Growing lambs

As we prepare for another season of winter lambs, I can’t help but reflect on my trip to sell healthy, full-grown spring lambs last week. It’s amazing that these animals turn our abundant – otherwise inedible to us – pastures into healthy meat for families like ours. Here’s a comparison of the same lamb when he was newly born to the time he was ready for harvest.

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In just a few months, our lambs grow to be about 120-160 pounds. We can’t keep them all, but we can provide care and attention for each animal on our farm.

Michigan is Auto

My news feed is blowing up with tweets and Facebook posts about the North American International Auto Show (follow #NAIAS for details). It’s remarkable that at a time of social unrest both nationally and internationally, we can come together peacefully to talk about cars. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, maybe because of the media trend, so I wrote a few thoughts down as to why #MichiganIsAuto:

Michigan is Auto because we believe. We believe in the power of innovation and technique. We believe that despite the downturn of economies, the act of wars and the hardships of weather, we will remain strong. We believe in creating products that meet customer needs, we believe our history helps us improve and we believe in working together to achieve our visions of greatness. Michigan is Auto because we use the strengths of individuals to believe in something bigger than ourselves.

So what does this all have to do with our farm? Henry Ford also wanted to make the work of small farmers easier with mass-produced tractors. So thankful for visionaries like that guy!

Taking down Christmas decor

This weekend we took down our Christmas tree. Every year on Christmas we joke about pitching the tree out the door as soon as gifts are opened. We had a neighbor out east who did that – basically before we had even eaten breakfast. But we enjoy our real tree every year from about 4 days before Christmas until after the new year. We spend a lot of time choosing the ornaments each year and reading old letters to Santa that our kids wrote, which we keep in the ornament boxes. Not surprisingly, we have a lot of sheep ornaments and a lot of ornaments that remind us of the love shared in our family.

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We enjoy sorting through the many sheep ornaments and ornaments that signify the many things we’re grateful for

A new year, a new generation

Every year, just as the last of the holiday cards are delivered to mailboxes, we meet with fellow shepherds to reflect on the last business year and look ahead to a new year.

The Michigan Sheep Breeders Association is an organization we’ve been involved with for many years. In a way, we’ve built our business alongside and because of these farmers. We’re truly grateful to come together each year to share ideas, hear from agricultural professionals and re-evaluate the goals of our farm.

This year it was especially exciting to have our youngest daughter attending the conference as a beginning farmer. Her interest in farming is a constant reminder to us that raising our children on our first-generation farm was – and continues to be – worth every tough day.

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One of the benefits to working hard every day is to see a young person have a spark of interest in agriculture.