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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call me (Sarah Beth) 715-733-1117 or Josh 651-350-8379