What has 48 legs, a wooly face, and baas in the morning? Our new lawn mower. It’s hard being a beginning farmer. You never know what you can do. Will the garden grow? When will it grow? Did I plant the right mix of veggies? The answer to that last one is a decided no, but I’ll deal with that later.
We have a couple of acres of field around the house. Scott, a neighbor, brush hogged them short earlier this year when they were waist high. But the grass pretty much never stops growing in the summertime. Add to that the plan to become bona fide sheep farmers. When you put the two together, it just made sense to borrow a few sheep for the summer.
It’s not easy to become a real sheep farmer. You can start with 5 or 10 sheep. But then you are really a bit of a hobby farmer. A real farmer needs to raise enough money from his or her crop (the lambs or wool – in this case, the lambs) to pay for the enterprise. Our goal is to cover the taxes for the farm, all of the animal feed, and the cost for hired help with the sale of the lambs. That can't be done with 5 sheep. But getting the 50 sheep that it takes is actually pretty scary. That’s a lot of sheep. You can’t just return them if it all gets too big for you. So we decided to run a small “test run”.
Mose, another neighbor, has a few sheep. But Mose is really an organic dairyman. At this time of year his pastures are drier and grass is at a premium for his heifers. So, a win-win situation was born. We use Mose' sheep to test run our shepherding skills and Mose gets his sheep pasture to graze his dairy calves.
The sheep are a Finn-Dorset cross. Folks that raise commercial sheep believe in hybrid vigor. There are five ewes and seven lambs. They are contained with our electric netting, which we move every 2 to 3 days. As we do this, they are doing a lovely job helping us to clean up the back pasture. We aren’t quite yet ready to get our official flock, but we are getting more confident. And…we love our lawn mowers.
In : Farm Life
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