This picture was taken just hours after this little guy was born. Isn't he a cutie. We have Jacob sheep and Black Face sheep. Jacob sheep are said to originate from the sheep Jacob, in the bible, raised. You may remember the story where he got all the spotted and speckled sheep from his father in-law as his payment for shepherding his sheep (Genesis). Yes, That was one of the things that drew us to them but they also have a more mild flavor and their meat is more tender. A breed with all those qualities sounded like a great breed to us! We have truly loved them and are very happy with our decision.
Another interesting thing about Jacob sheep is that they can have up to six horns. They can even have an odd number of horns. The ewes and the rams both have them. Sometimes they might be a full curl, or like you can see in the picture below, they can go in opposite directions.
We lamb later than most people. It is common to lamb in March and sometimes even in February! That is usually really cold and wet for a new little lamb. One thing we have always heard since we have got lambs is that lambs try to die. Maybe in the wet and frigid environment of February and March. We live in North Dakota and it is cold here!
Thankfully, and with the Lord's help, we have not lost a lamb yet. May the good Lord continue to bless all of our lambs and mamas too, and I don't want to forget the rams either!
When they are born later in the spring they are able to have access to fresh green grass. This is great for the mamas who are finishing out their pregnancy and then making all that milk to nourish their little ones. And, like I said before, there isn't usually the mud. A lot of illnesses are contracted through the mud so it is best to keep them out of it.
We didn't plan on getting lambs. Then my husband found and add for some bottle lambs. There are always adds for bottle lambs in the early spring. Big farmers don't want to have to deal with bottle lambs. They are a lot of work. Like making a bottle and feeding them every two hours a lot of work. Well we weren't a farm at that time, no greenhouse to take care of and no CSA baskets to fill, just a small family homestead so we went for it. We got four bottle lambs in the cold and wet early spring. One ram and three ewes. That is were are Black Face sheep come from. We did loose one of these lambs but I count that little one separately from the ones we have lambed because it wasn't one we produced with our practices. Does that make sense?
Anyways we love our Black Face sheep too. It is hard not to love something that you have raised and put so much time and effort into.
From there we found the Jacob sheep and new that we wanted them to be the main focus in our sheep operation as our farm grew. They have been a joy and a wonderful addition.
Roxie, one of our original Black Face sheep, pictured below, is supper friendly. She will just walk up to us and expect to be petted. She always has to see what is going on just like when this picture was taken. I was trying to get some pictures of the lambs, she hasn't had hers yet, and she had to come see what I was up to. We had a nice visit.
Well I hope you enjoyed this little peek into lambing on our farm. It's spring, I best be getting back to farming!
Until next time,
Happy, healthy, clean eating!
That may sound contradictory, but really, chickens can do all kinds of work in the garden. They do love to eat almost anything green that you don't want them to eat and they will the first chance they get. They also like to scratch. Ugh? Can it be that they actually help in the garden in some way? Do you think chickens scratching in the garden sounds like a good idea to you?
Let me explain. We are not giving the chickens (and any other poultry we may have), free range of the gardens all year long. But, spring time, before plant, is a perfect opportunity to put our chickens to work for us. Like I said, chickens like to eat almost anything green. Any weeds that are coming up will be great fresh greens for them. They eat the weeds and we get chemical free weed control.
They also like to eat bugs. They may like this better than the greens. Letting the chickens in the gardens in the spring is a great way to control bad bugs in the garden. If there are any bugs, or their larvae, in the garden, the chickens are sure to find them. They get a tasty meal and we get chemical free pest control!
We do not till our gardens. Tilling ruins the very important ecosystem of the soil and disturbs all the organisms, micro and otherwise, that live their. If they aren't killed in the process they then have to go about rebuild their "homes". This takes time so instead of working with our plants, helping them to reach nutrients they other wise would not be able to (go glomolin!), aerating the soil, breaking down organic matter and more, they are stuck trying to rebuild their world. Because I can't say it any better let me provide you with the following from Oregon State extension service.
A single teaspoon (1 gram) of rich garden soil can hold up to one billion bacteria, several yards of fungal filaments, several thousand protozoa, and scores of nematodes, according to Kathy Merrifield, a retired nematologist at Oregon State University. Most of these creatures are exceedingly small; earthworms and millipedes are giants, in comparison. Each has a role in the secret life of soil.
Bacteria make up the largest group in the soil jungle, and they are as diverse as they are numerous. Some kinds of bacteria are responsible for converting atmospheric nitrogen to plant-available forms, a process known as nitrogen fixation. Actinomycetes, with cells like bacteria and filaments like fungi, are thought to contribute chemicals that give newly tilled soil its earthy aroma.
Mycorrhizae are fungi that form a relationship with plant roots and increase their ability to take up nutrients from the soil. These filaments, along with root hairs and other binding substances produced by bacteria and fungi, help hold soil particles together and keep soil from eroding.
Protozoa are single-celled, mostly motile organisms that feed on bacteria and other tiny organisms as well as each other. There may be thousands of them living in that teaspoon of soil. Protozoa release nitrogen, making it available to plants. As much as 80 percent of the nitrogen in plants can come from bacteria-eating protozoa.
Nematodes, simple roundworms, have evolved several feeding strategies. In temperate soils, some eat bacteria while others eat fungi or soil algae. Some nematodes attack plants, piercing plant cells and sucking out the contents. Some nematodes eat other nematodes or other small invertebrates.
Earthworms, giants of the soil jungle, mix and aggregate soil particles, creating deep channels that help aerate the soil and provide channels for growing roots. They shred and bury plant residue that stimulates microbial activity and increases the soil's capacity to retain moisture. Earthworms consume tiny soil organisms and excrete even more microorganisms in their castings.
The base of the soil food web is organic matter, material derived from living stuff that provides a source of energy stored as fixed carbon. Nutrients are "served" along with fixed carbon as carbon is converted to energy. Chemical fertilizers supply specific nutrients directly to plants, but they do not replace the other kinds of food that bacteria and fungi need. Soils with more organic matter tend to have more life. Mulching with compost, cover cropping and no-till farming practices tend to increase organic matter and thus increase the number and diversity of microorganisms in soil. http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/secret-life-soil-0
*We. of course DO NOT use any chemicals!
Who would want to mess up any part of that! God created it to work so perfectly together. Everything has it's job and they all work together in harmony balancing each other out.
Now, back to the chickens. In the spring and sometimes in the fall, we allow them to scratch in the garden. This exposes any weed seeds, then they eat them. They expose bugs, larvae, and eggs, and then they eat them. This greatly reduces the bad bug population in the garden. One type of bad bug, the cut worm, dwell just under the surface of the soil then come out at night and eat right through the stems of seedlings and young transplants. This could be devastating. Chickens are just one way we combat this issue. And all the while they are fertilizing for us out their back end. The chickens act of scratching also helps break down any organic matter that was left from last years garden. Oh, those chickens, aren't they great! They are organic "insecticide" and "fertilizer" all in one feathered package. Thank you chickens!
Happy, healthy, clean eating to all!
Hello, I'm Jaci. I love gardening and being outside in God's amazing creation. I'm passionate about whole foods and clean eating. I look forward to sharing my farming adventures and helping you reach your gardening goals!