Winter catch up

Our lives in farming are a little bit cyclical. Every winter we have meetings, paperwork to catch up on and we welcome new lambs in February and March. Seems simple, right?

Our farm meetings throughout the state and nation are designed to help us continuously learn about business trends, plus connect with other farmers and agricultural professionals. One of the reasons we keep our sheep outdoors is that it’s easy to feed them enough (hay bales rolled out on the ground) for us to be gone a few days in a row.

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Then there’s paperwork. We have industry publications that sometimes get ignored when we’re working outdoors in summer and autumn, so we catch up on some reading during winter. We also make sure our records are in order for our state’s voluntary environmental protection program or government programs we may be enrolled in. And we track all receipts that piled up so that our taxes can be filed on time.

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When we expect lambs, a few tasks get more intense. We have to shear the sheep a few weeks before they’re due (this is for their health and better wool quality). Shorn pregnant sheep then get moved into the barn (we don’t want lambs being born outside in a Michigan winter!) and they¬†get fed a different diet to get them ready for supporting lambs. If each sheep gives birth to two lambs, we end up having a lot of mouths to feed. I’ll share more about that later.

And every spring we plant fields into various forage mixes for a variety of “salads” for the sheep. So I’m off to do that…

Christmas list: wool products

A friend recently asked what I thought about someone’s reflection of why she won’t wear wool. I feel pretty fortunate to know firsthand what it takes to raise sheep with healthy lambs and wool year after year. And because of that, I will share with you what five wool items made my Christmas list this year – but first, a video from our farm so you can see for yourself the care we take for our sheep flock:

  1. Base layer tops and bottoms for doing chores in the cold
  2. Actually, add a balaclava on top – I don’t care that it is in the men’s section of this website, winter is bitter
  3. These pencil skirts for work
  4. As many sweaters as possible because, as previously mentioned, winter is bitter
  5. Socks for every occasion

“May the wool of your sheep be soft & warm,” as one of our wall hangings says.