mysunwolf - four acres and some sheep

mysunwolf

Herd Master
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
1,180
Reaction score
1,408
Points
313
Location
Southwest Virginia
I figured I should break down and start a journal, since I keep having the urge to post TMI in my lambing and other threads :p

My spouse and I have four acres, a home on it, and plenty of critters. We have dabbled and experimented with quite a few livestock breeds and are currently very pleased with our sheep, pigs, chickens, and rabbits. We also farm cats, but can't seem to make any sort of living off of it (not that we make a living from the other animals either). Every now and then, they bring me dead voles as a reminder of what real food is, and can I please switch them from that dry processed junk I put into their bowls every night to real food. The two pet dogs are here to be companionable, and they do a great job. In the future, I hope to have some LGDs living with the sheep.

I was quite the chicken lady for a few years, but after getting my first lambs I knew that sheep were really what I wanted to focus on. The pigs are pretty much here out of necessity, since they act as dispose-alls for any garden waste, kitchen waste, and butchering waste. The chickens share in this duty, and we try to run the incubator all spring through the fall in order to have replacement egg layers and meat birds. For market, we import Cornish X chicks and raise them up to butchering size, since customers can't be bothered with heritage-type chicken (not enough breast meat?! who likes white meat anyways?). We also raise a few rabbits for market. Chickens and rabbits are processed here on the farm, while pigs and sheep are taken to the slaughterhouse and come back boxed up in plastic packaging. We sell at the farmers market and try to make back a little bit of our feed costs... plus a little extra to expand the farm!

I'm not that great of a homesteader, but I figure we all do what we can. I grow a garden every year to try and have plenty of organic veggies, since they are so expensive in the store. We buy or trade with other farmers and homesteaders for most of what we need, but I buy a huge amount of staples and "exotic produce" from the grocery as well. I like to imagine that we could live off of what we produced (and we have in the past)... but why would I want to? We enjoy coffee, avocados, bananas, and cocoa a whole lot :D I dry my clothes in a dryer, have plenty of fridges and freezers for food storage, and am really working on producing our own dairy products, while discovering that we eat so much cheese/butter/yogurt/etc that I'm not sure I have time to make all of it! We have a gas generator and are really hoping for solar panels in our future, but waiting to see what the technology does in the next 5-10 years while we save up.

That's pretty much the farm side of things. More adventures to come ;)

DSC_9693.jpg
 

animalmom

Herd Master
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
1,732
Reaction score
1,731
Points
323
Location
North Central Texas
Love the picture! That little beastie is smiling. Such a great life. Will watch for the continuing adventures.
 

mysunwolf

Herd Master
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
1,180
Reaction score
1,408
Points
313
Location
Southwest Virginia
Thanks to you both :)

I sold a ram lamb from one of my favorite ewes on Friday, and have tried milking her the past few days afterwards. I still have to haul all 150lbs of her onto the milk stand, but once up there she puts her head right in the headgate. Then she sits very still and calm and eats her grain while I milk her. I think next year she is going to be fabulous on the stand.

Tonight was the first night I got a little drop of human grade milk :weee

DSC_9917.JPG
 

OneFineAcre

Herd Master
Joined
Dec 28, 2012
Messages
9,021
Reaction score
9,858
Points
583
Location
Zebulon, NC
Thanks for starting a journal
I read most of the journals even if I do not comment
I like to see the day to day activities
I think I learn more that way
 

mysunwolf

Herd Master
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
1,180
Reaction score
1,408
Points
313
Location
Southwest Virginia
@OneFineAcre I read through the journals too, mostly to see what everyone else is up to, but I do end up learning quite a bit! Much more through the daily narratives than when someone just states facts.

I've got to take more lay-o-the-land pictures, they are most useful in a year or more when I look back on them and remember how much work has been done. We have owned our land for less than 3 years and have experimented a lot in that time with different animals, plants, and management styles.

This is one of those photos:
DSC_9992.JPG

It shows how the pig pens cut into the rolling green. It shows how huge our shade trees have become. And it shows how lovely the scenery is, of course. Here's what the pigs are up to when you get closer.
DSC_9971.JPG DSC_0004.JPG
 

mysunwolf

Herd Master
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
1,180
Reaction score
1,408
Points
313
Location
Southwest Virginia
I'm just going to post a bunch of photos :p

We grew some winter wheat this year, either for us or the chickens depending on if we have bugs or mold. But so far it looks beautiful and tastes delicious. Not as much work as you might think to do the growing, harvesting, drying, threshing, etc.
DSC_0017.JPG

More photos of our new dairy sheep ewes, 70% East Friesian. I asked the breeder for black hooves since my 70% EF ram has nightmare hooves but excellent growth, wool, and parasite resistance. These girls have black hooves (excellent for resisting trimming and rot), okay parasite resistance, good growth, and very nice wool. I think we will be making some very nice lambs in spring 2016! The girls also have St. Croix and Navajo-Churro crossed in back in the line (see the elf ears?) to help with hardiness, and St. Croix helps with their year-round breeding ability.
DSC_9976.JPG
DSC_9978.JPG

On the Katahdin front, my ram produced some excellent offspring. We are retaining both ewe lambs after all as they are just too beautiful to sell for now. In the future, we will certainly be scaling back on the Katahdins and trying to just focus on the dairy sheep.

Helena's ewe lamb is the nicer one. I really really like the hips, straight backs, and solid bodies on the two girls.
DSC_9991.JPG

Spotty's ewe lamb is more of a cull, but thanks to the ram is at least one step up from Spotty and her short body, susceptibility to illness, and curved back. And you can see she's got some great hips as well.
DSC_9997.JPG
 

mysunwolf

Herd Master
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
1,180
Reaction score
1,408
Points
313
Location
Southwest Virginia
132 Cornish X peeps arrived this week:
DSC_0050.JPG

The 19 peeps that I hatched from the incubator were actually glad to see 132 new friends:
DSC_0029.jpg

One of the three pens of Cornish that are already out on pasture:
DSC_0030.JPG

Photos from the backyard flock grow-outs:
DSC_0036.JPG DSC_0037.jpg DSC_0041.JPG

Letting the sheep out of the barnyard and leading them to the far field for the day:
DSC_0032.jpg DSC_0033.JPG
 

Latest posts

Top