Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fun Farm Weekend

Michael has been wanting to purchase sheep. We have spent time researching and learning about the different breeds. On Saturday morning, Michael and a friend were heading out to go to several farms that had sheep for sale. I decided that I wanted to tag along. The first farm was more of a hobby farm that raised exotic animals for petting zoos. Although it was very fun to see all the exotic animals, it was not a place to purchase sheep for our needs.

The next farm we went to was a great educational experience. We showed up unannounced, but they were very gracious to show us around and give us information. The man escorted us into the field that had 30 ewes that were for sale. He said that 28 of the 30 had been bred. I was really wanting to know how he knew which ones had been bred, but I decided that I would ask my husband when we got home. I am tired of opening my mouth and showing my ignorance of farming around experienced farmers. I noticed that all of the ewes had a large spray painted orange mark on their back. I figured that they were marked to designate which ones were for sale. (I was wrong). I saw the ram and he was wearing a harness. It looked like something you would attach a leash to in order to lead him around the pasture. I decided that it would be an appropriate question to ask about the harness. After all, we might need to purchase a harness to lead our ram around the field with too. Once I asked the question, this nice gentleman farmer got that sly grin on his face. Ughh..somehow I had asked a question that showed my complete ignorance of sheep. He told me in a very kind way that it was the marker for the ewes. I was confused and decided that since I had already showed my ignorance I should just go for the whole ball of wax and ask yet another question. I opened my mouth and asked a marker for what???? He then explained sheep breeding to me. (Oh, why didn't I just ask my husband ALL of my questions at home in private)!!! He explained that the harness contains a paint pack. He drew my attention to the color of the pack in the front of the harness. It was the same color as the mark on the ewe. When the ram breeds with the ewe, he also paints her back. This is the way he knew which of the 30 ewes had been bred. I smiled back at the kind man and said well, now you have answered the question that I really wanted to ask.

He and his wife spent time giving us a lot of great information. We will be going back next Saturday to pick up 10 ewes. Yes, according to the large paint spot on their back they should all be pregnant. They are due to lamb in June.

There has been some questions about selling sheep and goats in Tennessee without having a scrapie tag. I asked the sheep farmer about the law, and she told me that the new law says that as long as the sheep are sold for meat before the age of 18 months old the new law doesn't apply. I am still not for sure of all the ends and outs, but it is something that we are investigating. We will keep you posted as we find out more information.

grace and peace,
julie

4 comments:

Nancy said...

Oh I've always wanted sheep Julie. I'm looking forward to learning from you all! How interesting about the paint. I hadn't heard about that before.

TnFullQuiver said...

Nancy,
I will keep you posted on all we learn. It ought to be fun. I too am looking forward to the sheep, but I am a bit nervous about sending them to market. The laws concern me as well as getting attatched to the little darlings! Enjoy your day.
grace and peace,
julie

Anonymous said...

how long have you been farming?? do you incorporate educational units about farming into your homeschool lesson plans?

TnFullQuiver said...

We have owned this small farm for 4 years. Prior to moving here, we lived on another small farm for about a year and a half. I don't even think of us as farmers because we are so new to it. I feel like each day is a learning experience. Our goal is to provide more of our own food and less of the store's food. Each year we see more and more of this goal come to pass!

I do not include planned units on farming in our lessons plans. However, when I see a child that is interested in something here on the farm, I do my best to add that in to his school in some form or fashion. For example, our third son loves our chickens. He is the one who takes care of them for the most part. I found a wonderful fiction book about a farm with chickens. The book is Along Came A Dog. We spent time together reading this book aloud to one another. We stopped and talked often about chickens. He had a great time learning, and he improved his reading skills in the process. However, if I had included my daughter in all of that, she would have been bored to tears. Her interests do not lie in the same areas as her brother's. If my husband is working on a special farm project throughout the week, I will allow any child who wants to help to skip school for that day. They know they must make it up later in the day. Jacob usually chooses to help his dad and then do school later in the afternoon. Our second son usually chooses to help his dad if he is in the shop woodworking. I think these skills are very valuable so I make sure that our children have time to pursue them. However, I also think formal education is valuable too so they must take time to pursue that as well.

Our second son is excited about the sheep that we are about to purchase. He wants to see how this works because he is interested in buying a few for himself to make some extra spending money. We most certainly encourage this. He doesn't mind the work that is required and he likes having a little extra money in his pocket.

I hope this helps. Thanks for taking the time to stop by our blog!
grace and peace,
julie