The Top 4 Things You Should Know Before Getting Sheep

When we got into raising hair sheep we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. Beef cattle are relatively hands off, especially when they are mostly pasture raised, and so we didn’t realize how much up close and personal time we would be getting with the sheep so I thought I would highlight some of the really important things we have learned about sheep in our couple of years of raising them.

Hooves have to be trimmed regularly

Coming from Cows to sheep we didn’t really realize at first the importance of trimming their hooves. Sheep hooves are made of the same thing our fingernails are made out of so like our fingernails they have to be trimmed. They need regular trimming every 6-8 weeks to make sure they are able to walk properly. If their hooves get too bad overgrown they can get foot rot, and other legs and foot problems that can eventually lead to serious problems. We have spent countless hours trimming hooves since we got our sheep to make sure we got them back to tip top shape.

Sheep Regularly Have Multiples

Sheep very commonly have twins. Some even have triplets and I’ve heard rumors of sheep that can have more than that but we have never had that experience. We have had multiple sets of twins here on the farm and although they are a bit smaller than their single birth friends they are just as healthy 9 times out of 10.

Be Ready to Bottle Feed

Our Mamas are great but often when they have multiples one ends up missing out. We will then pull them to be bottle fed because we would rather do that than find them starved one afternoon when we check them. We have had quite a few bottle babies recently and from our experience they end up being just as strong and healthy as the others.

Don’t Overfeed

Grain and sheep are a touchy subject. They do need a little supplemental grain but it has to be managed carefully. Too much grain can cause overgrowth in the hooves and can cause them to be overweight which can cause problems with pregnancy/lambing. Mineral is also an important supplement to give them. Just like a salt block for a cow this provides them with supplemental vitamins and minerals to help them be their healthiest.

Sheep can be a lot of work but they also add such a joy to the farm. We have had such an exciting spring with all the new babies and the work isn’t hard. The main thing with sheep is just staying on top of things whether that be parasite control, nutrition or hoof management.

Gardening For Preservation

When starting a garden it is easy to get excited and start buying seeds for 12 types of lettuce and various melons. They are very tasty fresh but when thinking about eating that food over the cold winter, foods that will preserve and store well are your best bet. It is okay to have a couple of lettuce plants, a couple of melon plants, and so on but the bulk of what you are mainly growing should be things you can either can, store, freeze, or refrigerate over the coming year.

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Canning

A lot of things CAN be canned but think about the things you will actually eat. This past year in order to preserve the squash I had grown I made squash pickles. Come to find out I don’t like squash pickles so there are 4 or 5 cans of squash pickles that I will probably throw out when it comes time to can again.

Some of the most useful things to grow for canning are the things that can be used in multiple ways. Tomatoes can be juiced for various soups or just for drinking, canned whole for chunkier soups and sauces, made into actual sauce, made into salsa, or even packed in olive oil and put into the fridge. Investing in growing many types of tomatoes and knowing which types to make into juice and which types to make into other types of canned goods will pack your pantry until the next tomato season.

Other vegetables such as corn, green beans, and even carrots can pack your pantry full of foods that can be used in multiple ways and are easy to grow. My green beans lasted me until mid-December so I know I didn’t can enough of those and will be growing more of them this year than I did last year but since I am the only person who likes them I’m not going to can 100 jars or anything because I don’t want to waste food.

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Storage

Some vegetables are just able to be put into a cool dark place and left there. Onions for example can be pulled out of the ground, allowed to cure for about a week in a shady spot, and then braided or just put straight into storage. Most onions, if stored correctly, should last months and months. Garlic is another crop that is easy to plant, easy to grow, easy to harvest and will last for months and months. The hardneck variety will last the longest in storage but the soft neck variety can be braided for easier storage.

Cabbage is another vegetable that can be stored. If you have a cool dry spot to keep the cabbage in it will last for a really long time. Peel the outside leaves away and reveal a perfectly edible and fresh cabbage all year long.

Carrots are also a good storage vegetable if you buy the right variety. Look for a storage variety of carrots and then you can store them in the dirt in a tote and eat on them through the year. Same with potatoes, grow, stick in the dirt and have fresh potatoes all year long.

Drying

Drying is mostly for herbs like basil, thyme, parsley, rosemary, and other spices you could buy in the grocery store but you can also dry tomatoes, apples, and various fruits. Stick them in a dehydrator or for the herbs just let them hang and dry out naturally.

Freezing

I have my own favorite vegetables and fruits to freeze like zucchini, corn, berries, and broccoli but there are a lot of things you can freeze. Make up a batch of pesto with your basil leaves and freeze them in ice cubes and then store them in plastic bags or tubs until use. You can freeze spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and even tomatoes as well (even though I don’t like frozen tomatoes personally.) This all just depends on your freezer space and not on your imagination.

When it comes to gardening for preservation make sure to sit down and really think about what it is you like to eat during the cold winter months. If you love soups and stews and starchy dishes, grow lots of tomatoes, corn, beans, and potatoes. If you love roasted veggies go with broccoli, asparagus, onions, green beans, and other really delicious roasted veggies. It all depends on your lifestyle and what you like.

You don’t want to end up with 40 jars of pickles if you don’t like pickles that much.

3 Things I Learned During Quarantine.

I dove headfirst into Quarantine life. I baked all the things, planted all the plants and watched all the press conferences. I looked at it as a challenge and I intended on meeting the challenge head-on. Come about June, my tune changed. The country was slowly opening back up but things were different and my anxiety creeped in. I withdrew from social media, spent most of the time on the farm or in the garden and looked to my family for companionship that I have always had.

One thing I learned during quarantine is how absolutely passionate I am about the progress of our farm. I found myself dreaming about planting fruit trees and perennial berry bushes and buying pigs and even a milk cow. I’m talking full on self sufficiency here. Before modern conveniences, people milked their own cow, put up their own food, and stored food for the winter. If they didn’t put it up for the winter, they didn’t eat it, and the food shortages and crazy grocery store stocking really got me to thinking about never relying on that again. I’m not anti-grocery store for things that are little treats but I really hope to one day grow a big portion of our food on our farm.

Another thing I learned during quarantine is that teaching from home ain’t it. I genuinely enjoy being in a classroom with young people and not having that interaction every day was not good for my soul. Building relationships with students is one thing I am pretty good at and I missed them all terribly and worried about how they were doing. I cannot wait to start back and see my kiddos from 6 feet away!

The last but honestly most important thing I learned during quarantine is to TRUST IN HIM! The world is crazy right now but you know who wasn’t caught off guard, God. He knew this was coming and I believe if we just trust in him and set our sites on the good news we will all be ok.

Oh, I also learned Facebook isn’t good for my mental health but that isn’t a surprise lol.

What did you learn during quarantine? I feel like if we were all honest we learned a lot about ourselves, our priorities and our families.

Here’s hoping the last half of 2020 is better than the first half, but if not God’s got this!

Til Next Time,

Sarah ❤

Cullen’s Birth Story

If there is one adage that I believe in 100% it is “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” We didn’t plan on getting pregnant but God clearly had other plans and I should have known not to make set in stone plans for my pregnancy but I’m so stubborn and just KNEW everything I wanted was going to work out.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started to get a little antsy. My anxiety definitely flared up pretty bad during those 9 (10) months and I definitely struggled towards the end. I always said that I wanted to wait until little man decided to make his arrival on his own but around 36 weeks I started itching. I ignored the itching for a while because I have sensitive skin and allergies but while I was reading an article on The Bump I stumbled upon Cholestasis as a pregnancy complication and I became concerned. After a visit to the hospital at 38 weeks and a blood test, I went into my 39-week appointment with my OB and she decided that it was time for little man to come earthside.

On Saturday, August 18th Matt and I had our last meal as just us (Mexican of course) and checked into the hospital to be induced. I was started on a medicine to soften my cervix at 8:00 that night and was given the medicine every 4 hours until the morning. At the time I checked into the hospital I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced.

The next morning at 7 AM I was given my first dose of Pitocin. Over the next couple of hours, I managed to dilate to around 2 cm and at 10 AM my doctor came in to break my waters. Let me tell you that was a sensation I did NOT expect. After my waters were broken and my Pitocin was increased the contractions started. THE REAL DEAL. I have never in my life experienced something so painful. I intended 100% to go medicine free for my delivery but I really could not even fathom how unbearable contractions would be. Around 3 PM I was dilated to 4 cm and the contractions were getting strong. Within the next couple of hours, I broke down and requested the IV pain medicine and after an hour that wore off and I tried walking around the hallway to alleviate the pain but that did not work and I finally, after Matt told me there was no shame in getting medication, I caved and got the epidural.

My epidural definitely didn’t feel the way I expected. At first it 100% took away my contraction pains but it also numbed my arms and chest a little bit which was a sensation I wasn’t a huge fan of. They came in and told me that they could take me completely off the epidural or they could turn it off for a while and then try it again on a lower dose. I chose the latter and it worked to the point that my arms and chest didn’t become numb at that time but I could also partially feel my contractions.

Around the time my epidural finally started working correctly they came in to check me one more time and I hadn’t progressed anymore so they told me they were going to call my doctor. This was around 8 pm on Sunday. Later my husband told me he knew before I did that the c-section was happening, he told my mom who got prepared to go in with me by putting on her scrubs (my mom works on the unit so she was prepared for anything). When they told me about the c-section I was surprisingly calm about it but obviously scared. This was a major surgery and I had read accounts of people having issues while on the table and whatnot.

I insisted before I was wheeled back that my entire party of people (a large group) come back and pray with me. This calmed my nerves a bit and helped me to get ready for the big show. I also got a picture with my nurse that I had both nights, she was a rock star and my husband told people that she could have come back and told me they were going to take my head off and remove the baby through my neck and I would have been fine with it. I could not be more thankful for her and all she did to make me feel comfortable.

I was not prepared for the shaking. I don’t know if it was the medicine they gave me, my nerves or a mixture of both but I shook uncontrollably while I was in the operating room. I felt the pressure of them cutting but not the actual pain and that was a strange sensation. About 10-15 minutes into the procedure I heard my doctor say “Look at those eyelashes” and then I heard those wonderful cries. I never thought I would be one to cry when I heard/saw my baby because I’m not a crier but I lost it. I was so relieved he was here and when they showed him to me he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen all 8 lbs 2 ounces and 21 inches of him. He was all swollen and puffy like all babies are and that just highlighted the features that made him look like me. (He has since started looking a lot more like Matt). Once they cut the cord and then let Matt cut part of the stump for the experience and got him partially cleaned off they laid him on my chest. He was screaming and I just talked to him and looked at him and couldn’t honestly believe that he was mine.

Those couple of days after in the hospital were honestly a blur, partially due to the pain medicine and lack of sleep but it is something I am willing to talk about in another post. I definitely have some recommendations for those of you who are going to be doing this for the first time as well.

Finally, I want to thank all my nurses and staff of the OB and labor and delivery departments at TJ Samson Community Hospital. Every single one of them made me feel comforted and calm and I don’t know if I could have done it without them. They are seriously a wonderful group of women. There was one night where he was screaming hungry and my breast milk just wasn’t cutting it and we had both had zero sleep and had it not been for those nurses I don’t know how we would have made it. They did EVERYTHING they could to help calm him and get him and me what we needed. I am so incredibly grateful for them.

What I have learned from all this is that God’s plan is the best plan. No matter what you expect out of something God will always give you what you need. My birth plan not going at all like I wanted it to taught me to go with the flow with the weeks following his birth. The experience taught me that my husband is a rock star who is always there for me and truly loves me. It taught me that even mamas need their mama. I learned so much and I am 100% a different person because of it. There is no shame in getting an epidural, there is no prize for giving birth “naturally”, no one will judge you for sending the baby to the nursery so you can sleep, especially when you had a c-section. Do what is best for you and forget what others think because it is your baby and your body and that’s all that matters.

 Til Next Time

Sarah ❤

Our Naturally Neutral Couples Baby Shower

My family threw us the most beautiful shower last month. I will be honest I was very micromanage-y when it came to this shower. What can I say, I like what I like. The theme was black and white with greenery, which is not technically a theme but more of a color scheme but that’s what I wanted. The big balloons, the succulents, the eucalyptus, it was all perfect. Everyone worked so hard to bring everything together the way I pictured it.

We had a huge taco bar with all of the toppings and possibilities that you could possibly imagine because you don’t want to not have WHATEVER you want on your tacos. Personally, I love cucumbers on my taco salad so I made sure we had those as well. We had tea and lemonade and an amazing punch made by my aunt. On top of that we had a bunch of fruit, my mom made chocolate covered marshmallows which were a huge hit with the kids and my sister made a HUGE C out of delicious cupcakes. The cake was gluten free and I promise I ate on that thing for a week and if you could keep a cake longer than that I would have ate on it for longer.

We felt so blessed to have so many people coming out to celebrate our beautiful boy and because of everyone’s amazing gifts we were able to get our nursery together and make it almost completely ready for his arrival. Now we are just waiting for baby boy.

Til Next Time

Sarah ❤