News Letter: Spring 2001

Here on the farm we've had just enough moisture to let the flowers bloom for a bit and the native grasses grow a very little bit. It hasn't lasted though, and here we are on June 21st, the first day of Summer and the fields look like it is the end of August. The little river has had some water, but now it appears that in another week it will go dry again, just as it did last year.

This Spring has brought us many healthy lambs, born from the Bond rams and our Corriedale ewes. They are an odd mix in their faces and body type. Some have little Bond faces but have more the Corriedale body and some look just like the Corriedales. We did get two purebred Bond lambs from Kalmia and James. Beautiful moorit Bond ram and ewe lambs that look just like their sire and dam ... so distinctive in the set of the eyes and ears and their long bodies and short legs.

columbine blooming

Here they are at one week old and then later at two months old.
new born Bond lambs Bond lambs at 2 months old

A cause of great concern for us, this past Spring has been the outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) in Great Britain, other parts of Europe, as well as Asia and Africa. It is the single most contagious disease of livestock and also includes wildlife such as deer, elk, bison, antelope, and bighorn sheep. A fast-spreading virus causes FMD, and all cloven-footed animals are susceptible to the disease. Nearly 100% of the animals in an exposed herd will become ill, and young animals may die from the disease.

Humans can and do track the virus about to different places on their shoes, clothes, trucks, etc. They can serve as mechanical vectors for FMD, just as a virus covered doorknob or computer keyboard, and you can catch somebody else's cold. The tracking about of virus on shoes is why the public walking paths throughout Britain have been closed and why only persons associated with a particular farm are allowed entry to that farm.

I have attended several workshops and seminars about this and have come to the conclusion that we need to be very careful about the attendance of visitors not only to our farms, but also to fairs. In this day and age of fast travel from one end of the earth to another, it is very possible for someone who has been traveling out of the USA to bring in this disease and then transmit it to livestock, if contact is made within 5 to 10 days of return to this country.

At the Estes Park Wool Market this past weekend they had taken the precaution of posting signs at the entrances to the grounds asking that visitors that have been out of the USA within the past 5 days, not visit the grounds at this time. Some farmers think that this is going overboard, but it seems appropriate to me at this time. In an area like Estes Park where there is such close proximity to large wildlife populations and as the disease spreads so quickly to all, it is only the least that can be done to protect not only livestock but the wildlife as well.

FMD is neither related to BSE (mad cow disease), nor scrapie in sheep and goats, nor chronic wasting disease in elk and deer. These other diseases are from totally different causes and move much more slowly through the animal population.

As FMD does not flourish so well in hot, dry climates we hope that it is not brought to the USA and that by the end of the summer it will be under control in all of Europe.

Speaking of hot and dry ... here is what the pastures are like after no rain in the past 5 weeks ...

Our Spring has come to an end. The pastures will not grow anymore this year.

Down the mountain there are irrigated grass fields and we will be feeding hay that we have hauled back up the mountain. In a good year, we would not have to do this until August. Looks like August came early this year. We wish it would rain at our house!!!

no rain for 5 weeks
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