Products for Sale

100% wool blankets -- Our blankets start with raw fleeces from our Jacob sheep. After spring shearing the wool is sent to a family operated mill to be made into blankets. Colors remain the natural white and brown of the Jacob breed. The brown fleece of our aging sheep turns to a beautiful rich grey. Prices are: Queen $270 Single $195 Lap $145. We also sell yarn for $8 a skein. Lamb sales. Book of Poetry I Saw God Dancing by Cheryl Denise, published by Cascadia Publishing House, for $14.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Luke 15:4 by Dennis

Luke 15:4 "What man of you, having one hundred sheep, if he loseth one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he findith it?"

One problem with raising sheep is the constant reference and comparison to the "Good Shepherd." We at Shepherd's Field are not the "Good Shepherd", in fact, we are hardly the adequate Shepherd. We find it difficult to actually get up in the morning and feed them so to think of "laying down one's life for a sheep" seems unlikely at least and downright ludicrous at best. And so, we see, this story is so full of holes, I hardly know where to begin....
"A man has one hundred sheep"..... no one has one hundred sheep. Sheep do not come in even numbers, he probably had more like 97 or 103. We don't know how many sheep we have here at the farm. Depending on who you ask, we have between 18 and 22. A conversation at the farm meal usually goes something like this... "Did you count the sheep today?" "Yes, there were 19." "Hmmm, I thought there were supposed to be 20." "No, remember we had to put that one ewe down because her cough bothered Mike." And then someone else volunteers "I counted 21 yesterday." And along about February the ewes begin dropping lambs all over the barn which makes the accounting even more difficult. We have an accurate system for keeping track of the lambs that involves a poster board with all the ewes listed with their numbers and sometimes their given names: Sarah, Edna, Esther, Rachael, Fanny, Horney.... And sometimes with remarks like split ear, crooked horns, good mother, does not play well with other sheep, etc. And on the board we list the lambs with their corresponding numbers and date of birth. And every year we add up the numbers on the board... 28, and then count the lambs leaping around.... 29! I think it would take about 10 sheep to wander off before we would ever notice. And, I certainly don't want to be too critical of the writer of Luke, but if you doth leave the ninety and nine sheep in the wilderness on our farm, when the Good Shepherd returneth with his one lamb after about 20 minutes, the flock would be much easier to count from then on because it would consist of one lamb!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Economics of Chckens: Phase I and II by Dennis

Chickens have got to be one of the more productive and cost effective livestock to have on a farm- for what amounts to pennies a day they will give you one large brown, golden yolked, farm raised, free range, hormone free, hard shelled egg. To get the really hard shell you will need to give them crushed oyster shells. Now you can get the oyster shells at Southern States in Philippi but we prefer to import them from the East Coast because they seem to be... well more "oyster-like". The wimpy store eggs practically crack when you take them out of the carton- ours bounce when dropped from a height of 3 feet onto a hardwood floor. The golden yolk comes from the free range diet of insects, greens and worms. When you think of free range, the mind pictures a group of brown chickens roaming around haphazardly pecking at the lawn and scratching up great clouds of dust in the driveway looking for East Coast Oyster shells. But, unfortunately the farm dogs have discovered the concept of "free range" translates into dog talk as "free lunch chickens". And so, phase I of the operation came to an abrupt conclusion.
After much discussion and farm meetings, Mike was assigned the task of constructing a free range, chicken type, movable, dog proof pen. And it is rather clever- a long narrow pen completely covered with dog proof chicken wire, a hen house attached on one end and a series of doors and openings where the feed and water can go in and the eggs and poop can come out. This sets on wheels and has 2 long handles that one large Mennonite (or 2 small ones) can actually lift up and move to new pastures. The chickens are always dubious during the moving process and are running back and forth flapping and flipping out. And, if you lift your end up a little too high one of the chickens could possibly stick their head under the edge and make a final smacking sound when you drop the thing... I guess that could happen (right, Pam??). In the winter, the chickens need a light to turn on to wake them up (those lazy chickens) and also a water heater to warm the water for a cup of morning coffee. And, so the whole thing is tethered to the barn with a 100 foot orange extension cord... and looks like something The Beverly Hillbillies would park out by the cement pond. The eggs were great but Dennis had to kill 3 hens because of some mysterious egg vent problem. And then one night some critter that was just a little smaller than the dog-proof fence opening came in and had a 7 chicken massacre. Thus Phase II of our chicken raising enterprise was put on hold.

Now for the economics of raising chickens -
10 chickens = $24.80
*Feed = $135.50
Oyster shells = $18.70
Grit = $4.10
Waterer = $18.80
Heater = $22.10
Replacement of 10 chickens = $24.80
Materials for pen = $122.40
Extension cord = $12.00
Electric = $14.90
Grand total = $398.10
$398.10 / 37 dozen eggs = $10.76 per dozen

*We still have 200 pounds of feed left if someone, raising chickens along the information highway, needs any.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

After Saturday Pancakes

(Cheryl writing)
After Mike's wondrous pancake breakfast, topped off with good Canadian maple syrup (thanks Mom), Mike mapped out my morning walk. He wants to get a deer for Hostetlers. He got one for us already. I was to leave 5 min. after him. He would go to his tree-stand and I would hopefully scare up some deer for him. The instructions were, go past the old car in the woods, follow the gas line down to the upper main path, turn left, go the drive, out the road past the blue house (which has been red five years now but looked better blue), right into the woods, take the second path to the left and down to the tree-stand. I get a bit confused in the woods, well really I get confused in a lot of places. But I made it. I saw three oval patches of glistening red and brown leaves in the snow, last night deer beds. Later Mike showed me bear prints in the snow. Giant bear prints. Still no deer for the Hostetlers.
I canned some of our venison for the first time. Cooked the meat in a roaster at 400 degrees for eight minutes, then did a three hour boiling water bath. Still my dietitian friend made her Oh dear face after I told her. She believes in pressure caners and thinks we will not die but just may wish we were dead after eating our meat. I don't know how real woman who preserve most of their own food for the winter do it. I did 5 pints and 1 quart of venison and afterwards was almost too tired to stay awake for The Simpsons. Minnette says she has to believe that real women don't have jobs.
Last night was the Philippi Christmas parade, we took the Drooger kids, let them pick where to eat first. Chinese. What kids pick Chinese over McDonald's? After supper we choose our viewing spot. Eli wanted to be closer to the start of the parade, fearing they'd run out of candy near the end. It's five blocks. He filled his left glove full of Tootsie Rolls and chocolate kisses and dollar store hard candies, twice. Sarah said she was cold and Mike told her to do jumping jacks. She did three, concentrating on what opens and what closes and when. She said they made her warm. When the high school bands came she bobbed to the drums. Santa waved from atop his firetruck ladder, wishing Merry Christmas to all, as we do to you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Welcome to our Blog

(Hi this is Cheryl writing .) We have only been talking about setting this up for the last ten years or so. Reminds me of Pink Floyd's song lyrics, "ten years have come and gone, you missed the starting gun." Anyway here we are. We raise a small flock of Jacob sheep. These are spotted sheep with horns which the neighbor boys used to call goats. Each spring we shear them (by we I mean Mike, Dennis, Chad or Jair --- I just stand by in case someone needs a nurse). We send the wool to a family operated mill to be made into blankets and yarn which we sell. We used to have chickens but the hawks and coons and dogs have gotten them all --- maybe next spring -- although it seems we've been saying that for a while too. I grew up a town girl and would have never tried farming without having other people involved. Dennis says each year we could raise sheep or we could flush a hundred dollars down the toilet. It's a toss up. But there is something good to seeing their hard marble eyes and hearing them bleat in the mornings and watching them roam the field. But lately they've been getting out into the woods. Mike thinks they're eating acorns and that can't be good for them, can it? Well yesterday we locked them into the upper pasture by the barn for the winter. I hope we remember to fix that fence before we let them out in the spring.