A child after my own heart! Youngest son, college-bound Nathan, scored well at the second hand shops in Chillicothe today. He has decided to spiffy up his wardrobe from jeans and t-shirts to a bit better dressed these past months. Although his shoe purchases were high, there’s not much to be done with that. He still did well buying new. Honestly, he was in a shoe poor situation – everything he had is worn out and will be thrown away.
These past two months have been such a blessing with our whole family together at home. Daughter Jessica, returned in June from her two years in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, having taught kindergarten at The American School. She made so many friends, both at the school and the US Embassy. She had purchased a car and explored the countryside as much as possible on long weekends. On longer breaks, she took in Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. She was able to come home for visits occasionally. She will miss her classroom assistant, Ms Cuty, very much – she just loved that wonderful lady. As she gave me a hug (the boys and i visited Thanksgiving 2013), she says to me, ‘in the classroom, Miss Jessica is my boss, outside, she is my daughter.’ I will never be able to adequately thank this wonderful lady!.
Read about her experiences in her blog at The Honduras Experience.
Now, she has just landed in Dubai, UAE via Delta Airlines for her next two year stint at teaching. This time, she will be teaching kindergarten at Dubai American Academy, a world class private school.
Taking her to Kansas City International Airport yesterday was a difficult task for me. Emotionally, i’m just a basket case. Of course, i’m thrilled she has the courage, tenacity, and hard work ethic to graduate number one in her Central Methodist University class of 2013 with honors at age 21, then to apply for and obtain a foreign teaching job, then do it again, travel all over while she’s in those areas, but at the same time, I want her safe at home. But she’s probably not in any more in danger on her travels than she is on our north Missouri farm.
It was certainly nice not to have to leave home at 2am to make the flight like it was for Tegucigalpa! But it is now 23 hours from our house to her apartment in Dubai.
So, maybe i burst into tears occasionally because of the change? my children are grown and leaving (left) the nest? making lives of their own? Geesh, those should make me happy! What’s wrong here? I am happy – just not ready.
Since it is Friday, we probably won’t hear from here until Sunday or Monday, when she is settled into her apartment and utilities are turned on. What a difference in weather and culture! It’s currently 93 feels like 107F in Dubai – not bad, we’ve been having that in north Missouri, EXCEPT, it’s 1 am in Dubai.
“Planning and strategizing are OK, but most of life is in the trenches. It’s just a lot of hard work, commitment and you’re never done.” Tina Reichert, Brunswick, Missouri
Today started out with me castrating about 25 ram lambs. Thankfully, Dallas and Rick caught and held them for me – MUCH easier to have extra hands. To castrate lambs, one catches them up and holds their hind legs up to their front legs thereby the testicles are easy to grab hold of. The handler is holding the ram on his lap. I assured Rick I’d never missed before. I think i scared him a bit! 😉 (I did NOT use my teeth!) We also dewormed all the lambs as well as the ewes. That will help clean them up and get them gaining well before selling the lot on September 7 at Kirksville Livestock Auction at the special sheep sale that day. After selling off 54 lambs, 80 ewes, and 2 mature rams on Monday, we counted out about 51 lambs and and 52 ewes to sell the 7th, then I’ll be out of the sheep business.
This afternoon, I’m doing the washing and will clean up and around the barns in preparation for semen checking the bulls tomorrow and hauling out to the cows.
“Moussaka” is an Arabic word and a popular dish in many Middle Eastern countries, the immortal eggplant-and-lamb casserole is generally credited to the Greeks, who claim it as a national treasure. This recipe provides 8-10 servings.
1 large eggplant (or about 2 lbs)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground lamb
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
3/4 cup red wine or beef broth
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmet
White Sauce (see recipe)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
Tomato Sauce (see recipe)
Cut unpared eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. COok slices in small amount boiling, salted water (1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 cup water) until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain. Heat butter in 12-inch deep skillet until melted. Cook and stir lamb and onion until lamb is light brown: drain. Stir in tomato sauce, wine, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook uncovered over medium heat until half the the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Prepare White Sauce.
Stir 2/3 cup of the cheese, 1/3 cup of the bread crumbs and the egg into meat mixture; remove from heat. Sprinkle remaining bread crumbs evenly in greased oblong baking dish 13 1/2 x 9 x 2 inches. Arrange half the eggplant slices in baking dish; cover with meat mixture. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the remaining cheese over meat mixture; top with remaining eggplant slices. Pour White Sauce over mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cook uncovered in 375ºF oven 45 minutes. Prepare Tomato Sauce. Let moussaka stand 20 minutes before serving. Cut into squares; serve with Tomato Sauce.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Heat butter over low heat until melted. Blend in flour, salt, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, sitrring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Gradually stir at least 1/4 of the hot mixture into eggs. Blend into hot mixture in pan.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
Cook and stir onion and garlic in oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until onoion is tender. Add remaining ingredients except tomato paste. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. (Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water if necessary for desired consistency.
I use organic grassfed milk, eggs, and butter. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese and locally and organically grown tomatoes for sauces. You can buy organic tomatoes and paste in the stores. Thankfully, between what we raise ourselves and what i can purchase, it is all local and/or organic. Flavours are much better.
This was the first question posed to me after my speaking engagement with Farm Service Agency personnel in Kansas City on July 15. It was after the fact because it wasn’t pertinent to my purpose of being there and we had a limited time frame. Too bad on that, great group of people who truly seemed interested in the ‘boots on the ground’ aspect of farming and ranching.
Now, if you raise sheep and it is not difficult for you, then that is great. But my take on it is that they are far too time-consuming for my lifestyle choices and from a cost effective viewpoint. So bear with me. You can tell your story in your blog and I would like to read it!
Taking the emotion out and just putting economics to it:
Right now, the biggest economic advantage that sheep have over cattle or even goats, is the initial purchase price. Consider that a young bred cow costs $2500-$2800 compared to 5 bred ewes costing a total of $900-$1125. A cow will produce one calf ready to sell in about 10 months. Five ewes can potentially have 10 lambs to sell, but realistically, more like 7 lambs and they can be sold at about 7 months. Now, bearing in mind, that calves and lambs can be sold earlier or later, weaned and unweaned, etc, etc. So, I will try to compare the two the most fairly as possible, but market and weather conditions can often dictate a different scenario.
A 10 month old steer calf with no creep and unweaned, on average comes off momma at about 450 lbs, a heifer maybe 400 lbs. The steer, at auction at today’s prices, will bring $280/cwt or $1260 per head. The heifer about $1008 per head. Since the calf crop is typically 50% steers and 50% heifers, the average will be $1134.
A 50 lb lamb will bring about $1.75/lb and there is no differentiation between wethers and ewes. The average then would be $87.50/head. Better lambs should weigh 80 lbs at seven months, resulting in $980 total – but most likely, not all seven head will do that well.
Seven lambs to sell per year – $612.50-$980
One calf to sell per year – $1134
Labor – significantly more with sheep. They need nearly daily inspection since they tend towards getting caught in brush, fences, ditches, whatever, and need extracting. If not found at least in 24 hours, they will die. Even grown ewes can fall prey, resulting in not only the death of the ewe, but her unborn lambs or orphaning the ones she may already have. This means more work for you if you can figure out which ones are hers. You get to be mom for however long you keep them, including feeding them multiple times per day. The best investment for that task for me is a lamb milk bar with seven nipples.
Infrastructure (fence, water) – unless you are willing to install permanent type woven wire paddock fencing (very expensive), then the next choice is flexible fencing with electrified netting. Cost effective to purchase, but time consuming.
Consider: 100 ewes and their lambs will consume about 3% of their body weight (similar to cows), so assuming ewes weighing 180 lbs times 3% equals about 6 lbs of grass per day or 600 for the entire flock. If your pasture offers 200 lbs of forage per inch of growth and you have 7 inches of growth and want to leave a 3 inch residual (to facilitate regrowth), then there is 4 inches times 200 lbs or 800 lbs forage on offer. Say you only want to move them every three days, then they should have at least 3 acres. To fence 3 acres in a square takes 1450 feet. Electric nettings are 164 feet long, so you are moving 9 nettings every three days. Don’t be fooled by the advertising that touts that it only takes 10 minutes per net. No way. I’m pretty darn fast at it now, but by the time, you pull the posts, fanfold them, roll them up, tie them, walk to the next location (or load them all up and drive them to the new location), unload (but first you have to untangle them from each other if you stacked them), walk them back out, then step them into the ground (if it’s not frozen or the ground isn’t hard that is). So, for each netting, taken down and reinstalled, you’ve logged at least 656 feet, not counting if you’ve had to pack it a long distance before setting up again. I’m going to give a general 20 minutes per net. This doesn’t really allow much for when you have to hammer the feet of the posts into the ground or unhooking from snags, removing sticks, and just general untangling.
Nine nets times 20 minutes is 3 hours! that’s every three days for only 100 sheep! Compare the equivalent of cows and calves moving everything three days – about 30 minutes and that’s if you have to find baby calves that were left behind. The difference becomes even more significant when one considers that i can shift 250 cows and calves in maybe 45 minutes. These times are taking into consideration strip grazing in winter and taking out hay as well as the easier moves in the spring, summer, and fall. However, ramping up the number of sheep would incur significantly more netting and thus considerable more time. A single strand semi-permanent hi-tensile electrified wire is cheap and easy to install and wiill easily contain cattle and once the fencing is installed, it requires very little time to shift mobs of 1000 or more! Interior paddock division fencing that will actually contain sheep is definitely doable, but is considerably more expensive in materials and labor to install and maintain.
So to compare on a larger scale with 5 ewes equalling 1 cow.
250 cows with 80% calf crop – $226,800 income per year. Shifting every three days or 122 times per year at 45 minutes each for a total of 91.5 hours per year.
1250 sheep with 140% lamb crop – $183,750 (60 lbs times $1.75/lb). Shifting every three days or 122 times per year (this is used for comparison only – realistically, winter time will require set stocking and unrolling hay. The netting spikes cannot be pushed into and pulled out of frozen ground). If 100 ewes needed three acres, then 1250 need 38 acres. Perimeter at 5146 ft divided by 164 ft is 32 nets times 20 minutes per net equals 10.7 hours per move times 122 shifts. Hours spent annual moving fence and/or taking out hay is 1305 hours.
If you have better forage and soil health, paddock sizes could be much smaller, thereby reducing the amount of acreage needed for each shift which would subsequently require less netting.
Sheep in north Missouri must have good fences and excellent guard animals to keep them alive. Coyotes, foxes, eagles, dogs, etc nab them with abandon to feed their young. Sheep also have accidents – but so do cattle – but sheep seem to have a better knack for it.
The death of a sheep is a far less loss of investment than a calf or cow.
Sheep and cattle facilities are different, but if planned in advance there is a good opportunity to use the same corrals.
Some people do get along without netting. From visiting with them, they raise hair sheep and/or use aluminum electric wire which delivers a more powerful shock than hi-tensile. Wool sheep often cannot feel the shock at all, especially when in full wool.
Wool sheep are not ideal for range grazing since the wool clip can be practically ruint if they find a patch of cockleburrs or other clinging seeds.
Though i did not consider it in my time allotment, sheep, ideally, need checking everyday – that fence can be blown over or something chase the sheep into the fence and they get caught up or they flatten it. Rain and flood can knock it over, too. Animals can be caught up in it that need rescuing or they die and the rest will all get out and scatter! If you have 1000 acres and 2 sheep, in five minutes they’ll be at the far corners and separated. When the Scriptures talk about sheep going astray – there is the proof of it!
In my case, i have a 35 minute drive to my farm. Sheep are not practical at all if they are so far away that they cannot be checked on easily. With cattle, unless during calving season or unseasonably hot or cold weather, they don’t need attention anymore than once every three days or so. This greatly reduces my time spent on the road.
Sheep can be used to better clear brush and prepare pastures for renovation and improvement as long as their grazing is strictly controlled. Sheep get out a lot! Perhaps not out of the perimeter fence, but they, like all livestock, must stay within their alloted grazing or they’ll destroy a pasture. If you have beautiful, level pastures with no ditches, draws, dips, or washouts, yet shade in nearly all paddocks (sheep sunburn and get very hot in the summer), you may have an ideal situation for raising sheep.
The biggest advantage sheep have over cattle at least in today’s marketplace is the initial investment. And it is substantial. Taking our above example:
250 bred cow purchase@ $2500 is $625,000 (Requires 6 bulls for breeding – $5000 each or $30,000)
1250 bred ewes purchase $281,250 (Requires 25 rams for breeding – $500 each or $12,500)
However, nets cost $120 each and used regularly MIGHT last 2 years. And as shown the labor is much greater.
So there are advantages and disadvantages. To me, the market dictates raising cattle, because of the reduced cost of infrastructure and reduced labor. However, if one had 1250 ewes, in my opinion, the infrasture needs to be in place to eliminate the labor of netting. This is lots of posts and woven wire.
So, this all begs the question, ‘why did i purchase sheep in the first place?’ To be sure, my plan was that the sheep would basically live with and graze with the cattle and shift with them. However, this never came about since they would not be contained by the 3 wire hi-tensile electrified fencing I installed for this purpose. They learnt to jump through the two top wires, so that even though the wires were ‘hot’ the sheep were not shocked since they weren’t touching the ground as they jumped through. I don’t know if they learnt this by accident or watched the dogs do it. Plus any dip in the ground would provide a large hole for them to duck under. It honestly, is impossible, from a practical standpoint to make them stay within the enclosure. So, until i started containing them with the electric netting, they became regular fodder for predators despite guard dogs simply because they scatter like, –well, sheep. From then on, i have two groups of animals to shift, with the sheep requiring far too much time for what they were worth.
So, the sheep will be sold over the next couple of months to free up time for family matters, to improve my sanity, and give my poor old bones a needed rest.
There are other major expenses involved to have such a scheme. Not the least of which is needing about 1000 acres, which at current prices in north central Missouri is about $2800 to $3400 per acre. (IF you can find it for sale) Some people are very fortunate to find pasture to rent, but consider whether or not you’d want to make $150 per acre in infrastructure on someone else’s property. You’d need a lifetime lease to justify that and they can still sell the land and you’d be out. Plus the owner may not be agreeable to crisscrossing his or her property with fencing. Remember, too, the animals have health issues including treating for disease (albeit very seldom), vaccinations, castrating, as well as marketing and trucking expenses.
These past two weeks have seen the passing of two men in our family. One 96 and one 94, both honorable, productive, giving, honest men who loved their wives without fail. Family men who as young men served in World War II, both in the US Navy, the former skippering supply ships in the South Pacific, the latter as a tail gunner.
It’s hard to imagine what life was like 90 years ago: few families had cars, dirt roads, one room school house. Likely, they helped chop firewood for the schoolhouse potbellied stove each morning, shot rabbits or squirrels for supper on the way home from school, milked cows (by hand), slept with warm rocks at their feet in bed in winter. Only 2% of rural homes had electricity or running water.
Neither one would have known nearly 100 years ago, that when laid in their mother’s arms, they would never experience more forgiveness, understanding, and love at that moment that is humanly possible. And mom’s heart was bursting with happiness with a beautiful baby boy. What wonders would their lives behold?!
Be like the Bereans….
So, you are not a puppet or a parrot? Then I assume you are willing to wrestle with a few challenging questions….
- Have you ever wondered why or how pagans, Wiccans, Buddhists, Hindus and virtually everyone else in the world can celebrate Christmas even though they have/desire no relation with the Messiah?
- Have you ever stopped to wonder why the ancient Greeks and Romans were celebrating a day of festivities complete with tree, ornaments, gifts and parties in late December more than 300 years before the Messiah was born?
- Have you ever heard, or dared to look up the word ‘Saturnalia?’
- Have you ever considered the fact that December 25th is regarded as the birthday of more than a dozen pagan gods?
- Have you ever wondered what Yehovah meant when He said, “…beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before…
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