Friday, January 15, 2010

Ask The Farmer

A few evenings ago while we were sitting in our cozy little television/book room I asked The Farmer if he would be up for answering reader’s questions on the blog. I wasn’t sure what the response would be because he is a rather quiet man who likes doing what he has to do and doesn’t bother much with lots of friends and other people. But here’s the good news….. He said “Yes, sure, why not?”

So here’s your project for the weekend. I’m calling it “Ask The Farmer.” Here is your chance to leave a question in the comments section of this blog with a question you have for The Farmer during Lambing Season. I know many of you live in cities far away from us and you probably wonder what living on a sheep farm is all about. Goodness knows my mom in NJ wonders what is going on up here...... I try to cover lots of bases but It is hard for me to anticipate everything you want to know so this is your chance…..

Leave a question in the Comments Section and The Farmer and I will have a go at it. I will type as he speaks. He doesn’t type nor do computers - big surprise there. You probably get the picture - I think the term Luddite describes him. I can’t promise he will answer every single question but the ones that are the most interesting and occur multiple times in the list will definitely be answered. It all depends on our weekend and how many lambs are born.

To tell you the truth, I think he is really into this whole blog thing. He feels it is our/my mission to educate the greater knitting/crafty public about agriculture, sheep farming, and sustainable agriculture. And this blog sure is great for it......



There you go – your homework for the weekend. Here are some cute lambie photos to send you on your way……. A mama and her twins relaxing in the yard.

Cuteness to the max....

Bringing a new set of twins into the barn. If you hold them by their front legs, the mother can better smell them and will follow easier than if you hold them upright in your arms where they are covered with human scent. This is nature with humans helping. Every day lambing is miracle after miracle.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why do your sheep lamb in the winter when it is so hard o be outside the extra needed time? Is it because you have them more contained in the barn? Wouldn't spring or fall be easier on you?

Mia said...

I am wondering about the rest of the farm--do you grow other crops? Do you have a large (or small) vegetable garden/plot? How did you get started as a farmer??

Kim said...

This is probably not a question worth answering, but I am wondering.
I know you raise your sheep for eating, but what do you do with the fleece?
Kristin, the photos you take of farm life are exceptional. I love looking at them. You share so much of your life- Thank you!

Beth said...

I don't really have a question for the farmer, but just want to say how much I love reading the lambing blog posts and feel so connected to the land and the farm and life! This morning in my quiet Bible reading time I came across this verse:
"the lambs will provide your clothing." Proverbs 27:26a I chuckled and told my husband that was the "knitter's verse." The preceding verses talk all about "knowing well the condition of your flocks..." Made me think of you and yours. All the best...and thanks!

Lynn said...

Question #1: What happens to your fleeces when the sheep are sheared? Any chance you'd think about selling the best ones for handspinning?

Question #2: I have a 15-year-old friend who has been breeding Shetlands and the occasional Cheviot or other breed for fleece and meat for as part of a 4H project. She is doing great - she's very dedicated and has won numerous ribbons. She's thinking she'd like to raise animals when she grows up. How best can she do this (besides marrying a farmer!)?

diana said...

Thank you for sharing your lives with us like this. I'd also like to know how you came to be a farmer. Did you take over a family farm? Switch types of farming? Or come to it from a completely different way of life?

Deborah said...

My question has been asked. I'm also curious about the fleeces.

I rather like the dreadlocks the sheep on the left (in the second photo) has going.

Jan Morrison said...

I am interested in how the farmer became the farmer too. I have a lot of farming in my lineage although it only took a bit with me (garden and chickens). Is there a political urgency with the farmer? Does he get discouraged at the lack of concern on the part of the governments of our lands (I'm Canadian but I am aware it is much the same)?

GodfreyKate said...

I'd like to know more about how ewes identify their lambs? What leads them to reject one?

Also...I came across a mention of a shepherd placing a seemingly dead lamb in a small oven in the house to warm it up during lambing season.

I'm such a city girl. To be honest I pictured the lamb being tucked into a toaster oven with its little hooves hanging out. That can't be right, but can't you say something about the art of reviving lambs?

Thanks, Kristin, for not sparing us the sad details along with the good of farming. I will never take what a farmer does for granted, after reading your posts.

Anonymous said...

Following along with you guys has been wonderful....
As a city kid and vegetarian for 30 years (we started meat again 3 years ago) I have a hard time with the idea of eating animals you know personally....did I say I was a city kid? ha ha ha
Anyway, how do you decide which ones to eat? Do you ever get so attached to any of them you just can't eat them? In my naivete it would be like eating my cats...who goes next?
Thanks so much!
Susie
TheAntiquePalette.com

Penny said...

i'll have to think some more about my questinos, but i can say that i'd be interested in a fleece.

lisa said...

What is your favorite part of farming? What is your hardest/least favorite part of farming?

Sara said...

How much husbandry does The Farmer do? Shots, preventive medications, castrations?

I've seen you mention moving the sheep to differnt fields. Do you own all the land your sheep graze on? Do you "crop" share with friends and neighbors? What is the average estimation for calculation the acreage needed to feed your sheep?

I'm more familiar with horses and cows than sheep, though I've raised several sheep for 4-H. But that was just a few months of care and then they went back to the sheep farmer. He'd give me a baby sheep that lost it's momma, to bottle feed. I was a teenager, so that was many years ago.

theroadtohobbiton said...

I asked this question yesterday, so here is is again --

When a ewe dies, can/will another ewe 'adopt' the orphaned lamb for milking and feeding purposes?

Thanks Kristin, this is great!!

Anonymous said...

have you ever thought of posing in a dedicated Farmer calendar? Like January in the Carhartt suit with twin lambs, February in the Carhartt suit with a red hat, March in the Carhartt suit slightly unbuttoned for the warmth - no hat, and so on, perhaps a couple of months with sweaters Maybe one month with Jeremy, another with Eyeore, maybe one with the chickens. And the dogs. And the cats.... Semi-serious question. It would be part of the Kristin Nicholas family lifestyle series..... perhaps a reality show is a possiblity Farmer and Kristin + Julia + 200+ animals..... just free-thinking here...

Lyn said...

If you were not a farmer, then what would you like to do?
Love
Lyn
xxx

inadvertent farmer said...

Do you guys garden and raise your own produce too? If so do you use your manure for fertilizer? Thanks for sharing...I love this blog! Kim

Diane H K in Greenfield said...

This is such fun! Mark, you're a good and brave man...

First, let me say "told you so!" to Kristin re: people wanting the fleeces. Please, I'd love to help you with this if I can! 'Course, there's never enough hours in the day, ever...

Second, I LOVE, just LOVE the Farmer calendar idea another respondent had. Brilliant! OMG, wouldn't be just insanely cool if there was a "Farmers of Franklin County" calendar, with pictures just a little risque?!?

And here's my question: Now that I'm facing having to treat my entire flock on an intense and ongoing basis for parasite types and amounts I've never dealt with before, I'm concerned about preparing proper dosages for each of my sheep. I have such a disparity of sizes and ages, I'm clueless how much each sheep weighs. I know dosages are based on sheep weight. Is there a trick to doing this with any accuracy without buying a $2K livestock scale?

PS: Kodiak our guard llama is still alive. We finally are seeing improvement today, but we're not out of the woods by any means. Still, there is a miniscule amount of hope.

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog today and wanted to say that the photos are great!

Wren
http://z10.invisionfree.com/Journey_Back_in_Time

Donna said...

I too would like to know about selling the fleece for spinning. Of interest is Wensleydale sheep ( I ordered locks from England because could not find any in US). Meat and fleece may not be compatible goods.

Love your blog.

HOA Mgr Lady said...

Dear Handsome sexy Farmer :)
HOw is it having a wife who is so art oriented when you are so earth oriented? Do you LOVE the way she paints your rooms and your life? Seriously I love her colors!

kristi said...

Do you have to manage deep snowfall with machinery or do the sheep just act as natural plows?

Do you have a lawn that requires mowing?

How do you manage things like vacations or medical emergencies that would require leaving the farm?

knittingrid said...

Yes, he's right. This blog sure is great for it! I'm a sister in sustainability and knitting, Kristen, and love to tag along with you on your days.

Cheryl said...

What's the prospect for small farms such as yours? Will they be abandoned in the next twenty years because it's too hard to earn a living doing what you do or because a larger corporate enterprise takes them over?

Also, is all this talk about eating locally, sustainablility, and being "green" just the new fad that will disappear due to higher prices and competition for food? With the planet's population exploding and this country's economy in difficulites, will people be able to afford the luxury of knowing what they're eating and where it came from?

And, finally, if you could change one thing about the government's agricultural policies, what would that one thing be?

Thank you. Get some rest.

Francie said...

Hi Kristin,
I look forward to reading your blog everyday, and just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy it. It's farm life plus art, all rolled into one incredible journey. I appreciate that you give us the reality of it too, and not just lovely pastoral scenes and happy moments. I am curious why the ewes birth during the winter? Can you change that to summer so it would be easier on everyone, including The Farmer? Although I don't know you personally, I think both you and the farmer must be so content in your lives, doing exactly what you want to do, not what you feel you should do. I admire that very much.

ellen said...

I was wondering if you ever thought about making sheep's milk cheese. Too much trouble? No interest? wrong breed? I know little about sheep, but as I had always heard that they were not very friendly I wondered if sheep who were milked regularly become more easy to handle.

On another topic, I thought The Farmer looked quite handsome in his overalls and knit cap. He looks quite comfortable and in his element, which is of course the key to being truly attractive.

Marcy said...

First, I LOVE your blog. I so appreciate you letting us into your lives and sharing your talent with the world.
How do you both have the energy to do everything? Do you have help on the farm? I admire you both so much, and Julia has so much patience to model all the wonderful knitted garments.
Thank you.

GrandmaMoo said...

My husband, his sister and I just moved to a small farm (28 acres). How much does it take to sustain a flock of sheep? We're talking about meat and for fleece.
(I want the fleece, they want the meat!)
Thanks!

Alice said...

I would love to an apprenticeship on your farm during lambing season. My going rate is $0. Please let me know if this is possible.

Jennifer King said...

Hi Kristin,
I'd like to know.... does the Farmer has another job off the farm or does he work full time raising sheep? Thanks!

Leslie said...

I purchased some Leyden Farm Lamb(r) and it was wonderfully tasty stuff (even though the husband wouldn't touch it) but I noticed the congealed fat was yellow! I'd never seen yellow fat before - is that because there were no hormones and it was all grass fed?

I've also wondered what happens to the fleeces or lambskins from the butchered lambs? Does Adams dispose of them or do you get a share if they're sold? What happens to the carcasses and organs and other byproducts of lamb processing?

Why not two llamas or two donkeys? How come you have one of each? Different skill sets?

Thanks for your time in answering :)

Shell ~ said...

Good Morning Farmer,
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When/How do you separate the lambs from their SheepMamas ? Is it hard for them ? Do you think the Mamas still recognize their babies from afar ?
Just wondering about the emotional mind of a sheep .... :0
What are your insights on that topic from being around them for years ? I am an illustrator & have loved seeing how unique their faces are.
thanks,
Shell ~

Anonymous said...

See -- I'm not alone in thinking that the farmer is photogenic! But definitely a little lower on the Carhartt suit opening!

For those of you who don't know, the farmer is actually featured in an Interweave photo spread on KN back in the early 2000's, when Melanie Fallick was the editor.

Don't forget the reality series -- or it could be something like Project Farmer --

Willow said...

Because I grew up in Oregon and love to wallow in fiber, I know a little about sheep. My questions for the Farmer are twofold: 1)You use the term sustainable for your method of farming. Could you please explain more about what sustainable farming entails? 2) Do you have hired help? If so, who, how many, how much?

Thank you so much for your openness and willingness to educate us all!

Willow

Anonymous said...

Dear Kristin and "The Farmer",
A little late on Sunday, but hope I can get a couple of questions in!
What breed(s) of sheep do you raise and why? If starting with a small flock, how many acres would be needed? Do you have any "milk" sheep - why or why not? (OK, not quite a couple of questions, a few...)

Thanks so much!
Mary Anne

mascanlon said...

How did you decide to add the sunflower fields and do you grow the hay/feed for the lambs too?

JFibers said...

Love the blog... read every day. I've asked this question before but you were on dial-up at that time... Anyway, is having a donkey watch over the flock better than a llama? I noticed only recently that you have a llama too but am wondering about the benefits of a donkey...

nanaofnc said...

I adore that second photo of the two sheep...their faces are beautiful. xo,

knitterbeader said...

So interesting reading The Farmer's responses to the questions here. The tying on of the dead lamb's pelt to a live one and getting the ewe to accept it blew my mind! Thank you, Farmer, for your time in answering questions.

Karin said...

It's lambing season again already??!

Bill, Ulla, and Paul said...

Hey Farmer! We've been dying to send you a few questions: which model MASSEY-FERGUSON are you using? do you keep a count of all the sheep you've ever had on the farm? how many? which hat/sweater combo from Kristin is your favorite to wear? and what's in your flask: Scotch or Jameson?