How much has happened at the homestead since our last posting! It is hard to write it all, so I will pen it in more of a conversational flow. Let’s take a breath, pretend to have a seat, and a a cup of coffee and relax…

Those sheep we started with have grown in numbers. Up and down as we raised some, butchered some, sold some, branched out into lambing and milking, soap making, and more meat and cheese making, so yeah, that happened. We have some pregnant ladies right now, and are expecting 10-20 lambs, which is pretty exciting.

We also have 2 rams, who fight a lot, which is pretty frustrating, and has made for more than one repair to the barn and some veterinary attention I would rather do without (grrr….boys).

We did a lot of building out of our milking parlor, learning about creameries, working on helping to make cheese with the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Co-Operative, selling their cheeses, making and testing out batches of our own sheep milk soaps, and experimenting with different shelters for the fields for the sheep (we eventually settled on old chicken tractors with hay around for insulation during the less cold months).

Anyways… those sheep keep us really busy! And this year we plan on gaining another 50 or so, some of which we will be keeping on as our permanent flock for 2023 as we continue to grow our homestead operations.

And chickens… which I completely neglected to mention at all blog-wise yet… We got us some chickens. I like them because they are pretty easy to maintain. Our dog likes them too, ha. And when she was a pup I had to watch her like a hawk because she liked to eat their eggs and play with the roosters (which they did NOT like). More than once I thought for sure I had a dead rooster and would be cursing my dear dog’s name, go in for a baggie, only to come back to a miraculously missing chicken who had run away after playing dead long enough for my dog to walk away from the scene. She learned to leave them alone and now all is well.

We started with about 12 production reds and 1 rooster of mixed background, and then got a whole bunch of European variety Rainbow Eggers who laid mixed colored eggs (lovely, highly recommend that!) – and now we have about 35 layers and 4 roosters (which they can be pretty comical with one another) and a LOT of eggs.

We also started doing runs of chickens. Lessons we learned – 1) we did not like Cornish Cross straight runs of males (too fat with too many health issues, so many heart attacks and strokes we had an unacceptable death rate; 2) would not do an early spring run (again too much death, we think it’s just too cold where we like in NW Wisconsin where we like for that); 3) finish up before it’s too cold (for us that is by about mid October) .

We were able to squeeze in 3 runs that way, and split it up with whole and quarter chickens processed at a USDA chicken processing facility so we could sell it at the farmer’s markets. Worked out great and also nice for trading with and blessing our neighbors.

Our plan this year is to make a garden mostly for ourselves. We got a large cultivator which was great for between rows, til it broke down, so we are working on getting that fixed with warranty. We also got a smaller gas powered one as well to get between plants. Highly recommend.

We always over do the garden, so we plan on scaling down a bit this year. At the farmer’s markets we service, we bring our lamb, chicken, soap, and cheeses, but there are vendors for produce, so we don’t grow for that.

This year we do plan on planting for various squash varieties for an end of driveway stand in the fall with a good faith box. Maybe doll up our old pick up for that and commission our artistic daughter for that. I always loved that truck at the Potter’s Shed in Shell Lake… maybe we can do something neat like that… although I am sure not that awesome cause well… they are pretty great if you haven’t seen them yet. We also order seeds through Fedco seeds, you should check them out, they are very good!

This is the year equipment purchasing most likely. We need to get a few things…. and I actually mean a few very ex-pan-sive things… like a tractor, plow, haying equipment, outdoor wood boiler, milk house building out, and extra fencing. There is always more to list…. but this is hopefully some of what we might accomplish this year.

Job wise this year brought a lot of changes for us both. Like a lot of farmers we work too. The sweet organic farm Josh worked for since we got back to America needed to downsize and Josh began a new job working overnight care with kiddos in residential for mental health. I (Sarah Beth) had a worsening of some back problems and had to leave my job working residential for kiddos with mental health and became a mentor for all ages of people with mental health and addiction issues and am loving my new role. Both of our jobs let us work and still do our jobs we do for the farm at the same time and have our 7 kiddos as home and all the crazy in life pretty well (most of the time 😉 .

Our kids are growing fast. Since settling down in Frederic, we have continued to make wonderful friends with our neighbors, church, families through schoolmates, sports, local businesses and are enjoying our small town life. I love knowing the people we do life with here. We got connected to a local church, Crosswalk Community Church, and if you don’t have one and are a local, we highly recommend it. Lots of love there. We love hard, and love fast, and I love my girlfriends and their families. I laugh hard, cry a lot, drink a lot of coffee, do nails, hold hands, and talk/text a lot on the phone… so yeah… just thankful. Its been a hard couple of years in a lot of ways, but also very good. And the people in my life, and the God, are the highlight. Thankful, as always, is the theme.

Anyways, hoping this is finding you all blessed, and looking forward to the 2022 Market season coming up soon! Sales and visits welcome…. just contact us! Email joshandsarah@sonsanddaughtershomestead.com or call me (Sarah Beth) 715-733-1117 or Josh 651-350-8379

Gearing Up for the Farmer’s Market

Our very first Farmer’s Market appearance is set to happen in June, woot, woot! We will be at the Spooner Farmer’s Market from 8am to 12pm June 12th through October 2nd for the 2021 season.

It has been an exciting (and admittedly occaisionally stressful) time to for us here at Sons and Daughters Homestead, and I thought I would share a few thoughts about it here and some tips and products we found helpful for those of you who might be considering selling at a Farmer’s Market. Spring is so busy with all the planning, planting, building out, etc… So hopefully this will be a list that will make some of it easier for you all.

One really nice thing about the Farmer’s Market is the comradery with other farmers and goods providers. This year I went through our contact list to talk with others who were selling similar items to us to get a feel for acceptable market prices, and it was a lot friendly conversations and kind words. The general feeling is we are all there supporting one another and rooting for each other!

After getting in contact with the market organizers earlier in the year, we attended a meeting this month before the market opens, where we were given all the information about what supplies are needed, rules, and contacts, which was helpful. We have done Farmer’s Markets for other businesses in the past, but never our own.

We already knew a lot of the general supplies we would need from prior experience, and some were items we hadn’t thought. Here is a list of what we bought, and maybe it will help you think through your own if you are gearing up too:

10’x10′ Canopy from Walmart (this was also the size the market required)

Various items from Amazon: Canopy Weights, 8′ Table, Scale, Money Box

Record keeping items from a local printing co-operative: Carbon Copy Receipts, Book for Records Keeping of Expenses and Incomes, G-2 Pens (they’re my fav)

Digital Currency Processors from Square: Square Contactless Reader, Square Cell Phone Mag Stripe Reader (they have jack and Apple plug options)

Marketing Materials from Vista Print : Chalk Board Sign, Magnetic Business Cards, 4″x8: Rack Cards, Brochure Holder, 2.5’x4′ Vinyl Banner with Grommets and Reinforced Sides, 8′ Limited Print 4 Side Table Cloth, Table Clamps, and (2) 12″x24″ Car Magnets

Food Storage from Menards: Criterion® 7.0 – 7.2 cu. ft. White Manual Defrost Chest Freezer (Model Number: F72019), Bestek® 2000 Watt Power Inverter (Model Number: MRI20011 – will plug into the truck adapter), and a Smart Choice®Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer (Model Number: L304432837)

I also got a PDG® 8′ Folding Banquet Table ( Model Number: 803) from Menards too.

Shirts and Hats from a shop our daughter’s friend’s family owns in town, Frederic Design

Obsiously, you don’t have to have hats or shirts, and our market organizers actually gave us a shirt (they rock), but it sure is fun to design and wear your own gear! Samples coming soon here. If you opt to go this route, be sure you design and order your items well ahead of time, so you have them when you need them!

As far as the rest of it, I personally designed our own marketing materials. I have been doing graphic design for quite some time. For some of us, that might be intimidating, and I really like how Vistaprint has an option to have their team help you design your own items. Here are some examples of what we did:

Magnetic Business Cards

4″x8″ Rack Card


Vinyl Banner

Table Cloth

Car Magnets

For the homestead I decided to also purchse a 10′ Flag for the front, and a flag auger to secure it well. We live in a windy area and I don’t want it to blow away! Here is the design I made, and again, don’t get intimidated, there are designers that can help you and it’s as easy as opening up a chat box to get going at Vistaprint:

10′ Flag

I hope you find this all helpful! Happy farming!

7/7/2021 UPDATE:

Some more helpful information on signage and labeling that I found was that if you gross $5,000 or more in a year (that’s before deductions), you need to not have organic in your materials unless you are certified. There seemed to be some debate about “organically-raised”, but to be safe, I decided not to do this. With our site we emphasize how we raise our animals and make our products, which are local (only sold within 400 miles of our homestead), pastured (spending the majority of the time with access to open areas – we live in Northern Wisconsin, so our animals are in a barn or coop over the coldest parts of winter briefly), and organically-supplemented (we give very small amounts of organic grain to our sheep, so they are not 100% grass fed after weaning, and we also give organic grain to our chickens, because despite that they are pastured, they could not survive off of grass only and therefore no chicken is ever grass-fed). Cutting to the point, I had to redo some of our marketing materials and signage, so here are our updated versions:

I wanted our contact info more easily and separately readable, so I opted for yard signs leading up to our large flag, rather than more large flags, and used plastic base holders, which was much more economical for us and I think a bit more eye catching
Here is our updated banner for the Farmer’s Market. To avoid the additional cost of designing and ordering another table cloth (which was great quality), I decided to go with a fitted (translate less able to be wind-blown) table cover like this from Amazon:
New Car Magnets

Homestead Blessings – Counting Them the First Year

As I reflect on our first year here, I am also overwhelmed with a sense of neighborly blessing, gratitude for relationships, and provision. We truly have seen God bless our hearts and bless us in practical ways through our neighbors, family, and both new and old friends as we have settled in.

For a little background, when we lived overseas, our neighbors would often come over with little to no notice and personal space was quite different from the “bubble” of comfortable distance we usually experience in America. I worried when we returned that it might be difficult to make friends with neighbors, due to our famed American independent streaks. I was wrong!

When we purchased our property, we bought it from an owner, that lived across the street from the property, which made me a little uneasy wondering if it would be a good neighbor situation, especially when we hit a few hiccups in the purchasing process. At one point, we didn’t even think we would get a second pass at the property and had moved on to looking elsewhere! I can happily say I am glad for the purchase working out.

The wife was extremely kind to one of our kiddos who struggles with sensory issues. They made a unique friendship and my daughter benefitted from a special experience of learning to care for horses, time spent in gardens, cross-country skiing, wrapped in the warm welcome of a kind neighbor. For a kiddo who sometimes struggles to believe in her likeability, it was a huge blessing to see her excitement for visits with our neighbor. Pre-pandemic, I also relished the opportunity to have someone over for tea and a visit.

The same neighbors grow apples and some produce, and often brought both to our door, invited our children to help with their gardens, and multiple rounds of delicious benefits from raspberry picking. Memories of Kool-Aid, kind words, and the confidence boosting effect of being helpful were sweet. A few times the husband also brought some corn from a nearby farm where he was allowed to glean from and shared the bounty with us. Such nice surprises! They also own a large amount of property, and therefore equipment, more than once plowing us out, as well as helping to hay our fields, and other property and garden helps learning the ins and outs of the property.

Our other neighbors next door own a blueberry farm. Kind and open to our children, our kiddos once again proved a bridge to relationships with others. They laughed at their silliness, and allowed us to glean from their massive blueberry farm after the peak of picking season. The pandemic of 2020 began disrupting our social gathering efforts, but they still would come by every now and then to say hello, and often bearing the gift of berries.

I found myself very grateful also for our adventurous children, who often pursued getting to know our neighbors and connected us all the more. One or our other neighbors I am sure we might never have met was an older woman off the trail on the back 15 acres we rent. One of my kiddos loves to walk the dog that way and decided to take some siblings with them to introduce themselves to her. They have gotten to know her and her puppy well.

I even had a friend my daughter had made whose mother made efforts to connect with us shortly after we moved here, coming to our games night at church. She volunteers at a food distribution, and would come by our home to deliver extra boxes to bless us. Our interactions have been brief and distanced due to the pandemic, but it has been nice to once again, have the opportunity to connect with others through our children.

Another wonderful benefit of landing here in Wisconsin was being close to our parents and sister, as well as a church we went to often when visiting, a home away from our multiple homes when we did independent contracting and missions and moved eleven times in eight years. Josh’s parents and the church have been a wonderful anchor of steadiness in the strange times we are in. We also were able to see and interact more with our sister and her family, which was a huge blessing for the children to get to be with their cousins more regularly. Relationships have their heartaches, but we walk them out together, and to do so in person has been so sweet.

One thing I was surprised by was how we all had opportunities because of our gardens and animals to bless one another. We enjoyed gifting chickens to our family and neighbors. It was exciting to be wrong about my assumptions of what it would be like returning to America.

We also accomplished so much more than we thought we would at the homestead this year. Initially we only planned to grow out 5 feeder sheep, butcher them in the fall, grow a small garden, then perhaps expand to other things the following year. We had unexpected provision to work on multiple additional projects, including obtaining dairy sheep, only slaughtering 2 of our feeders, winterizing and preparing a barn for them and for lambing out, haying, outfitting one of our sheds for a coop area, getting laying hens and a rooster (one who hatched a few chicks of her own!), getting our new Rainbow Eggers, plowing a field and using space to provide room for the organic farm Josh works at to have pumpkin, squash and some other produce, canning, chopping wood, multiple home repairs and painting, and getting our sheep dog and training her. I (Sarah) also had our seventh baby this year, and she is about to turn one year old! Anyone who has witnesses a child as they develop toward toddlerhood can likely attest to the wow-factor the transformation from newborn to one year is. As I think back, it is pretty amazing all that happened outside of our original plan. God is good at providing, and what a bunch He has given us this year!

I look forward to board games around the table, tea, bonfires, suppers, and all the connectedness it feels like this year paused. Despite this, what an incredibly blessed year for relationships. Sometimes I find myself needing to remember all the good and blessing, rather than grumbling about the “should be different”s. It helps my heart to be content with the present, grateful for the past, and continue to hope for the future.

Reflecting on the First Year with Sheep

This year we started out with 5 feeder sheep, which the children named, even though we we intended to butcher them and told them not to. So we had our adorable first lamb, Buttercup, Black Eye, Parmesan, Netflix, and Poptarts. Our thought was to have just feeders this year so as to avoid build out costs and renovations for wintering the sheep. So we built out our lamb stalls and purchased our Trade Lake feeders through Love Tree Farmstead.

We fell in love with our little sheep quickly. They were so cute! We found out that they can memorably identify with up to 50 people and sheep in their herd. Pretty neat! It was fun to have them be so excited to see us. We did loose Buttercup, the prettiest little lamb, early on, later finding out that she likely had too much supplemental grain and died from bloat. She would always hog the treat tin. Be careful with those lambies!

Then we got excited about the idea of milking sheep, and ended up buying our milking pair, Rambo and Snowy (they came with those names!) in the summer. Funny story, when we found an advert about some sheep on Craigslist, we had no idea we were actually about to make a purchase from a coworker in the same company I (Sarah) work at, so we made some new friends as well with the The Little Schoolhouse In the Woods. For the curious, Snowy is mostly East Friesian, with maybe a 1/4 icelandic, and a dash of Awassi. Rambo is East Friesian and Icelandic. He has the most beautiful yellow eyes too!

It was a little tricky at first integrating them with our flock. Rambo and Snowy were an established pair, and our little feeders were pretty leery of them. Snowy was also a bit aggressive at times, butting the little sheep around, and being skittish when we would move the pasture. Rambo was a pretty sweet guy, and gentle, despite his extremely loud and low bleat and general hugeness compared to the other sheep. Eventually, they learned to live with each other, but it was still clear our feeders preferred one another and Rambo and Snowy also spent most of the time to themselves.

We also decided to keep a few of our original feeders and attempt to have our own feeders birthed this Winter / Spring (to be fair, spring is still winter here in Northwestern Wisconsin). We also didn’t separate our ram from our ewes during mating season, so it’s even more likely we will have late Winter or very early Spring births.

We also learned about hoof trimming, and that was a task my husband Josh decided to tackle, quite literally, himself. This is definitely something that if I were Josh-less, I would need some extra equipment for holding the sheep in place, as my brute strength isn’t up to this task, but his is! Some of the quick moves to put the sheep in submission and hold them were cringe-worthy on my part. Josh is the man, man.

I also found myself often worrying if we were doing things well, wanting to take the best care of the sheep as possible. We build a little shelter for them for the rain / wind / heat, which Rambo and Snowy would often kick the little feeders out of. Worrying if we needed to build a second shelter, did they have enough protection from bugs and elements, do they need medical attention, how best to feed them, do they need a supplement, etc…

To be sure that was stressful for a detail oriented person like myself. I highly recommend this book:

We also found a resource for supplies that was helpful when we couldn’t find something from Farm & Fleet or Menards, which is Valley Vet, and they had very fast shipping when we needed items.

Another resource we found helpful was Premier1. We got our netted electrified fence through them. Another cool thing about the fence is it has a solar powered battery, so it is very economical too! We got two paddocks worth, and being movable was a big plus! How big you need depends on the size of your flock. I would have rather gotten a second charger to separate our ram this year for later lambing in hindsight. They have a helpful tool on their site for gauging what type of fence and how much you need.

We also experimented with haying some of the property this year with the help of our neighbor, who also sold us the property. They have a horse, and for payment for using his equipment, time and effort, he got half. We did some lighter half bales so the kids could help gather them from the field. They had a lot of fun “swimming” in it, and also got a lot of bug bites… lesson learned. Don’t swim in hay! Even with splitting the hay bales, we were able to get enough that even with 3 pregnant ewes and our ram, we should not likely have to get any more hay before the pasture becomes available again, which was pretty exciting.

We used more budget building out for the winter with our new plans to lamb out and milk the sheep. We sourced wood from a nearby small shop and built out a side of our shed that had an overhand into a barn, which turned out pretty great. Yet another moment of Josh shining. He is one of those guys who can YouTube and do a Google search for a project he wants to do, then get to work and just do it. I am not that person. I need a manual! So again, handy hubby to the rescue for the sheep and the budget.

Overall, it feels pretty accomplished to have the barn winterized and ready for the sheep. There are still some extras we need to accomodate for the coming extreme cold, but our winter has been relatively mild after an early cold snap and snow. January will be another story…

Here are a few more cute posts of the the sheepies and some other homestead pics:

%d bloggers like this: