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Agriculture Winter

Winter Around the Ranch

Until a couple of weeks ago, we have had a very mild winter. This week temperatures won’t even get above 15 degrees Fahrenheit with windchills below zero. This coming weekend they are forecasting -30 windchills! It appears that all of our winter is happening within a few weeks!

Even though it is frigid outside the animals all still need to be fed and watered daily. We are thankful for warm clothes and a warm house to go into after chores!

I thought I would share some photos from the last couple of weeks. The cold doesn’t seem to impact the animals as much as it does us, as long as they have plenty of food and a place to get out of the wind, so you will see them out in the weather. It really is amazing how God designed each of them perfectly.

And remember, if this cold weather has your skin dry and itchy, we have plenty of our goat milk soap, lotion, & lip balm to help you out in our Ranch Store. We are always making more small batches of soap to try and keep your favorites in stock!

Categories
Agriculture Fall Finnsheep Goats Hair sheep Livestock Projects Sheep Uncategorized Winter

Fall/Early Winter Update

I have sat down several times to update everyone about what we have been up to this past fall but wasn’t ever able to get this post finished. Well, here we are in the middle of January and I finally have an update for you! This update will be told in photos because that’s the only way I can remember what we have all done!

I plan to do more regular updates this year to help everyone follow along with what we do. This will also allow us to better share our story with you.

*Lotion will be restocked on Friday! There will also be new lotion scents and lip balm added soon!

We are so grateful to all of our customers who supported us this past holiday season and we look forward to serving you in 2021!

Post does contain affiliate links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The pond in September. It has been dry this fall and the pond was already getting low. It is a couple of feet lower now.

We’ve had two litters of piglets this fall.

It was warm enough in September and October that Colton had to keep the pigs mud hole filled with water. They love to lay in it when it’s hot outside.

The sheep & goats do an excellent job of cleaning up poison ivy and other unwanted plants under the trees along our dam.

The goats always prefer to eat the weeds, trees, or poison ivy before the grass.

It doesn’t seem to matter if its human or animal mama’s – they just can’t eat or drink in peace!

Some of the fungus we found in an old tree stump during one of our nature studies.

I dried some marigolds and pokeberries for dying yarn later. If anyone has recommendations on books to read about naturally dying wool please share them with me! The only book I have right now is Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes

We also made a marigold garland. It was pretty above the kitchen sink.

Goat Milk Lotion was added to the store in November! It will be restocked on Friday (1/15/21).

Hailey ran at State Cross Country. Hailey and Cody both had a great season in high school cross country. In addition to helping with the farm and being a full-time independent insurance agent, Lance is the head cross country coach for our local high school. He is also an assistant track coach in the spring. Yes – we are busy!

We started bale grazing November 1st. I will be sharing a post about bale grazing and what we are learning about regenerative agriculture in a later post.

Lane does an excellent job of caring for his chickens and ducks.

This girl is so sweet. She always wants a chin scratch. Finnsheep were definitely the right choice for our family.

I can’t wait to shear the sheep this coming spring and see what we can have done with all of the fiber! I’m hoping to have combed top as well as yarn made this year.

I will never tire of watch a Kansas Sunset. The top of our hill is the perfect spot to watch it.

Due to a freak accident, we had to buy a new Finnsheep ram. Lance and I traveled to Iowa to purchase one the day after Thanksgiving. He is gorgeous, both in confirmation and fleece. It will be fun to see what kind of lambs we get in the spring.

Isn’t he lovely?!?

The second litter of piglets – they are now weaned and available for purchase as feeder pigs. Just contact us if you are interested in purchasing one!

Lane’s chickens and ducks have started laying eggs. I have yet to capture a good photo of the blueish/green eggs.

I made Hailey pose for a picture after we finished putting straw out in the barns in November.

The Chicken Palace received a new sign and barn light! When it warms up the doors will also be painted.

We were blessed to be able to attend a couple of different vendor days locally. Our new lip balm will be added to the store within the next couple of weeks.

Very grateful that Lance can usually take my ideas and make it a reality when it comes to building things. I showed him a picture of a display shelf and tried to explain how I wanted to change it a little. Somehow he was able to figure out what I wanted and made these great little shelves!

At least one Saturday a month (more if cold weather is on the way) is spent replenishing straw in all of the barns. Even Kinzie helps put new straw out.

The rams were pulled out of the ewe flocks this past weekend. They didn’t want to get along at first (hormones….) so they got to spend a couple of days in a very tiny space. This allows them time to get acquainted but without the fighting. If we didn’t put them in this small pen, they would have just spent hours or days backing up to get a running start and head butting each other. We use the small pen to keep them from hurting each other.

I’ve also been crocheting in the evenings! This is a wool/acrylic blend yarn (Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick Yarn(3-Pack) Hudson Bay 640-610). I love the variegated colors and this simple, single stitch I’m using on this afghan really shows the color pattern nicely. I spent most of November and December crocheting a shawl to give as a Christmas gift to someone.

We hope you all have a wonderful and blessed 2021! Thank you for being a part of 14 Hands Ranch.

~Jada

Post does contain affiliate links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Categories
Goals Hair sheep Livestock Sheep Sheep

Meet our Flock

The other day I realized that I have never shared much about our flock of sheep! Since the sheep are big part of our ranch, I feel like they should have their own post.

Our flock started with two registered Dorper ewes in 2015. These were a Christmas gift to Hailey from her aunt. They were named Daisy and Tulip. Daisy was always very friendly and the leader of the flock. Tulip never did like to come very close to us but she was always a good mama. Sadly, we lost both of them this summer.

After a couple of years with Daisy and Tulip, Hailey applied for a starter flock through the Kansas Sheep Association. She was selected to receive 6 ewes from a local producer that raises hair sheep. Most of his sheep are a breed called Easy Care. This is a composite breed of white Dorper, Khatadin, and Romanov sheep.

Dorpers and Easy Care sheep are both Hair breeds. This means that they will shed their wool in the spring/summer months, leaving only hair. Some hair sheep will have a “mat” of wool left on their back, only shedding the sides and belly wool. The sheep that completely shed do get a little bit of a sunburn at the first of the summer but are then fine.

The hair sheep flock are all Hailey’s. It provides a little income for her, as well as, teaching her valuable lessons in responsibility, caring for others, and is something that she can continue to do as she goes on to college and beyond.

This past winter I began exploring the idea of purchasing a wool breed for Lance & I to raise. I have always been fascinated with wool breeds and love yarn and wool products so I thought it would be a good fit. I did quite a bit of research on breeds and wool. Lance said that I had to prove that it would be profitable to raise wool sheep before he would agree to buying any. So in my effort to prove to him that it was a good idea, I called wool mills and spoke with people already in the fiber world. Once I had narrowed down my list of possible breeds to two, I called and messaged several breeders and spoke to them about their sheep. Luckily, everyone I talked to said it was a “no brainer” to have a flock of wool sheep that produced a finer fleece for making yarn and combed top.

When my research was complete, I decided that Finnsheep would be the best fit for us. They are very friendly and produce a beautiful fleece. Finnsheep are also known for being very prolific (they can have 1-5 lambs in one breeding) which is great for quickly building up a flock.

Using the Finnsheep Breeders Association, I found a breeder in Missouri. This was the closest one that I was able to find. In July, Lance & I went to pick up 10 ewes and 1 ram. I am happy to report that I am in love with them! They have the sweetest personalities and their fleece feels wonderful! I can’t wait for our first shearing next spring to see what we get.

I am hoping that by next summer or fall, we will have some wool products to offer to our customers, as well as lamb meat for local customers.

While being a shepherd is a lot of work, there isn’t much better than standing out in your pasture surrounded by your flock.