We are a homestead/smallholding in northeastern Kansas. We raise Gulf Coast sheep to conserve the breed, keep our piece of prairie mowed, produce wool and yarn, and keep me getting out of bed each morning. We have many rescue cats, a horse, a few Icelandic chickens, and some ducks. We try to have a garden three (3) seasons out of the year. We aim to be as sustainable and self-sufficient as possible. Since we live far out, we do a lot of cooking and baking. We also spend most of our off-time on the farm.
How did I get into sheep? I once lambed a Hog Island ewe at Mount Vernon in the rain. My mother had hiked down to see the crypts and I stood under an eve and watched the sheep in a small lean-to in a paddock. One ewe was in labor, which I noticed out loud. A guy from Iowa wondered aloud where the shepherd was and tagged a passing employee who had a radio. As the sack with the lamb slid out and the ewe did nothing, I asked Iowa what needed to happen next (he grew up with cows).
He said it would suffocate unless the ewe licked it off or someone broke the membrane. I didn’t even hesitate and flicked the latch to the paddock open, to the dismay of the employee watching. He said, “You can’t be in there!” I said, ” I have to save its life!” I got to the lamb and pulled the membrane off, but the lamb wasn’t breathing. I asked Iowa, “What do I do now?!”
Iowa told me to take straw and tickle its nose, “That’s what we did with the calves anyways…” I stuck a wee piece of straw up its nose. BIG SNEEZE! *Entire crowd clapping* The ewe got up and came over to her lamb. The lamb was breathing and coughing/spluttering. The ewe proceeded to start licking and cleaning off her newborn.
The Mount Vernon employee was very thankful and let us all know the shepherd was on the way. They had no clue the ewe was pregnant when they recently purchased her. Hog Island sheep are a critically endangered breed and the ewe and lamb were very valuable. Its twin was on the way when my mother came back up the trail, soaking wet from the rain. It was time to go, but I never forgot that thrill of new life. I was entranced by sheep forever after.
We now live in unprecedented times, which means keeping livestock, gardening, farming, cooking/baking, preserving, DIY (#ILoveMacGyver) projects, being self-sufficient, living sustainably, utilizing regenerative agriculture, practicing conservation, planting hedges, working to homestead, and generally being resourceful, are more important than ever. I probably over-share and I’m a long-range planner, but it’s important that I learn from my own mistakes and successes. This blog is like my journal – so follow along, if you’d like. Ultimately, I believe in being proactive, but that it’s also about the people next to me.
Things changed for us in 2018 as we moved from central Florida to northeastern Kansas. (We used to be Sandhill Flats in Florida, but now we are Sand Hill Thicket in Kansas.) Follow along as we all adapt to the extremes of Kansas life! We’re not in Florida anymore, Toto.