As some of you know I haven't had a lot of shop time lately as I have kind of been working on a bigger project. I got a couple of acres here that are not all that productive and I was trying to think of a way to change that. It was kind of an odd turn of events but I wanted to raise some beef cows, while the wife insisted that if we did,we had to have a couple of sheep for Alyson. Well its funny, because cows can be kept in any sheep fence, but sheep cannot be kept in a cow fence. So after realizing I would have to put up some major fencing to hold the sheep in, it kind of dawned on me, what if I raised just sheep? Six months later I got my answer. It would mean a whole lot less work, and a about 2 bucks a pound more in price. That got my interest.
So for the last few months I have been researching sheep and conducting a farm plan. I got some upcoming training withe the USDA and my farm plan is generally done. Actually I am quite proud of my farm plan, from marketing to biosecurity, to grazing, fencing and even doing my own CNMP, I got everything written down. Two ink cartridges later, and 160 pages of text, I think I got a decent plan for some sheep.
We have had sheep on this farm before. In fact in the last 251 years the last 30 have been the only years we have not had sheep,so I know they will do well. I have been actively searching for some sheep too, and this week I found some.
A top notch USDA woman here in Maine was selling her flock, and while its only 4 sheep, they are just what I want. Hardy and meaty, good mothers and easy lambing, the Montadale Sheep should do fine on this soil and in this climate. They have fine wool as well, and while rather big in size, they are registered and even Scrapie Certified. For a small flock the later is unheard of. Scrapie is basically the sheep version of Mad Cow Disease and being certified I can sell or ship them internationally. It's certainly a good sign of great genetics and documentation to back those claims up.
So I have been working at fencing in some pasture, turning my snowmobile shed into a make shift hovel for them, as well as securing hay for this winter and some other needs. Since a Ram is included with 3 ewes,then I am almost assured I will get some Lambs next Spring. It's only 4 at this point, but I figure in 10-12 years I should have around 150 ewes running around. I have no intention of getting rich, but I am in hopes some lamb sales will help pay for the taxes on this place.
Either way, I am in hopes that in a few weeks I will get my sheep on-farm. Of course if you see Mutton go up for sale on the commercial board, you will know my plans went south !!
I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"