ROAD’S END RANCH

2016 RECAP
calebthomasanderson@gmail.com 218-393-7677 1/9/2017

Happy 2017, If you are newish to our farm, I send this letter out each winter as a way to get you in touch with
where our beef and lamb comes from. That is, after all, a big part of what the “local foods,” idea is about. First
off, we are by all measures rookie farmers. We didn’t grow up with it, and we have only been at it on our own
since 2013. So, this is the story of starting from scratch...and many of the failures that go along with that.

The year began with a slough of tractor headaches. My old John Deere
3010 even got to make a trip to Grand Rapids for an engine overhaul by
the Cohasset Tractor Club, which is my favorite group of retired goofy
guys. The tractor came home and still was starved for fuel, refusing to
run properly. Months of trial and error passed only to find a dead mouse
in the fuel tank. Once removed, it’s been running like a top ever since.

April sprung with lambing and calving occurring simultaneously. Lambing
started strong as twins after twins were born...and then lambing stopped
after eleven of the nineteen ewes lambed. I was told by a neighbor sheep
farmer that some time a ram falls in love and quits his breeding business.
I’m going with that as an explanation and that ram found his way to the
freezer. So, that is two years in a row of bad lambing. The ewes did
come through lambing in better condition (more fat on their backs), than
the previous year, which is good.

Calving went well. We still purchase the bulk of our cows in the spring as
yearlings and finish them out. However, we did calve a couple more cows than last year. In general lambing and
calving has been a little trickier as I am now working in Pine City for my day job so I’m not able to check on
things as easily. This has however been greatly helped by our very generous retired neighbor that enjoys check-
ing for lambs, as well as my recently retired father who also likes the excitement of the new calves and lambs.

Summer progressed well. With 17 head of cows and 35 sheep we were appropriately stocked for the amount of
forage our pasture was able to produce. This is however, also fairly concerning as I hope to be able to continue
to add more animals. This will increase pressure on me to continue to improve the pastures for greater produc-
tivity. I have a plan for a few things that should make a big difference.

Our calves and butcher cows grew well this year, which was satisfying. However, our lambs did not. This was
true in 2015 as well. So this year I strategically held lambs one month longer and fed a little heavier grain ration
in the final months, which still yielded the same result as 2015. I am still trying to maintain a “mostly grass fed,”
flock so this is looking to not be possible. I have yet to decide whether to get rid of the whole bunch
and start afresh with different sheep genetics. Or to try some mid-season deworming on the lambs
with a heavier yet grain ration. I’m leaning towards the latter.
See Photos on Reverse
The highest point of the year was that we had a new child, Evelyn Jane, born in August.
She’s a sweetie. Also, walking the pastures to check animals has been fun as I can often
talk Celia into tagging along. She mostly likes to poke cow pies with sticks. Good stuff. Here
are some photos of highlights from the year. All things considered it was a good year.

Celia in a tutu chasing sheep into the sunset.

We gave our garage a complete rehab.

We got our farm practices water quality certified by
MN Dept. of Ag.

We had paper mill by-product wood ash and lime
delivered. At 6 tons/acre this will raise the soil pH and
micronutrient levels in the pastures.
New round bale feeder prohibits sheep from poop-
ing in hay. Reduces waste.