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Posts Tagged ‘homesteading’

Today we finished our notebook calendar to Scott.  We wrote in a page a day for the time we’re gone, with a couple of guest writers (alright, alright, all Excursioneers).  Tidbits about how much we’ll miss him, where we suspect we’ll be along the trail on a given day, how many days ’til we see him again.  Some love notes.  Some chit chat.  You know, stuff like that.

We posted up the Farm Chore list in a few places for all of the wonderful folks who will be running the place so that we can be away.  We walked through everything with them all this past week, including how to properly use the new milk machine.  Yes, I said it: The new milk machine!

A lovely friend had a crusty, dirty, worn out little machine that she knew little about other than it being a supposed milk machine.  She offered it to us with the warning that it may be worthless and broken.  I did a bit of Googling and YouTubing, and was able to figure out the model of Hoegger Milking System, and how to take the entire thing apart for maintenance and repair.  I spent a few solid hours cleaning it up, hoping that it’d be fruitful in the end.  I got online and ordered $150 in parts that I knew it needed, gambling it would be a good investment.  And then we waited.

It felt like forever.

putting it all back together

Then the package arrived!  We went to work on it again, and got a final thumbs up from our friend who looked it over a bit with me, whose Dad is a machinist – and flipped the switch.  It fired right up and pulsated like a champ at the perfect pressure!  The girls didn’t even flinch when we tried it out on them that evening.  They really have settled into being the loveliest homestead milkers.

Not only was this roughed up little machine a milker, but was the perfect one for us.  It was a model designed for one to two goats (the company sells sheep adapters), but powerful enough to run a small dairy.  And it’s made right here in the U.S.A.  We never would have purchased one new – being content with hand milking (in fact, we can do it as fast as the milk machine if it’s doing one at a time), and knowing good ones like this one were much more than we wanted to pay for the convenience.  But what a gift (and a lot of elbow grease!  I felt like a rockstar fixing it.).  This will be perfect for Scott.  I knew it’d just be way dreamy for him.  But I was afraid it’d be a dud so left it a surprise.  He’s used it a couple of times now, gearing up for being the primary milker here on the farm for most of the time we’re gone – and has said what a breeze it’ll be now compared to the especially harder task morning and evening he was anticipating (and never did complain of!).  This should shave off an hour time off of his day.  And keeps it all the more easy for friends who will cover for him while he’s traveling to/with us, and as we may need a helper now and then in the future.

clickity clack! there she goes!

So here we are, wrapping things up, knowing the farm has been very tidied up for our leave.  All laundry is washed.  Rooms are clean.  RV is packed.  Just like that: It’s time.  Off we go!

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With all of this silly red cup nonsense going around, a great discussion came out of the zillions of posts that I didn’t bother reading.  A friend made the stronger argument that she could care less about the red cup itself, but that there are several other larger reasons why their family doesn’t support the folks who started the red cup movement (if you will).

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start if you want to make a difference with your dollar.  It’s easy to start feeling the struggle of wanting to remove support for most companies if we pick them apart to meet our standards.

Ultimately, tho’, we can’t boycott everything, especially things like, say, a grocery store… Or can we?  Below I’ve listed the places that we usually supply our family’s food needs (disclaimer: we have definitely slacked on in the last year and a half big time).  Because they are not all viable for you to put on your own table (tho’ we do sell many of the things we produce), I will follow up with a list of farms that you can purchase similar products from.

Meats

Our pork, chicken, duck, goose come from our homestead.  Salmon & tuna from fisherman out of Astoria, as well as some friends & family, when we’re so lucky.  We buy beef “on the hoof” from friends who raise beef.  We’ve always bought rabbit from our good friend up north, but will need to find someone else when we need more as he has moved.

Dairy & Eggs

We milked 2 of our ewes for 7 months last year (more next).  They supply us with enough milk during those months.  We sacrifice only enough freezer space for an additional month of milk.  We made our cultured dairy when our girls were “fresh”, including ricotta, mozarella, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, and feta to last us a year.  Our poultry lay enough for us to enjoy quail, duck, goose & chicken eggs most of the year, otherwise we buy from friends.  We buy cheddar & butter in bulk through a cooperative group that works together locally.

Vegetables & Fruits & Berries

In the past, we grew a lot ourselves and preserved for winter.  We heavily supplement with other local farmers’ goods, as well as nearby small markets.  We also forage for many greens.  This is one area that I anticipate doing better with next year since we’ve fallen a little off the wagon since last spring.  We buy many varieties of mushrooms straight from wild foragers.  We pick a lot of our fruits & berries nearby.  But never enough.

Grains & Legumes

We purchase most of our grains & legumes from Washington & Oregon farmers, both directly and cooperatively.  We make bread, but also purchase from local bakeries (and on the fly from the grocer or outlet).  We make noodles, but like different kinds that we haven’t mastered.  Hey!  Did you read my recent post about turning cattail into flour?!

Oils

We use a lot of butter & lard.
We purchase our coconut oil from a small company online in 5 gallon buckets.

Sweeteners

We grow minimal amounts of stevia.  We purchase local raw honey by the gallon from our dear friends that are beekeepers.  We buy maple syrup by the 6-gallon bucket from a third generational farmer in Maine.  We do purchase cane sugars still.

Coffee & Tea & Spices

We blend our own teas from wild-foraged, locally grown, or ingredients from a company in Oregon that carefully source their items.  We also obtain most of our dried herbs & spices from there.  Our fresh herbs from ours and others’ gardens.  We buy green or already-roasted coffee beans in bulk from a company in Portland, the owner who works diligently to buy directly (travels) from farmers who are using high quality practices both for the production, and the labor of their coffee.  More often than not, we’ll buy bag by bag from stands because we don’t make it into Portland for this purchase often, etc.  Over the years, we have bought several bags from a girlfriend who has a coffee tree in her back yard in Battle Ground!

Beverages

We make kombucha, water kefir… and are on a decent binge of making a lot of homemade (medicinal – with herbs – like root beer & rosehip!) sodas.  We have a plethora of locally wineries to patronize if we are needing most types of spirits.  In reality, our family mostly drinks water and tea when there’s not fresh milk (our #1 when there is!).

*****

These are the things we have have struggled to get away from a big box store (tho’ some can be purchased through cooperatives, we just haven’t well): juice, tortillas, favorite cold cereals, nuts, off/distant season veggies, chips, chartucherie, chocolate, shapely noodles…  I’m sure I’m missing several items, as we tend to drop into a grocer weekly for “needs.”  Tho’ in reality, we could easily eat off of our regional production most of the year.  It just might not look like we all have come to expect.  It’s where people go wrong when they argue there’s “not enough food” to sustain everyone.  Perhaps not the way you’ve been accustomed to.  But perhaps in a much healthier way (seasonally, wild, etc).  Chew on that.

I think the most important part is moderation.  In theory, we do the best we can do, but not at the expense of our marbles, our family, or God.  We eat fast food sometimes.  We love white bread and sugar.  We don’t judge others.  But we also know what’s better.  And try to make consistent and decent choices most of the time.

To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin.  James 4:17

Ultimately, though, as a friend said – and I agree with completely – “I believe God will call us to account for our stewardship of His resources.”  That could go for a lot of areas of our life – not just our bodies – and is the reason we farm/live the way we do.  Leave everything better than you started with it.

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Why Sheep?

twins!

twins!

Over a decade ago, we bought the first two dairy Jersey cows that made it to our old farm from a commercial dairy, excellent candidates for homestead milkers.  Later a few more joined the herd in a cooperative dairy, owned and managed by several dozen families, operated by my folks.  We were primarily a pseudo (unpaid) marketer, a financial investor, and consumers.  We did assist on some veterinary services provided by our favorite vet (Jack), as well as milked Quince (jersey family cow) after the cow dairy ceased.  Cow milk was the best.

Over the years that followed, several events changed the course of my folks’ dairy.  When an opportunity presented itself, they bought a herd of dairy goats from a creamery in Battle Ground that was going out of business (thanks to the widening and imminent domain takings for highway 502).

The cows phased out, and goats reined triumphant.  Their darling floppy ears and two-teated udders were so attractive.  The fact that they consumed a fraction of what a cow does, produces milk that is more digestible to infants (and adults, if we’re being honest), and do not create the mud pit in the winter that cows do, it sounded like a dream.

In the springtime, I excitedly assisted births.  Growing up, I always wanted to be a midwife.  But liability kept me focusing on other great adventures revolving around birthing and beyond.  The experience I gained helping Mama goats birth was invaluable.

But they ruled the land.  Before I knew what happened, they lived my life – eating my food (garden), and leisured at my home (backyard, decks, etc).  They were loud.  They attracted flies.  Armies of them.  In every nook of our home.  We couldn’t breathe.  The boys smelled putrid.  Goats were everywhere.  They were taking over.

Despite setting some boundaries and putting up fences, there was still fresh goat manure surprises daily.  I don’t miss that.  I also don’t miss not being able to plant beautiful and edible landscaping in and around my house and yards unafraid.  Or to garden and grow our own food again – now with the only risk being an act of nature, or my own error.

In 2012, my oldest youngest (ha!) sister started a small flock of 3 dairy sheep, expanding in numbers over time, hoping to provide milk to my folks’ creamery as her own agriculture entrepreneur development and investment into the future.  It was fun having them around.  They felt so much more… green.  I see rolling pastures of vibrant grass.  I hear a New Zealand accent.  Ha!  They were fluffy.  The ram was definitely naughty, and the girls were particularly skiddish… AND their teats were shorter (than goats/cows, tho’ similar to Nigerian Dwarfs’).  But they smelled fabulous, like lanolin.  They were great to watch.  Their milk was incredibly thick and scrumptious, not “goaty” or gamey at all.  They almost met my cow milk fix.  They far exceeded it in creaminess.

When we moved onto our new farm last Spring, we talked about getting a cow, but struggled with the commitment to the time, management, and land abuse a cow could incur.  We didn’t want goats.  So it was obvious what to do.  We missed good milk.

Our main purpose to reincorporate sheep now was to have fresh milk again in the best homestead kind of way possible for our family. As much as we’d want a Jersey cow, the sheep made sense (vs. goats as well) for a LOT more reasons:

  1. sheep milk has smaller fat molecules making it more digestible for humans/babies, as well as those who may have dairy sensitivities (similar to goat milk in this area).
  2. sheep are MUCH lighter on the land, and since these pastures are being built, they will assist instead of take from that. And they work for us – clearing areas of brambles/etc, as wanted. They eat less, and are easy to provide vet, breeding and butchering services for.  They utilize hillsides, and forests, too – where cows need more pasture. (similar to goats)
  3. sheep milk is higher in butterfat than goats or cows, so… yeah! Creamier, more cheese, more good brain-building fats, sweeter…
  4. sheep offer a more productive turnover of byproduct in the sense that we can keep ram lambs for fall meat, wool for filler or spinning, and – obviously – milk for all sorts of awesome.

There is also something very warm about being a “shepherd” vs. a “herdsman” or “rancher”.  With so many references and correlations to the Bible to shepherding, it constantly reminds me how much I need to keep responsible stewardship a priority with not only our animals, land, and resources, but our wee family.

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; – Acts 20:28-29

For He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice… – Ps. 95:7

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. – Lk. 12:32

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. – Is. 40:11

So that’s what we’re thinking!  Sheep aren’t new to us, as they are actually very similar to goats in care – but are much more docile and smell & taste (milk and meat) excellent in comparison to goats IMO!  Goats aren’t really my cuppa at all.  I feel bad.  Maybe it was just the experience.  But I’m not sure I’m game for going down that road again.  Especially because there are sheep in the world.

from Mad Millie

from Mad Millie

Sheep milk produces the highest yield of cheese, almost 2.5 times that of a cow or goat. That means if I’d get a cup of cheese from a quart of cow/goat milk, I’d get two and a half cups with sheep milk!

Making more cheese on the farm today with sweet, nutty sheep milk!

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Here’s what we’ve got in our Sheep Medicine Cabinet.  This post will be updated from time to time.  If you have questions, send them my way and I’ll add information, as necessary.

Some items I did not have to purchase, as we have farmer friends we split with, etc…  But I wanted this to depict what it’d cost to start up, rather than our actual cost (which I’ve noted elsewhere).

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, $6/gallon through Azure Standard

We slosh in about a tablespoon-ish into each gallon of fresh water that our sheep get each day.  They have two waterers; one with ACV, one without.  The vinegar is full of enzymes and minerals, it reduces their parasite (worm) load, improves wool quality, reduces mortality rate of the lambs at birth, may contribute to tastier meat… and some even say you’ll increase your chances of ewe lambs!  It increases your flocks overall health.

Blackstrap unsulphured molasses, $13/gallon through Azure Standard

Molasses is high in magnesium and other vitamins.  It has a high level of metabolizable energy and sugar that is readily digested.  It is a very low cost way to reduce twin lamb disease, reduce potential of pregnancy toxemia, and can assist you with ketosis in your lambs after birth.  Also an excellent way to mask unappetizing supplements you want your sheep to consume!

For practical use, we often drizzle some on the ewes daily grain ration, which they receive late-pregnancy and during lactation, and from time to time to coax around.  We add it to warm water during labor and after birth for the Mama and lambs.

Arnica, 200c tablets, $10 through Amazon

Use Arnica for the shock that accompanies injury or trauma, overstrain or bruising.  Arnica prevents the development of bruises and hemorrhages, hastens healing and can prevent septic infections from occurring after an injury.  It can calm an animal fearing to be touched or being approached (mental trauma or grief).  We only use this when necessary.

Ascorbic Acid (vitamin c) crystals, $15/lb at Amazon

BO-SE or Selenium E gel, $9/tube of gel at local feed store

You can find tubes of Selenium E gel at your local feed store, which is orally given.  You must have get BO-SE through a veterinarian.

In our neck of the woods, there is a clear selenium deficiency – which leads to white muscle disease in sheep, especially lambs.  You’ll want to supplement your bred ewes by injection or gel 4 weeks pre-lambing.  Given to lambs suffering from WMD, you should see results and return to full mobility in 2-3 days of injection.  Selenium is always given with Vitamin e (included).

Cod Liver Oil & Seaweed drench, $35 through Green Pasture, seaweed through Mountain Rose Herb

Dolomite powder$4/lb. through Amazon

Dolomite powder is an additive (and can be used as a supplement, if needed) that has multiple uses such as an antidote for copper poisoning (one teaspoonful given orally), an essential supply of calcium and magnesium for healthy bones and teeth, and as a preventative of mastitis as well as numerous other mineral deficiency based conditions.   Too much, however, can be a detriment, so be cautious with your use.

Nutri-drench, $15/8oz. at the local feed store

Generally you use a nutri drench when an animal is in quick need of a boost.  It’s basically a good way to get fast calories and energy into a weak or sick animal.  It also has some electrolytes, vitamins and minerals.

A lot of farmers make this own, some with propylene glycol, molasses products, and calcium carbonate.  Another recipe calls for equal parts corn syrup, corn oil and molasses.  When I find a recipe I feel comfortable with the ingredients of, I’ll share it here.  Meanwhile, I have a bottle of brand name Nutri-Drench on hand for emergency use if I don’t come up with something sooner.

Probiotic paste (Pro Bios), $10 for a tube at local feed store

Probiotics stimulate appetite, and restore friendly bacteria in the intestines aiding in digestition, in turn, supporting the immune system and encouraging health.

This can be used following any stressful situation including transporting, diet change, birth, treatment or illness, etc…

Blood Stop Powder, $6/lb at Hoeggers Supply Company (not herbal)

When you are hoof trimming or shearing (or run into any other injuries) or disbudding if you’re sheep aren’t polled, sometimes you’ll have a bleeder.  An over-the-counter variety or herbal powder (recipe coming shortly) applied helps stop it quickly and effectively.  There are natural things you could use as well (spiderwebs, for one!), but this is for the ’emergency’ kit more than something you’ll use regularly.

Herbal Dewormer, $12/lb my cost in supplies from Mountain Rose Herbs ($59/lb at local feed store!)

Consider making your own herbal dewormer (even make candy out of them for your critters).  Note how expensive it is to buy, and what you will find on the shelf of a market is often not as good quality as you can make yourself anyway.  A lot of green, leafy herbs should not be stored in direct light, or in warmer areas – and so, assuming the herbs were fresh to start with – they are going to lose quality the longer they sit in a warehouse, in a truck, and/or on a shelf in a store.

There are a lot of great online resources and recipes.  One of my favorites:

equal parts of: wormwood, mugwort, pumpkin seeds.  Throw in about a quarter part black walnut hull and garlic.  Other things you could add: ginger, cayenne, thyme.  This you can use on most livestock (not horses, as black walnut hull is a no-no for them).  I make this in large portions, and sell it.  If you are interested in purchasing, contact me directly.  I can ship within the U.S.

We give (1 tablespoon a day per 50lbs of sheep) of our herbal wormer to our mature sheep, generally adding it into their grain mix.  You can also mix it with molasses and roll into balls to give it in a tasty “pill form”.  Every three weeks or so, we shake it up and add a quarter-part ginger and eight-part of cayenne for several days in a row.  This will wake up their system, which will help rid of excess or different types of parasites.

Ivermectin$28/small drench at local feed store

We live in a rather wet climate.  This can contribute to a common problem in most animals (and humans!): parasites.  If you are not effectively using an herbal dewormer (which we have successful been doing), ivermectin will act fast.  We have purchased an injectable form of ivermectin, but would only give it orally (on their grains, etc).  This way it does it’s job, and gets out fast.  Using it subcutaneously (just under the skin) or intramuscular (in the muscle), the chemical will stay in the animals system (and your milk/meat) longer.  Your local farm store will also likely sell an Ivermectin Sheep Drench.

IP Dexterose gear, $ at local feed store

From sheepscreek.com: “If you find an older lamb (4-6 hours old or more) hunched and cold, the hypothermia may be caused by starvation, as the brown fat reserves around the kidneys are depleted and the blood sugar level drops too low to generate adequate body heat. The usual treatment to `restart’ these older lambs is to inject IP (intra peritoneal) dextrose. Generally 5cc of 20% dextrose is recommended per pound; 40cc is about right for most lambs. Most agricultural and vet suppliers carry 50% dextrose which can be diluted 50:50 with sterile or boiled distilled water. Restrain the lamb by holding the rear legs and pinching the pelvis between your knees, and inject the warmed solution with a 20 ga. 1-inch needle at a site 1-inch beside and 1-inch behind the naval. Aim the needle toward the opposite hip. The solution should inject easily and not create a bubble under the skin. The body wall is a little over half the depth of the needle. (Caution: if the lamb is jumping around, it probably doesn’t need IP dextrose, and in all cases use careful sterile procedures to avoid peritonitis.)”

Below is an excellent video showing you exactly how to inject your lamb.  The great accent is icing on the cake.

A commercial dairyman that I am friends with said that this is her #1 recommendation for a lambing medicine kit, as it saves more lambs than any other treatment they’ve needed.  That said, in a small, homestead arrangement, it’s easier to be near and on top of birthing and newborn lamb care, so won’t run into this quite as often as the herdsman who has hundreds of sheep ranging.

CMPK Drench or Gel, $13 at local feed store

Injectable Vitamin B Complex, $7 at local feed store

Hoof & Heal, $10 at local feed store

Another common thing we deal with in the Pacific Northwest is hoof rot.  It’s when your animals hooves start – literally – rotting.  Be sure to keep them trimmed up nicely, have a dry place to hang out (a covered pen inside a pasture, lots of bedding, etc) along with their pasture, which may be far from grassy and fabulous during a few months of the year.  If you find an infected or rotted spot on their hoof, it’s important to treat it.  You can cut it out (as carefully as possible), then apply Hoof & Heal, or another variety of hoof help.

Tetanus immunoglobulin & toxoid, $30 for both at local feed store

A lot of folks around area will use CDT or an eight-way vaccine for their sheep.  Some only do tetanus.  It’s up to you, really.  If you’re using the CDT, use it subcutaneously 4 weeks before lambing.  This will give the Mama and lambs protection.  Then give the lambs another dose closer to <> weeks old.  Repeat the next lambing season.

If you’re using only tetanus, use the same schedule.  The immunoglobulin is helpful if one of your critters gets a wound that could potentially become infected with tetanus, and you are unsure if they are protected with a vaccine.  It is a short-term protection, and should be accompanied with the toxoid/vaccine itself which will activate and guard against for the long term.

Variety sized needles, gauze and cloths$10, give or take, all found at local feed store

We tend to use a 3/4″ 20 gauge most often.  Different medications recommend different sizes.  Check your bottles.

Iodine concentrate, $7/pint through Hoeggers

You’ll use this for a variety of things.  Particularly, dunking sweet little babies clipped umbilical cords to prevent infection.

6% hydrogen peroxide$4 at local drug store

Use on hoof rot in a spray bottle.  Use for cleaning wounds or infections, etc…

Hey, while I’ve got you, check out this e-book you can sift through and search in: Natural Remedies for Sheep Health, by Mark Gilbert.  I’d definitely recommend it!  It has recipes and herbal recommendations for a variety of sheep ailments.  Of course, I have a few favorite books about naturally raising sheep, all listed here.

It looks like the total for this Shepherd’s Medicine Cabinet is upwards of about $225, give or take.  This will get you on your feet, and off to a rather long start with your sheep!  It’s a cheap price to pay to insure the health and emergency care you can invest into your animal vs. the potential vet bills incurred.

There will be times you’ll need to utilize your vet.  Find one in your area that can work with large animals.  Build a relationship.  They will be a wonderful resource and help in the years to come.

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our dairy

our dairy

Our sheep are for our homestead (click here for “Why Sheep?“), not for commercial purposes.  So we’re keeping close tabs on the “cost” to have them in our grocery budget, all-inclusive.  While investing in the best for them, we are also hoping to keep our expenses reasonable.  Obviously, the up front costs are going to add up a bit, but we want a TRUE and honest picture of how much our family’s dairy (& some meat and fiber) will cost.  Yes, the experience and health benefits are priceless, but we want to make sure that we have an “account”ability structure set up that keeps us using our heads, not just putting out.

It’s so easy to lose track of costs when you raise animals.  And to not conscientiously make decisions on your output in the thick of the season.  We are hoping that our limited production will assist in us putting an even better effort toward maintaining supreme husbandry and management practices.

I’m hoping to use this post as a central location for all of our dairying research.  I will update it with links in bold to additional information on individual subjects as we go!

Here’s what our Livestock Medicine Cabinet looks like, complete with start up cost, etc…

Remember, this is our go-to cabinet.  We also have tinctures and herbs at arms reach for many other livestock purposes, but we wanted to single out these items for easy accessibility, as well as emergency needs, if/as they arise.  Some may never be used, or rarely.  Some items, as for us humans, are both medicinal and nutritional, the last two items on the list seeping into their daily maintenance, and not only used “as needed.”  Which leads me into sharing what we have on-hand for the day to day (depending on age/stage of lactation/etc):

Roughage (be it legume or grass hay or alfalfa)
Fodder
Grain Mix – organic heirloom farro, oats, barley, non-GMO corn, black oil sunflower seeds
Kelp, Himalayan Sea Salt, Minerals

 

 

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pre-roof upcycled feeder

And a few supplies I have picked up for them:

halters & leads
Pritchard nipples & bottles
bells
hoof trimmers

Yeesh.  When I write it all out, it seems like a lot.  Especially when I’m going to put the 3 new lines of fencing on the “sheep” column of the register that will be used for them exclusively ($600 for 492 feet of electric netting – my fave).  Again, many of these expenses will not be recurring or often.  Some will be shared to other livestock.

Our stanchion is being build with pallets, which we get free with our deliveries of feed.  We’d looked into buying one, but none were exactly what we were looking for – and none were free.  So we’ve customized a double stanchion to work for these sweet ladies out of scrap supplies we had on hand.  I’ll post pictures shortly.

Now, to work on a calendar so we can stay on task.  For clutching/shearing, trimming hooves, worming, moving pastures, adjusting feed, breeding/lambing (info on feeding lambs here), etc.  Coming soon.

I may sound like I know what I’m talking about, but I don’t.  My younger sister Emilee bought a flock of sheep neighboring the old farm for couple years, but I knew very little of their management, and they weren’t big producers as she was building the flock at the time and was learning by trial and error.  Obviously, they are similar to goats, which I spent more time learning and working with (my folks ran a commercial diary operation that we were heavily involved in for many years).  Here are the reasons why we chose sheep instead of another dairy animal.  I’m leaning on a bit of my sisters knowledge to help us out, and a few of my favorite books:

Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Natural Sheep Care by Pat Coleby
Raising Sheep the Modern Way by Paula Simmons
The Backyard Sheep by Sue Weaver
Natural Remedies for Sheep Health by Mark Gilbert (ebook here)

one of my faves

one of my faves

I’m also leaning heavily on the knowledge of experienced homestead dairy sheep owners via an online group – and have found our shearer to be an abundance of knowledge and help as well!

Another super awesome homeschool opportunity.  Adyn is heading up this project, and is proving to be quite the shepherd!

 

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a different day celebrating a shared home

celebrating a shared home (photo added of a late April bday)

Today we are honored.  We are humbled.  And we are thankful.  

There are children running around everywhere, finding Easter treasures in and around the farm.

Youth are mingling in and around the house.  Adults conversing about life.  Babies being passed around.

Our home is full.

I couldn’t help but stand back and watch it all play out.  And it reminded me with a skip of a heartbeat

THIS IS NOT MY HOME

What a huge and immense joy that is to know and to burrow into the comfort of.  With all of my yearning and striving, finding this place of peace is such a blessing.  Now to cherish these moments, and hold them in my heart for the seasons to come.

We are thankful for a place that we can share.  Where we can fully realize that it is not, indeed, our own.  That we have such an opportunity to serve and give is an answer to prayer!

Around the bonfire this evening, Doug shared the parable of talents.  There were three men.  The first was given 10,000, and invested, doubling his income.  The second was given a lesser amount, also invested, and doubled his loot.  The third was given a yet smaller amount, and buried it, gaining nothing.

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This land is not yours, or forever.  For you are strangers and sojourners with me. – Leviticus 25:23

This is a dramatic change from the Summer of ol’.  I am a very sentimental person, and have many attachments to things.  Where I still do, I’ve had to learn the hard lesson (over and over) of letting go.  Most recently, moving from what we thought was our forever farm.  We were heart broken (and scared!) to feel the permanent loss of a dream.  We are ever-grateful for God’s perpetual provision and blessing and reminder that He desires even Better things than we can “plan” for us sometimes.  And we are always always reminded that though our dreams may change, our forever Home will always be the same.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. – Hebrew 13:14

As we are faced with changes ahead, and with the reminder of the men with talents to invest, we will face decisions very soon.  Hoping to possibly profit from the old farm (perhaps not – we bought at the height of the market), we want to be sure to be good stewards with what we are given, hopefully profiting it instead of ‘burying’ it in our desire for stability and comfort.

Meanwhile, we are thankful for where we are, and that we have been given the opportunity to live out what we have always longed for: An open home and farm life for our family.  We do not believe things of this earth are ours to hold on to, but to share and give.  We have not had the ability to live this part of our life out very fully until now, for which we are immeasurably thankful for.  We hope we invest (in every area of our life) what we’ve been given wisely instead of hoarding.  Because it’s not ours, after all.

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If you’re not familiar with it, herbalism has been under a bit of attack because of something dubbed “Fire Cider”.  Google it.  Basically, there is a mini war going on about whether or not more than one person can use the recipe with the name – and market it.  Meanwhile, it seems those in power would like nothing more than to control all things, including self-sufficiency (specific focus: herbs) and money.  The fight at hand makes me sick.  Maybe it’s because I’m reading One Second After, and am reminded why we should all have complete access to traditional skills.  Ones our grandmothers grandmothers grandmothers knew as common sense.

Nature hunt on the Zumstein Farm

“Untouched” wild remedies & foods on a nature hunt at the Zumstein Farm

“The fact is we all need money to survive. Earning that money while demonstrating respect for the whole circle of life, including each other, is the challenge and the guideline. We all want to do our work freely and honorably. We want to protect our work and our investments while being fair, honest, upright and ethical. We want to respect our traditions. What I’ve noticed is that these words can mean different things to different people and we are all still learning.” – quote from Gail Faith Edwards from her awesome blog post that I’d highly encourage you all to read.  It is a wonderfully written post on trademarks and integrity; mixing heart and business.  I adored the genuine love shared through it, and thought it really put a lot into perspective.

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I thought the above paragraph excellent, capturing my thoughts well for a blog I’ve been working on called “Transparency”, started 2 years ago.  I thought I had published it, but apparently it’s in the dark dusty corner of the Draft file.  It has some transforming to do before I publish.  Or maybe in some ways this (and the blog mentioned) is enough, and is written more perfectly than I could ever babble on about.

The entry I had started was about farmers who go mad for money, and lose all touch with the truth of real life living and integrity of working with the earth.  Unfortunately, the trend of agriculture has led to a rising of sketchy reputations in a trade (farming) that usually means more.  But no need to fret, truth always wins.  And when it boils down to it, we’re all in this together.  Whether or not it’s known or appreciated yet by all.

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hickory dickory dock

Finding the balance between the healing work and the business, between the desire to serve and the need to earn a buck, these are real life considerations; this is the challenge…one foot in front of the other.” – Gail Faith Edwards

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