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Bored with Farmville? Try the real thing…

25 May

going public?

What I’ve failed to blog about since April 1: digging fence post holes, fencing, trying to contain the lambs who can slip through any fence, mucking winter paddocks, caring for the chicks and poults, rolling round bales around, planting the garden, digging new garden beds, re-doing the interior of the chicken/turkey coop, weeding, hauling the chicken tractor around, more fencing, butchering the mean roosters and turkey tom who should have taken care of last fall, more weeding, more digging, mowing. Back-breaking work that can be tedious, but never boring, and is so vital to keeping the farm operational.

This Saturday is supposed to be shearing day…but today it’s raining and soaking all the sheep. Hopefully we’ll get a few days of clear skies so they dry out, otherwise we’ll have to postpone. Can’t shear a wet/damp sheep. Will post photos.

Young, post-modern farmers

24 Mar

Wo-Chi and crew

16 Jan

taking a ride in the truck

Exciting day….driving home from Brownsville, WI with four of 11 new Churros. A new fused 4-horn ram, his son, and two wethers. Ewes will be following in a month, more than doubling our Churro flock!

Got milk

16 Jan

Milking Shorthorn bull calf, 2 weeks old

For breakfast this morning I ate hot-from-the-oven buttermilk scones with pats of creamy butter and a hot cup of coffee with fresh cream. All courtesy of this little guy who shares his mother’s bounty with me. Alice calls him “Caffy,” but I think we’re naming him Little Red.

A new experience for me in the kitchen, cheesemaking is tricky! Wow, does everything need to be perfectly exact. As someone who rarely follows a recipe exactly, this is requiring a new approach for me. I’ll post a recipe as soon as I get something perfected.

A year ago

14 Nov

A year ago this month we purchased our house and 6 acres. We now have 17 sheep, a dairy cow, a pony, a coop full of chickens and turkeys and a couple cats! Along with a brand new barn and miles of fencing. And now we have our lamb and wool for sale!

These photos are from last winter, but they’re so darn cute, and they show what beautiful fleeces our little Churros have. Along with my daughter’s adorable smile! We’re not far from having this much snow again…

Feeding time

Our foundation Churros - Paz, Hernanda & Damita

Ebb and flow of flock size: 3 new Churros & 3 lambs to slaughter

8 Oct

This past week we acquired three new Churros  — great for our flock’s genetic diversity, as well as color, now that we have a gorgeous black horned ram. His prior owner says he consistently throws black and multi-colored lambs, so we’re looking forward to having a variety of colors in our lambs come spring.

Our first ram lamb is heading to the butcher next week, with two more going soon after. He’s a Friesian/Border Leicester cross out of our dairy ewe (who won’t let us milk her!), Honey. She cycled into heat this past weekend and has since been mounted by both our Cotswold ram, and the Churro ram, so it will be surprise to see which one took in the spring.










Seasonal eating

8 Sep

This summer I bought a dairy cow — a Milking Shorthorn named Freckles. She’s noisy and pushy, but such a great milker. Stands quietly and loves being brushed. We grafted an orphan Hereford calf of our neighbor’s (I call him Bronco) onto her since I wasn’t quite ready for the daily milking. But come Christmas, when she’s due to freshen, I’ll be ready to make butter, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, cheese, you name it.

And our Delawares are laying! Just started over the last two weeks. We’re now getting 4-5 eggs a day. No more store-bought eggs! And the difference is amazing – better flavor, richer colors.

The previous owners of our home planted crab apples, pears and apple trees, so the sheep, Freckles and the chickens are getting buckets full of fruit each week, supplementing their pasture. The chickens are also enjoying the overflow of tomatoes from the garden. Soon we’ll be harvesting the squash growing on the compost pile — a great late fall and winter treat for the sheep.

Sacred Sheep Revive Navajo Tradition, For Now

14 Jun

A wonderful article from NPR about the Navajo Churro – we love this scrappy little breed and love that we can share in protecting a little slice of American culture. Click here to listen to the story.

Our Churros, freshly shorn: Hernanda, Paz and Paz's lamb

Sacred Sheep Revive Navajo Tradition, For Now

by Hal Cannon
June 13, 2010

For as long as anyone can remember, Churro sheep have been central to Navajo life and spirituality, yet the animal was nearly exterminated in modern times by outside forces who deemed it an inferior breed. Now, on a Navajo reservation of northern Arizona and New Mexico, the Churro is being shepherded back to health.

The Navajo Nation is the size of West Virginia, and at last count, 175,000 people live here. Most people are spread out in small clusters that you see off in the distance from the highway. Amongst modern prefab houses and hogans, the multisided traditional homes of the Navajo, are often corrals with small bands of sheep grazing nearby.

“Sometimes you find me, and I just want to sit in the corral with them,” Navajo weaver Roy Kady says. “Just find a corner and I sit there. They motivate me, even just to see them; it’s that strong to me.”

Churro sheep are smaller than most breeds and have a long, wavy lustrous fleece that is valued by Navajo weavers like Kady. He lives near Teec Nos Pos, where he’s chapter president — sort of like being the town’s mayor. For him, this flock is part of something larger, something he calls “din’e bi iina,” the Navajo lifeway. “Din’e” is the preferred name for the Navajo, and “bi iina” means “lifeway.”

“Sheep is your backbone,” Kady says. “It’s your survival. It’s your lifeline.”

For centuries, the Churro was all these things, providing the Navajo with what they needed to survive in the stark desert: meat for sustenance, wool for weaving clothing and blankets, sinew for thread. It’s no wonder the Navajo are grateful, even reverential when it comes to the Churro.

“Sheep is a very important part of this whole cosmology to us,” Kady explains. “You know, there are songs to where it refers to ‘the first thing I see is the white sheep to the East when I wake up to make my offering. It stands at my doorway.’ And that’s how we know that the sheep is something that’s very sacred to us.”

Where The Churro Went

The Churro were the first domesticated sheep in the New World, and, by most historical accounts, were brought to the Southwest by Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s. Over the next three centuries, Churro sheep and the Navajo wove a life together in a balance of nature. However, by the 1860s, America’s westward expansion collided with Navajo resistance. In a tragic move, Kit Carson and his troops were ordered to relocate the tribe and destroy their livestock.

Sheep is your backbone. It’s your survival. It’s your lifeline.

– Navajo weaver Roy Kady

“The eradication of this particular sheep breed — because we are connected to it with songs and prayers and ceremonies — when it was taken from us, that part of our life was also destroyed,” Kady says.

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Shooting flames of forsythia

14 Apr

We bought our little farm in the fall, when the pear trees were overladen with fruit, but everything else was already brown. There didn’t seem to be much beyond a sparse perimeter of pines offering some green in an otherwise large, barren and windswept yard.

Now that spring is here, little bursts of color are appearing, past evidence of some care put into landscaping. There are a number of forsythias (I think these are forsythias), that look like yellow flames shooting out of the ground, particularly in the setting sun.

In a few weekends we’re having a permaculturist out to give us some guidance on how we can turn our barren acres into an overabundance of food and lush greenery in all seasons. Orchard and nut trees, effective wind blocks and shade trees in all the right places, edible bushes lining meandering walking paths, perennial gardens, a pond and maybe even some swales down the hillside. I’m really looking forward to hearing what she has to say, and getting some help turning my vision into reality.

Modern and Traditional. An Easy Balance.

16 Mar

No iconic red dairy barn and Midwest farmhouse passed down through the generations here, yet our heritage breed livestock are raised using the best of Old World and modern sustainable farming practices, in their natural state and in balance with the earth.

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