Friday, December 07, 2007


Here's our new Shetland ram named Dakota. We are happy with Shetland sheep, they are hardy, small and easy to keep. So we thought it would be nice to develop a flock of these pleasant little sheep. Since we only had ewes it was necessary to find an unrelated male. We found a breeder down by Stevens Point who happened to have an available male for sale and it worked out that we were able to drive down and pick him up. We transported Dakota in our pickup truck. The one we use for our trash business. It has a wooden box on the back which encloses the 8' bed. Kind of like a tall rustic looking camper. I see landscape trucks running around that look similar to what we have. Anyway, we put Dakota in there for the trip home and I screwed a piece of plywood across the back to keep him from jumping out. Shetlands are nimble and can jump very well.

During our drive home Dakota began ramming the back of the truck over and over. He wasn't happy about being cooped up back there. I pulled over to make sure he wasn't hurting himself or undoing any of my wood work. I then realized the thing he was ramming repeatedly was the tail gate. Now, the latches on our GMC truck aren't the best and I became afraid that he might actually knock the thing open and get splattered on the highway. He was banging the tail gate with surprising force for such a small animal. So I took my cordless drill and readjusted the plywood so that it extended down about 6 inches onto the gate. With plenty of screws I was confident he could not open it up no matter how hard he rammed.

Dakota adapted immediately and fit right in being the only feller. Here he is right at home with his new family. We were glad that the ewes excepted him so well. No chasing or scrapping. No fuss at all.

For a change we have gotten some pretty good animals here. In the past we often got peoples cast offs. Animals that didn't fit in with their programs. Having some kind of undesirable trait, that's why they were "getting rid" of them. Watch out for animals that people are getting rid of. You can wind up with quite the motley crew to be sure. Actually in this bottom picture the sheep on the far right is our our Navajo Churro. She is a cast off. Someone traded her to us for a couple of ducks. They were going to give her to us but, I didn't feel right just taking her so I proposed the trade to make it more fair.

She is a nice animal except there is something strange about her legs. They don't seem to hold her weight that well. Like they are a little misshaped or something. I suspect that might be why they "got rid" of her.

Once we build up our flock we plan to incorporate sheep into our food supply. The farm we originally got our ewes from bred them strictly for meat. The people pretty much lived on them, we assume. Also our daughter is getting more into spinning and I'm hoping she will take it upon herself to get a little specialty yarn business going. The lady we got Dakota from is into the specialty yarn market in a big way. She has wool that she sells for $25 a pound.

When we first moved here we wanted to get into goats. My cousins in TN raise goats so I was sold on their versatility. With the goats we have had, we didn't really care for their personalities. They seemed a little bossy and demanding. Somewhat mischievous. The sheep seem a little more mild mannered to us and we really like these Shetlands. Even the sheep we had before, we liked better than the goats.

However in a survival situation I think goats would be valuable. If for nothing else, then for the milk. I know people are milking sheep these days but, even if I was hungry I think I'd have a hard time drinking sheep milk. It's psychological I reckon. But, with goats you have milk and meat. There's alot of good stuff in milk and everyone says goat milk is easier to digest than cow milk. One of the things we didn't care for with the goat milk though was the occasional off taste, that "goaty" taste. But there are a number of variables that can contribute to that. It's possible to prevent it.

Winter is upon us here in the North Woods. Already had a major snow storm and temps got down in the teens below freezing the other night. Set a record I guess. Must be global warming, eh? Does look like we're going to have a white Christmas here. There's been snow here for Christmas every year since we've been here, even if just a little. My family and I all like to have snow to get in the right mood for the holidays.

For us, we spend alot of family time and share alot of meals. Starts at Thanksgiving and seems to continues right on to New Years. My birthday is on the 6th of December and our anniversary is on the 8th so there's a couple more excuses to do some more eating. Kelli and I will be married 23 years tomorrow. Been eating so much I had to let my belt out a notch this season.

One thing I've noticed since living here in a colder climate and spending more time outdoors is that my appetite always picks up in the cooler weather just like it does with the animals. Problem is, when the warm weather gets here I never seem to lose that winter fat build up. I gained tens pounds a year the first 4 years we lived here. At least I pretty much stopped at 4o lbs. and have maintained that without continuing to gain. I'd kind of like to lose about half of that before I get too much older. Didn't want to go into my forties being over weight but, here I am already 44.

Speaking of getting older the tree in this last picture here is an old apple tree that is out by itself in our field. It doesn't have too many more years left. Half of the tree broke off a couple years ago. It's been around here alot longer than we have. It kind of reminds us of one of those lone trees photographed by National Geographic out on the Serengeti. This apple tree is just out there all by it's self, but it usually has a pretty good load of apples every year. The deer get most of them since we harvest apples from an old time orchard closer to our house. Those too were here long before us. We never do anything with them. No sprays, no pruning or anything yet we get way more apples than we can use every year. This year we sold a bunch at the road side stand.

We've tried a couple times to plant some new trees but without success. The deer ate the first batch and with the second we had a very cold winter their first winter and most didn't come back in the spring. The ones that did make it never took hold either. I figure it was the extreme cold that did them in because when it came we didn't have much snow cover. I'm just guessing that was what did it.

I'd like to give it another try some day. Maybe this next season I'll manage to get around to it.

Until Next Time


Blogger Jonathan said...

Happy Anniversary to you and Kelli, Russ!

I was interested in your sheep; we have only goats so far, but our neighbor owes us 4 sheep in trade for our hay. I'm not sure I want them until we figure out what we want to do with them! All our neighbors do is raise them for market. I have yet to cook the roast they gave us, since I'm not sure how and no one here seems too interested in giving it a try. Guess it's another one of those learning to try new things. We've never eaten one of our goats, either, but some people say the meat is very good.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Lynn Bartlett said...

Oops, I forgot to change who was commenting! I did the above one, but I'm sure Jonathan would wish you happy anniversary as well!

10:01 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Thanks Lynn,
We had a very nice anniversary. We went out to eat at a "fancy" North Woods restaurant that happens to be just a quarter mile down the road from us. We've only been there a few times because it can be a little pricey. They specialize in grilled steak.

We have eaten goat on one occasion and it was very good. A friend of ours is into raising meat goats and brought some over for us to try during a cook out. And our relatives in TN are very fond of goat meat.

I’m certainly no cook but, I think goat and sheep can be cooked using most beef or venison recipes. But, I’m pretty much a barbarian when it comes to cooking. I figure if I just apply the fire hot enough and long enough it will be cooked. ha, ha
Will anyone eat it besides me? That's another story.

Take Care

12:20 AM  

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