that the cattle were there to work for us, not us work for them. We have adopted that philosophy on our farm as well. This means that we don’t introduce the buck or ram to the females until around Thanksgiving so that we are kidding and lambing in spring.
The other thing that that makes spring so wonderful is that we purchase and bring home all of our 4-H show animals in March and April. We typically start talking to breeders about what they will have available in February or the first of March. So far we have our show pigs, lambs, and bucket calves here. The Boer goats that we purchased will be picked up in a few weeks. There’s something so hopeful and optimistic about a new set of show animals. Everyone has goals and dreams of how they would like their animals to do. It takes a lot of work, discipline, time, dirt, and hard days to get to the end of the summer with the projects. Sometimes, there’s disappointment at the end of the summer because the judge didn’t like your animal on that one day or maybe the animal didn’t grow as well as you had hoped. Sometimes, it’s because the animal wasn’t worked with as much as they should have been. And sometimes, it all comes together and that animal wins the banner. But it all starts out every spring with hope and dreams.
The Corona virus has gave us a lot more time than we would typically have in the spring, so we started working with 4-H animals over the weekend. The pigs were all weighed and walked. This is usually a very chaotic event the first couple of times we let them all out to walk them but this group of pigs have been very calm and well behaved. The sheep were also all weighed and are learning to stand tied. The bucket calves were haltered for the first time. Midnight (the black one) didn’t seem to mind the halter but Sunset fought it the entire time. Violet our Boer/Alpine cross was also weighed and haltered for the first time. She didn’t like the halter either so Colton decided he would just carry her instead until she gets to big for him to carry. It won’t be long and he will have to teach her to lead because she is growing fast. Then he will learn it would have been better to start working with her on leading when she was small! The kids have also started riding the horses to get them back into shape for the summer shows. We also started working on our garden much earlier than we have before. I’m hoping to get a few things planted in it this week before it rains again.
I hope that all of you can find something or many things that bring you joy and hope this spring. Maybe its the green grass, the birds singing again, baby chicks, blue skies, sunshine, baby animals, or the warm weather. Spring has so many things to offer that make it the most wonderful time of the year!