Ewe won’t believe this

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Ewe Won’t Believe This

Most of you who follow my blog probably remember this little guy who the dog brought home during really cold and nasty weather. His name is Bucky and he is a little Katahdin ram.

We used to keep Shetland/Merino crosses because we love to work wool. The trouble was that because we have several jobs going, we don’t have time to keep up on spinning and using all of their wool. However, we love sheep! They graze a different section of the grasses and weeds than our goats, horses or calf do, plus they are delicious when they are cooked correctly.

We hadn’t been planning on more sheep any time too soon because of our literal wool gathering habit. That all changed when Commando showed up with his *ahem* present.

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We had to then locate the lamb’s owner( which wasn’t a super easy task) and offer to buy the lamb. Fast forward a few months. Being a Katahdin, Bucky won’t require shearing because he has hair. Then there is the fact that we bottle raised him so he is super sweet and friendly.

Yup! We have officially fallen in love with him. He stays as a breeder. So, yesterday, we acquired two something specials.

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Yup! We got Bucky a couple of girlfriends. We are officially back in sheep. They aren’t as tame as Bucky. As a matter of fact, we had an attempted get away today. Thankfully my dad and I were able to bring our stray lambs home.

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How to learn homesteading without losing your mind

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Homesteading is a wonderful and sometimes complicated thing to know how to do. There are so many things to learn! We learned it the hard way. Over decades, we learned how to garden, as my great grandparents did during the depression years in America. My father began learning to raise chickens as a boy and he honed his skill as he grew up.

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Later, when we were living in the mountains in Mexico, he learned how to raise rabbits for meat to help the people there provide themselves with much needed protein. When I was 14, we moved back to America. We had to learn how to garden in the soil of the high desert of central Mexico where I lived from 7-14 years old, the cold rain forest type climate we lived in until I was 6 years old and later, the pine barrens of New Jersey with it’s sandy loam. Now, we are gardening in Oklahoma.

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When we moved to Oklahoma, we got into dairy goats. This was a huge jump for us. Goats don’t lay eggs obviously so learning to deal with kidding was going to be a huge task. Fortunately for us, since we were determined to become more self sufficient, we were able to find a mentor for learning to raise goats. Later, we also branched out into raising our own beef, and wool on the homestead.

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Each thing that we have learned is wonderful. But there can be a steep learning curve. You need to find or get a good mentor if you want to be successful raising a significant portion of your own food.

But, I have some very good news for those of you who want to learn, but have not been successful at finding a mentor. Homesteadingedu launches tomorrow. Our website is http://www.homesteadingedu.com and we will mentor you in all the things we know. We can teach you everything that I’ve previously mentioned plus things like making your own yogurt from store bought milk and making a yogurt start without having to buy any yogurt. We have many many classes coming up on our website.

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Home made goats cheese

It’s Affordable
Our classes are $9.99 a month or $99 a year. Tomorrow is when we start the first few of our classes and more will be regularly getting added. Learning to homesetead without a mentor can be very time consuming and difficult.  Come join us, and make homesteading easier for yourself!

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Kids in perspective

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George McLaughlin, one of the homesteaders at Homesteadingedu wrote an article that he asked me to share with you all. Sorry that it has taken me a while to get this posted. We’ve been battling for the lives of some sick kids lately. Here is the article:

Kids in Perspective

Kidding season has arrived! Our family both looks forward to it, and… dreads it. We have a love hate view of the arrival of all the baby goats, and, any other ruminants, at this time of the year.

They’re so cute, what’s there not to LOVE?! They’re adorable. They’re entertaining. They are totally dependent on us too. Cuddling a kid while feeding is really therapeutic in some ways. Plus, this activity makes for some precious photos!

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There are some real challenges to the arrival of kids. They are often born when we would very much like to be sleeping. Sometimes their birth is drawn out. One day when we were still fairly new to goats, we had a doe appear to go into labor around 4 PM. Most of the family sat out there, in the barn with her, in 20 degree weather, until nearly midnight, as we observed her contractions. Wrapped in blankets, we were still FREEZING cold! Finally, around midnight the doe got up, looked around at us, as if to say, “Well, thank you for the company,” stretched, yawned, and… went to sleep. The kids didn’t arrive for another day or two!

Kids poop a lot. Sometimes they catch one off guard. Fairly frequently one will be bottle feeding a warm, snuggly kid only to discover that “the warm” wasn’t just body heat. Kids leak, spatter and spill milk all over their caretakers. I usually set aside some work pants, just for chores, and, during the days of kidding, those pants go into the laundry, not because they look stained and dirty, but rather because they STINK!

As kids get older, they pass from the cute and cuddling stage, to what we call “the obnoxious stage.” They become more demanding. They have almost no manners. When hungry, if they don’t have a bottle stuck into their mouth, they often bite! The other day I wore dark trousers and a navy blue sweatshirt while bottle feeding the kids. When I went back in the house, my wife laughed at me, commenting that I had little muddy hoof prints all over me, as well as bits and pieces of hay!

I don’t mind the cold. I even tolerate rain and sleet pretty well. But there’s something about being out in “it” for several hours and then coming into a warm house, after dark. Within minutes, I have lost all desire to go back outside. Yet, when we are caring for kids, it’s often precisely that time when I need to carry out a bucketful of bottles and spend the next half hour, or more, bottle feeding! Kids are inconvenient!

Yet, in spite of all the disadvantages, we would be really sad not to have kids born on our farm every year. You see, we have a small dairy. We even raise most of our own meat. We earn an income from animals we sell. On almost a yearly basis we even sell a milk goat in milk, often to someone who is just starting out with dairy. Without kids we couldn’t do any of this. Whenever we have kids, whenever I work with them I can’t help but think “these are the future.” They represent future prosperity, for me, for my family, and also for others. They represent the future of our herd. Particularly when I consider a new little doe, I think about the many potential gallons of milk and production that she represents. Kids are simply worth the expense and inconvenience!

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There’s an analogy to be drawn between these kids and “the other kind” of kid: human kids. When I consider this, apart from the potential “product” of the two differing kinds of kids, everything else is analogous. But with human kids both the negatives and the positives are exponentially greater.

The Great Shepherd happens to LOVE children! We should too.

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. 5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5

Even if we are not at a point in life to bear them, I believe the Lord would have us to support and encourage those who do, as well as pursue that which promotes their well being.

The inconvenience of raising children lasts much much longer, and it is much more than raising livestock. The commitment required is much greater! Human kids can encourage or discourage us so much more than “goat kids.” The cost of raising human kids is immense. The stakes are much higher! Yet the potential for good is also far greater. It requires much diligence, expense, pain and inconvenience. Yet, in most cases, the rewards are greater, both for the parent and for society. There is a biblical proverb which states: “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.” (Proverbs 14:4) Simply stated, the idea is “Where there is no mess, there is no profit.” This principle is true in animal husbandry. It’s true in regard to human families. And, it’s even true in regard to other things, like business ventures.

I don’t believe it’s coincidental that the Lord chose a shepherd to write the psalms. Caring for the flock and herd, one can learn a whole lot both about life and God’s own heart.

Exciting news!

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I had an exciting day today. Today, as a part of preparing for something with Homesteadingedu, we worked on a course that will teach you how to make scrumptious homemade sourdough English muffins from scratch. Then tonight, we are enjoying those with some wonderful Jaimaica jelly, which let me tell you is to die for!

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Don’t these look delicious! Now, the exciting part about this is that March 20th, Homesteadingedu will be launching our website. Yup! That’s right! We will be starting to teach classes and offer mentoring for those of you who really want to learn how to be a little more self sufficient whether you live in the city, or if you live in the country.

We will be teaching classes like cheese making,

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gardening, making jelly, raising all kinds of animals for food, milk, honey and many more classes. There are going to be so many types of classes coming up and you can come join us. This is going to be so cool! We are so excited! So, put it on your calendars and come see us at http://www.new.homesteadingedu.com on March 20, 2017! We hope to see you there!

 

The newest bottle baby

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This is Brisket. As I mentioned two days ago, aside from the lamb and the kids, we’ve acquired a calf. Last November, we had just sent our steer off to the butcher and with all of the new kids arrivals, our does are giving a lot of milk. I was browsing on facebook close to a week ago, when I ran across an ad for a 2 week old bull calf.

Perfect age for bottle feeding! He was at a decent price, so my dad and I drove to the dairy farm that this little guy was born at, and picked him up. He is so small that we brought him home in the back of a pickup truck in a extra large dog crate. He is mostly Holstein with a little bit of Jersey in him. Usually, beef bred is better beef but we won’t turn our noses up on a dairy calf. Especially one with Jersey in it. Those tend to be great eating when they reach two years old. We have found that by two, they are big enough to eat.

 

When you get a bottle calf, if you have goats, you will need to dilute the goats milk because cows milk isn’t quite as rich. Goats milk can scour a calf if given to them as is. (Scour is a bad case of diarrhea and can be deadly.)

The lively homestead

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I know it has been two, nearly three weeks since my last post. I am sorry about that. Life on the homestead got very busy. Two weeks ago, these lovelies came along and have kept us very busy!

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We have 8 goats, a lamb, and a calf now. The babies are all bottle babies which takes up a lot of time, energy and love. We enjoy the vast majority of it though.

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I say vast majority because prior to the does kidding and during immediate kidding season, I can’t say that we enjoy the loss of sleep. But once we are past that and are milk does and loving on these playful little lovebugs, all is well. Even our dogs think they are great!

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Homesteading and neighbors

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On a farm, ranch or homestead, believe it or not, it is extremely important to maintain a good relationship with everyone in your neighborhood. A few years ago, a co-worker of mine told me a story about how he had seriously upset a neighbor of his to the extant that the neighbor decided to take revenge. The neighbor shot my co-worker’s three year old colt, and killed it. My co-worker was never able to prove who did it.

A week or two ago, I wrote about how our dogs brought home a lamb that was almost dead. My family saved it’s life and spent 48 hours trying to find out who the lamb belonged to. We located the owner, and he said he didn’t want the lamb back because it would require bottle feeding every two hours around the clock for 48 hours and then 4 hours around the clock for a week plus it needed a daily penicillin shot. It would be very difficult and delicate and time consuming job to bring up the lamb. So, we are keeping the lamb and named him Bucky.

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The story is continuing however. If we were in that farmer’s shoes, we would feel the loss of a lamb sorely. So, we looked up the value of the animal online and have now gone over to the farm with money in hand to pay the man for his lamb. He refused payment, but at least this way, he isn’t left feeling like he had a lamb stolen. This will hopefully keep a good relationship with the farmer just in case our dog feels it necessary to bring home any more lambs. I know he was very cheerful with my father when he refused to take my father’s money. It made sure that he knows that we are honest and will do right by any and all of our neighbors.bucky

Keeping good relations with all the neighbors also has it’s perks. If you are willing to go above and beyond in helping them, they will also be more likely to reciprocate the favor. A few years ago, I got a text message from a neighbor while I was driving to the airport to drop my mother off. The text said that they were pretty sure that they had seen my boxer loose on the road. This was a big deal! Being a square headed breed of dog means that if he was out, he would likely be shot on sight by any farmer that saw him. Baran knows how to open doors and I was so tired that I couldn’t remember if I had properly secured the door so that he couldn’t do that. He means the absolute world to me! I couldn’t imagine life with out him. I didn’t want to have to. So, since I was about an hour away and couldn’t go home until I’d dropped my mother off, I texted my closest neighbor. He drove first, down to my house, completely prepared to scour the neighborhood for my missing dog if need be, but he was going to check at my house first. Thankfully, it turned out I had secured things correctly, and my dearly beloved houdini was still inside.

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