Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Farmer Answers - Part Four

Today's Lesson: Worming a Sheep

Sheep have to be wormed several times a year. I use a "worming gun" which has a metal tip on it. The worming liquid called Ivermectin is in the container which is on my back. I dial up the dosage depending on the weight of the animal and the gun automatically doses the liquid into the sheep's mouth when I squeeze the trigger. This is a similar treatment to when you treat your pets for worms. In the summer if sheep are not treated frequently, the worms can easily overwhelm them and they will die.

From Kristin: It was really busy here Wednesday. A dozen lambs born were born (lamb count now 114) and we had a friend's birthday party.

Not a lot of time to answer questions - sorry. Hopefully The Farmer will be able to answer some more tomorrow night. We've got a lot of stuff going on besides farming Thursday. Yikes!!!!

Here are two new twin lambs born Wednesday morning:

I love this photo of this little white lamb suckling its black mama.

The Farmer Answers - Part Four

Question: 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...
Another Similar Question: Why not two llamas or two donkeys? How come you have one of each? Different skill sets?
The Farmer Says: Often our flock of sheep is broken up into two or three grazing flocks. We try to have one guard animal with each flock. Both the llama and the donkey are somewhat effective in predator control although they are not fool-proof. We are looking into getting a guard dog possibly.
We don’t know too much about llamas or donkeys – we’re learning. What we have been told is if you have two llamas, they will be ineffective as guard animals because they are more interested in each other. Llamas are extremely social animals. As for the donkey, we don’t know if having two would be helpful or a hindrance. We’re happy with just one.

Question: 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?
The Farmer Says: I’m not sure. I will have to ask Adams what they do with the lambskins and the other by-products. We get the hearts, kidneys and livers back and sell them. I know that if we wanted them back, we could get the sheepskins but would have to pay extra to salt them. We would then have to ship the salted skins to a tannery. Once again, it is a matter of economics and money. We have had sheepskins processed in the past for our own use but it is very costly. With cheap New Zealand imports, it would be hard to compete. Only so much money to be tied up……

Thank you all for your interest in our sheep farm and your fabulous questions!


loonyhiker said...

Please thank the Farmer for taking all this time to answer these questions. And thank you for posting them. I am so fascinated by all this! I never knew that so much was involved in the day to day operations.

Mary G said...

Kristin ... these are GREAT posts about the source-side of sheep! A few years back I did a sheep-to-shawl unit with my kids for homeschooling. I'll probably do another next year and I'll include these great photos and information! Please give your farmer a BIG THANKS from this city-girl!

Jennifer and Steve said...

Good morning! I love this series you and the Farmer are doing. Thank you for sharing! I also received my book in the mail and am in love with your designs. Your use of color is really my favorite of any designers! :) Hope your day is good. jak

Cory said...

Thank you so very much for a glimpse into your lives and all the hard work you do on the farm !! The snapshots of the lambs are priceless. May you be blessed with great things to come.

p.s. I love the book !!

Dani said...

Thank you for doing the ask the Farmer. It is so fun to read! I have a question about the deworming... I know that for horses the deworming is prevention only: if you de-worm too late and the horse already has worms, the horse will die because the de-wormer will kill the worms while they are in the horse's heart, blocking blood flow. Is the same thing true for the de-wormer you use on the sheep?

P.S. You take really great pictures.

mascanlon said...

Oh my, I am city born and breed but have always enjoyed your blog and the pictures of a very different life. Thank the farmer again for me for doing this I am learning so much and have such admiration for all three of you. The true American spirit shows through as each of you meet your challenges together. (And in beautifully handcrafted knits!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. As a New Zealander, in New Zealand, I'm interested in the comment about cheap NZ imports of sheepskins. It feels rather strange to think of something we export as cheap, given that labour costs in this country are comparatively high, with a lot of production (e.g. for clothes, whiteware, lower quality leather furniture) having gone off shore for cheaper costs.. Nevertheless, our dollar isn't as strong as yours, so I can appreciate that something we export could end up having a price advantage for us in the US market.

Best wishes to your family - i am an urbanite now but at one stage in my life lived in the country so have, I hope, a solid appreciation of what it takes.

Kristin Nicholas said...

Let me respond to the comment from NZ. I probably should have used the word "inexpensive" when describing the NZ sheepskins. They are incredibly beautiful also - which I did not fairly say.

In the US you can purchase a sheepskin for $75. Here's a website:
It doesn't say where it is from but I am guessing it is from NZ by the length of the fleece.

In the US there are very few places to get a sheephide tanned.
The closest one I know of is in PA and called Bucks Co. Fur Products (I cannot find a website for it). When I have shipped my salted, scraped hids to them by UPS they weigh alot and are expensive to ship. Way back when (at least 15 years ago) it cost me $60 to tan one of our hides (they have long wool and cost extra). I also had to pay the freight back here. I was into the project for more than $80. I would then have to mark it up and try to make money on it.

Once again, with the economies of scale, it makes selling hides pretty cost prohibitive with the investment and then hope that someone would buy them. We have to chose where to put our money and it is hard to compete with imports. As a little aside, I bought a beautiful washable sheepskin two years ago for a bathroom rug at TJMaxx for $20.

turtlewoman said...

I have no questions as all (so far anyway) have been answered but I do want to thank both of you for this marvelous "column". I hope it will be ongoing - if not on a regular basis then perhaps The Farmer will be willing to chime in once in awhile. Some of his comments are worth their weight. One that I am going to print and hang by my desk (with credit to "The Farmer"), "Sometimes you just have to go along for the ride." Every marriage and every marriage counselor should adopt this bit of advice.

I love Kristin's work - especially the colors. I do believe we could use Kristin's colors and Kaffe Fassett's colors interchangeably. If I were to choose I would take Kristin's - much more down-to-earth. Kristin, you also take wonderful pics.

Lindy in AZ