Thursday, November 7, 2013

Four Days Later: Life Happened in Rural Nevada

So there you have it. Day THREE and I fail at my 30 consistent days of blogging. I blame most of it on not having a plan and the rest is just life. While my life is busy, so is everyone else's so I'm not going to dwell on that. I'll just give you some highlights from what's been going on around here and then tomorrow I'll write about something educational. So you know, you can actually learn something about Nevada.

- My sheepherder shot his deer on Sunday and we are going to cut him up tonight. I'm told it's a nice dear, its horns are not too big, but it had a huge body so I will probably have to spend some time this evening cleaning out my freezer. Now the question is to mount or not to mount. Honestly I don't know much about hunting but the thing looks big enough to hang on the wall from my perspective.

- Yesterday with the help of the sheepherder's brother sister-in-law and three nieces we moved all of the sheepherder's sheep to new fields. In the winter time sheep can graze alfalfa stubble that is left from the last time they cut the fields for hay or silage. Grazing stubble goes fast, the good news? The sheepherder and I now have a standing daily date. Hey, who says moving fence and drinking hot chocolate isn't a date!?

- APPLES, APPLES, APPLES.... they are still on the counter two weeks later. Fortunately, it's been cold, even in my kitchen. Unfortunately, if I don't get wedding dress rehearsal pie fillings made soon the apples will be too soft. Yes I'm already making pie fillings for our wedding rehearsal dinner next summer. They freeze well and it is absolutely un-American to celebrate anything on the Fourth of July without apple pie and apples are in season (cheap) now. I'm truly not that organized, I fell into this one.

- I'm gearing up for another stretch of business travel over the next two weeks. My office is a wreck, I have more laundry to do than the dry cleaners and I haven't done my floors in a week. However my life planner came in the mail yesterday so I'm pretty excited to plan my life. I'm making it a personal goal to prove the sheepherder wrong and use it diligently for more than 3 months. 

There you have it, there is life in rural Nevada this week.

Tomorrow I'd like you to meet Nevada's first brandy. Get excited.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rotational Grazing in Nevada

I have mentioned before that my husband-to-be is starting a sheep dairy. Yesterday, I posted about doing the chores while he is away. Aside from hauling water to the pasture they are grazing, my other job while he is gone is to let them eat more of the pasture. We use a system called rotational grazing. Basically we give the sheep a certain amount of grass to eat each day and then move the fences so they can eat another piece. 

We have about 180 sheep in this group, so they get moved every day to every other day depending on the section of the pasture we are in. Just like any other crop, some sections of the field are denser than others. The electric fence is connected to a car battery. We have two batteries and rotate them from the fence to the charger in the house. There are many types of fence chargers, but we use this simple one because our ewes only graze for the time when they aren’t milking.

Here is a good picture to explain rotational grazing.

The left side has been grazed the right side has not been. They are left on it long enough to eat down to just below where you could harvest it with a swather. We use this system because not only does it allow the sheep to get the most out of a pasture, but it also allows the pasture to rest. It is grazed, aerated and fertilized and then rests for a few weeks which allows the grass to grow back thicker than it was before.

It is also an economical option for us in terms of feeding the sheep. As a grazing dairy farmer friend in California says, “They harvest it for ya, store it and feed it to themselves. Then they fertilize and aerate the grass while they’re at it.”

Rotational grazing isn’t huge in Nevada yet, but my sheepherder and his brother have both had good luck with it. Maybe it will catch on with time, but most likely only for dairy sheep. Most range sheep in Nevada still run on desert ranges taken care of by Peruvian sheepherders that live in sheep camps and only come into the headquarters every few weeks. They are truly a living symbol of Nevada’s history and most of its families’ past.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hunting in Nevada

No topic seems more relevant to kick off this blog series than to write about the hunting in Nevada. You may have seen my Instagram about packing food for my sheepherder to go on a hunting trip yesterday. This is his fourth hunting trip since September 1, whether for his own tags or those of relatives. Hunting is very common here, whether for elk, deer, antelope, goats, sheep or birds, lots of families spend their fall weekends seeing the wilderness of Nevada. This might turn out to be one of the most memorable hunts of the year, aside from the once in a lifetime mountain goat hunt he went on with his brother-in-law.

This weekend he is hunting to fill his mule deer tag up in the very northwestern corner of the state, close to both California and Oregon. Along on the trip are his uncle and grandpa. His brother, mother and oldest niece drove up to join them today, it should be full of memories for certain. Meanwhile here at home, while I usually love to go with him, the sheep are too pregnant to be left alone. 
Someone has to pack water to them and feed the guard dogs and this time, that someone is me. We have a few sheep that aren’t feeling too good, they have upset tummies. Leaving me in charge of the sheep once in a while is really good for our relationship because you don’t realize what kind of pressure your farmer is constantly packing around until all that pressure is on your shoulders. Putting myself in his size 17 shoes helps me to be more patient when he’s cranky or upset. It’s only been two days, and I’m terrified that something will happen to the sheep while he is gone. Fortunately, my best friend married a vet. Thank you Dr. Z for being on speed dial. 
Hopefully the hunting party is having a blast, fingers crossed they fill the freezer.

What are common fall activities in your area? Do a lot of people hunt?

Friday, November 1, 2013

30 Days of Life in Rural Nevada: Starts Today

I'm kicking myself in the pants. Getting my act together and dusting off my blog. I've been on a hiatis for who knows how long. July is what blogger tells me. It's kind of like not going to the gym, once you stop it's easy not to start. I typically work out 4 days a week at least. Monday came I didn't go, it's now Friday and I still haven't gone. Anyway back to kicking myself in the pants.

My dear social media friend Holly, you probably know her from her blog My Generation, has a November tradition of writing on a certain topic or series of topics for 30 days straight. She challenged me (and the rest of her readers, although it was definitely a Sunday sermon preverbial finger pointed at me kind of moment) to use the 30 days to develop better blogging habits or in my case to actually do it.

Since moving to Nevada I haven't really shared a lot about my life here. It is sometimes strange, often hectic and generally interesting in our neck of the woods, so I decided for 30 days I'm going to write about my/our life in the Great Basin of Nevada.

You can expect topics to range from what it's like for my Shepherd husband-to-be to start a sheep dairy, our 3 in. avg annual rainfall and irrigation, Nevada's agriculture commodities and farmers, and really anything I find interesting about living in the desert. I hope you'll enjoy this journey through the Silver State and possibly actually learn something about the largest, smallest state in the Union and the farm families like ours who live here.

Day 1: Hunting in Nevada
Day 2: Rotational Grazing in Nevada 
Day 6: Four Days Later Life Happened