Shearing is not as easy as YouTube makes it look

Shearing is not as easy as YouTube makes it look

This was goat sheering weekend and by the almost end, we were all bleeding. One goat is wrapped in vet wrap, another looks pretty good, the 3rd is ½ done, and I have 5 stitches.

So, it turns out that those crazy looking electric shears really are crazy. I’m used to the horse ones that are basically a supped-up version of people clippers. Wool shears look like a syfy cutting machine. They look like this.

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They worked fine, but it made a bit of a mess of the mohair, it all became a jumbled mess. We were not planning on keeping this shearing. We hadn’t found a good way to keep them clean yet, so they were a bit matted, had hay and other feed tangled in their hair, and had gotten generally dirty. Had we wanted to keep it, I think I would have been extra frustrated trying to keep it manageable.

When we went to do the underbelly of the first, it became extra difficult. Their skin is a pale pink, and their hair is thick white. Seeing what is hair and what is flesh is actually quite hard. She started moving around so I tried to help by holding her leg, because of this Hubby accidentally clipped her flesh under arm. It was pretty bad. We called the vet and got an after hours number, that vet didn’t do large animals and basically said “good luck” and left it at that.

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Now, my vet first aid skills lack a bit for smaller animals like this, so I did some brainstorming. I ran into the house and grabbed gauze, however I only had 2×2 squares and only 3. I was thinking that given the wound style, I didn’t want to use anything that would stick and cause more issues. Sooooo, you know what works great for blood and not sticking? Always, without wings. Ahahaha. I grabbed that too. So, yes, to start I put a pad on my goat. However, as I was getting her wrapped up, I wasn’t sure how to secure the pad and not have it stick to me, so I left the backing on. That made it slippery and it fell out. I put the gauze in and wrapped her up. That seemed to work. However, a few minutes later, the vet wrap had all shifted and the gauze was on the ground. We wrapped her up with more vet wrap to keep it clean, and let her go. Oddly, she doesn’t seem to notice that she has a wound. No limping, she’s not messing with it, just looks normal, other than being purple and pink.

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The next day, I volunteered to shear manually. This actually worked great, except I did catch my husband’s finger a little – just a scratch though. Lady (the goat) looked pretty good, if I do say so. It left a little hair behind to help with sun protection, but it was still very short. I could see this being a great way to manage mohair fiber collection. Their hair is a lot like dreadlocks, so you can cut a few locks at a time and separate them out.

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Goat #3, is our more skittish lady. At this point she’s already seen what has happened to her friends and knows why we were there. She wasn’t falling for the grain trick. I actually felt bad trying to catch her, she ran to flee and turned jumping right into the field fence, I thought she was going to catch a leg and we’d have another issue, but she just bounced off and ran.

Shortly after getting her up on the stanchion, some friends stopped by and hubby took the kids and went down to the shop to visit so I could shear without worrying about anyone or having the extra distraction. I was doing pretty good too! I had her about half sheared, but was starting to have issues because I hadn’t gotten enough off from around her neck and face. I got a fair amount around her neck cleaned off, and started working around her face. Gina (goat 3) gets a little testy and headbutted me as I was making a cut. Well, with how thick the hair is and trying to use my fingers for guides so I wouldn’t accidentally cut her, my fingers were a bit close and that headbutt was all that was needed to trim a finger too. Now here I am bleeding all over, a goat half sheared, and no one around to give me a hand. I took a quick peak to double check if it was as bad as I thought I saw. Sure enough, I had essentially stuck my finger in, nail first, to the scissor style shears and cut the side far enough in that I cut part of my finger nail. Damn.

Thinking this is actually way better than say the 90s, we all have cell phones, I called my husband so he could come take care of the goat. It went to voicemail. Humf. I stepped out of the barn, looked toward the shop, and gave my best “come here dog” whistle. He waved at me so I waved back thinking dang, I’m going to have to walk over there, but I can’t leave the goat. Luckily, my husband actually did see that I wanted him to come back, and walked back to me (its aound 100 yrds or so). I’ve already bled all over the floor, so I grab the vet kit, grab some blue shop towels to help stop the bleeding and wrapped it a bit with vet wrap. I’m not a great communicator in situations like this, so hubby is totally unaware, and asks “what’s up?” As I’m holding this wadded mess to my hand, I apparently had a short conversation in my head and only actually verbalized, “I need you to take care of the goat for me”.

Hubby: “huh? What do you want me to do with her?”

Me: “I dunno, just clean her up enough we can put her back, and then put her back”

Hubby: “soooo, what, like want me to use the clippers or what here?”

Me: “I don’t know! Sure, yes, do that”

Me: After thinking another minute “actually, I can just take this in myself if you want to stay with the kids, its not like I can’t drive”.

Hubby: Confused “what?”

Me: “well, I mean, I’m pretty sure I need to get this stitched up”.

Hubby: “you cut yourself?”

Me: Dumb look on my face “ya, what? That’s why I’m holding this. What?”

Visitors: general questions of how bad, need me to stay for the kids, etc.

Hubby: “ok, well let me clean this up, I’ll put her back, and then I’ll look at it and we can see if you need to go in”.

Once I took the cover off, he agreed we needed to go in, so we made a family trip of it. We seem to be there at least once a month lately. We should get a frequent flyer card.

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Needless to say, 5 stitches later, I have a big fluffy cover on my finger and my toddler wants to constantly play with it. At one point, he grabbed fairly hard and twisted. I let out a slight scream which scared him. His reaction cracks me up, he jumps a little, pulls his little fist up to his mouth and points at me saying “shhhh, you don’t do that!”. My reaction: “I don’t, you don’t! that hurt mister.”

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Side note, I made 3 sheets to keep the goats clean. I went to put one on the first and what fit perfect with her wool, now drags on the ground and looks like a little kid playing dress up in mom’s clothes. HAHAHA. Now what?

Who knew this would be such a disaster. But hey, next time should be good.

The good Goat:

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The Bad Goat:

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The Ugly Goat:

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Spring Projects – Wagons and a Stanchion

Spring Projects – Wagons and a Stanchion

Spring is always full of projects, and I basically keep a running project list. This past weekend was the weekend for small refresh projects. I went around the farm and analyzed what was in good shape, could be refreshed, and what needed to be flagged for a dump run. I love the idea of donating, but apart from baby gear, most things around here surpass donate quality or else we wouldn’t get rid of it.

Saturday morning, I ran to the city for basic supplies, I didn’t plan far enough in advance and everything here was closed. I try to buy local when reasonable, but lately I suck at planning. I had a turkey in my fridge all week because I couldn’t seem to plan enough to get the dang thing to thaw! It made a great Mother’s Day dinner though.

My favorite thing about buying supplies at a farm supply store is that the labels speak my language. For example, I was looking for paint, wasn’t real sure what I wanted, but it would be used for a picnic table and whatever else needed paint. The perfect gallon stood out to me “Siding, barn, fence, and general outdoor paint”. Yup, that covers the jobs I have – SOLD. Next came spray paint, I wanted a good red for the wagon and maybe toys. What did I find? Farm and implement paint in Massey Ferguson Red. Yes, tractor red was perfect & it sounded like it should hold up to kids.

We did some divide and concur for farm projects, and I must admit, they all benefit me, so what could be better for a Mom’s weekend? I took care of painting the picnic tables, the wagon, and Tonka trucks, and Hubby built a stanchion for shearing goats and trimming the hooves for goats and sheep.

The Tonka trucks were probably my most work, I had to tape off the plastic the best I could after washing them, and to be honest, these things ae super ugly, so I couldn’t get real into protecting the super faded black. I chose orange in hopes it would do a better job covering the parts starting to rust. They turned out pretty good, though they kind of look a bit like a Cheeto truck fleet. Overall, they look a heck of a lot better than they did before.

This guy above didn’t get a lot of attention for detail.

The wagon is probably my favorite fix up just because it’s such an emblem of American youth, and it turned out pretty good.

Hubby built the stanchion out of scrap lumber we had saved from other projects and things that have been taken apart or repaired. He built it out of his head, so I don’t have any plans share. It’s a basic frame with deck, and then there are two 2×4’s pinned in place using 6in 5/8th bolts with lock nuts and washers. That allows the arms to open and close to hold the goat in place, he also placed a couple wood blocks to prevent the arms from moving too much. He set it up so we could chain at two different points so that it didn’t matter if we used it for lambs, sheep, goats, or kids (hahahaha – goat kids not mine – no worries).

I’m most excited for the stanchion, the shears should arrive Thursday so the ladies will be getting a trim next weekend. Stay tuned for that, it should be entertaining. I also have fabric for making goat sheets, so we will see how that project turns out. I used to sew blankets for Breyers all the time as a kid, had a little mini business for it, so it shouldn’t be too hard right? HAHA

What’s a day in this season of life look like?

What’s a day in this season of life look like?

Spring is a busy time and sometimes I wonder if it’s not too much. For our family spring means:

Mom full time Job; Dad full time Job; Son plays Baseball – games twice a week; Mom Coaches Track – Has full day meets most Saturdays; Garden planting; New farm additions; Weed maintenance; Dog sheds (yes, I added that – it’s a full-time job cleaning up his hair); Laundry doubles; Dad works extra hours training new hires and has low staffing; Goats need Sheared; Lambing season; Farm maintenance goes into full swing – fence repair, barn clean-out etc.

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As a mom of a toddler I have the added challenges of accidental delayed bed times and refusal to nap. He can be so sweet and cute one minute and an angry Godzilla the next.

What brother, you and your friend don’t want to play soldiers with me? Let me destroy your bases and throw tiny toy soldiers to the four corners of the basement. That will show you!

I must admit, winter and spring tend to be the months I appreciate my husband the most. I am a feminist to a point, I love representing woman in the corporate Ag world, but how I love to get to be wife at home. I take care of kids and the house and Hubby takes care of the yuk jobs I don’t like to deal with. Winter its tending animals in sub-freezing temperatures, and this time of year its changing hand lines at dawn, and cleaning the barn.

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I get asked sometimes if it’s worth it. The day and mood I’m in will get you different answers. Though spring is one of our busiest seasons it’s also my season of hope. I look forward to warmer weather, blooming flowers, growing fruit & veggies, and laughing children. Today it’s all worth it.

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Over time I’ve learned tricks to help on time management: Farm or no farm – Comment and let me know what your go to trick is to manage or save time.

  1. Flex your work schedule: When possible, flex your work hours to give you a few extra minutes home kid free to get some of the tasks done that tend to be slow going with littles around. I swing home for lunch and throw a load of laundry in or do a quick cleanup of what was left from getting ready that morning. I used to go in 30min early each day and have 2 hours off early once a week, this was my main cleaning time.
  2. Meal plan: This is a weak point for me, but I see the benefit every time I do it. This time of year, I rely on crock pot meals, BBQ, and roaster pans. Our toddler hates being stuck in the house, and I don’t blame him, but we get cougars time to time and the road is not far away, plus he’s a boy toddler. I can’t take my eyes off him for more than a second. Anything that I can prep the night before or on my lunch break is a win, I can get home, and have it going without needing to be in the house more than a minute or two. That’s where the BBQ comes in too, I can grill and watch him.
  3. Tag team: I couldn’t live this life without my husband. We often tag in or out to get jobs done. One is on parent duty the other on farm duty. Dad moves a couple loads of dirt with the tractor, Mom makes sure he doesn’t back over toddler. Trade! Mom fills planter pots, Dad makes sure toddler isn’t eaten by a cougar or climb to the top of the hay stack.
  4. Prioritize: Have a list of tasks, but make sure to prioritize them. Mental list or paper, know what must be done today vs what can hold if it has too. If the fence needs repaired and animals are getting out, that’s probably a must. Picnic table needs painted – can probably hold a day or two.
  5. Let it go: This is my favorite. Accept that whether it is seasons of year or seasons of life, not all seasons can be perfect. If you wanted to get all the laundry done and now it’s a giant pile on the couch at 10pm, let it go, it will be there tomorrow and it never killed anyone to have to dig their pants out of the clean clothes pile. Didn’t get to all the chores outside? They will be there tomorrow and one day will generally not make a huge difference.

What does an average spring day look like for me?

5:30am – Get going for the day: Get ready for work, 10 minutes of toddler cuddle time, make school lunch, make family basic breakfast (sometimes pancakes, sometimes eggs & muffins, sometimes cereal or oatmeal), help get toddler ready.

6:45am – rush to work – work day starts at 7am

Noon – 12:30 – Lunch at home, toss in a load of laundry or meal prep

3:30pm – Coach HS Track & Field

5:15pm – pick up toddler from daycare

5:30pm – take son to baseball game – Husband usually finishes up with a bit of time to catch part of the game

7:30pm – get home from game – eat whatever was in the roaster or crock pot

8:00pm – kids down to bed

8:30pm – clean up inside of house, or if toddler actually falls asleep, sneak outside for a few chores

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As a kid, my Grandpa made a rule. I wasn’t allowed to date farmers or cowboys, that wasn’t a life he wanted to start me on as a kid. Oddly enough my sister didn’t have that rule, he said “I don’t have to worry about her, she’s going to marry a banker and move to the city”. I laugh now, she moved to the city, and though I didn’t marry a farmer, you just can’t get too far from your roots. We both have the crazy hours you would expect for farmers. She does more kid sports, so she has the travel hours expected for rodeo. Who knew.

Gearing up for my 2018 garden

Gearing up for my 2018 garden

It may sound early, but I’m a planner, a list maker, so in January I started my garden planning. I made a garden journal, I created a diagram, assigned veggies, and planted the garlic.

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I planned out a foot path crossing the main garden area in a giant X.  I chose to put tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers along the interior boarder which will allow to  easily rotate crops.

I like the idea of winter sowing in place of indoor starts or purchasing starts. I’ve had terrible luck with indoor starts, I don’t have the space and they always end up being stringy and weak. Winter sowing using milk jug green houses allows the plants to grow more similarly to how they would in nature. Here is a great tutorial on the milk jug green house. This sounded like a GREAT plan for me!

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However, I have a short attention span for directions and seem to think I can substitute as needed. On top of that, I have bad luck. Not fall in a well bad luck, just general reality bad luck. I choose to  believe when trying new things I should be grandfathered into beginners luck. Isn’t that the rule?

This year has had different challenges, the weather had been abnormally warm for an extended time (in the 50s for over a week) in January. Normally we would have a warm day or two, but not enough to make the seeds sprout. For a while I thought I may have to start over.  Hubby suggested adding an additional layer of plastic for added insulation and see how they do. They hung in there! I may try my hand at hoop house next year.

I’ve been asked many times what method i’m following for my garden. I have found that once you start a garden you find out that several others have gardens and its like a neon sign lights up above your head flashing “GARDENERS UNITE!” So, what is my method? Plant and pray. That is my method. Farmers in the area plant peas, I plant peas, they plant beans, I plant beans. The little seed pack said to plant cucumbers just before last frost, I shrugged and planted them thinking, I haven’t had ice on my windshield, I may be too late. For some starts, I covered them at night for a bit with cut off milk jugs to keep them from freezing. See below, it looks like a milk jug farm, and if my oldest was a bit younger I would have probably told him that’s what I was growing. hahaha – mean mom.

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The cold sowing directions said it was okay to plant thick and thin out later, I’ve done that now, and its a game of wait and see. The cabbage seems to be very hardy, but here’s the issue, i’m not 100% positive what anything is.  Remember how I said I seem to think I can substitute when I want? Well, don’t do that on labeling. Heck, maybe put an extra identifier in there too.  Between my toddler shaking a few up, the sun, and rain, nothing was labeled by the first part of February. I literally stood there googling different plant starts on my cell while trying to transplant. I had the seed packs so I at least knew what the options were, but that was it. I ended up with about 5 that I couldn’t identify but narrowed to peppers or tomatoes. I’m letting those grow out more since they were barely sprouts anyway.  FYI, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower all seem really close, and if I end up with any of those in my raised bed and lettuce in the ground, I’ll update you that lettuce looks like those too.

I chose to use seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I don’t really have much of an opinion on heirloom vs hybrids, vs anything else. I chose my seeds from there because of price and color. I’m hoping the fun colors will make it more fun for the kids, and in that, maybe less of a veggie fight at dinner hahaha.

I still have a few things to plant, squash mainly, but everything else is in the ground I think. We did buy a few plants that were started by people that actually know what they are doing, so i’m pretty confident we will at least have some peppers and tomatoes turn out, and the potatoes have started to grow, so i’m optimistic on those too.

You may notice in my pictures my planter boxes all have mismatched plant types – i.e. “trees”, “succulents” . Hubby made these for me out of re-purposed boards from nursery sales signs he picked up at an auction, they are great! He also had these weird stake signs and a bunch of planter bags “dirt pots” from the same auction. Normally I cringe a little when he goes to auctions, but this time he came home with a bunch of stuff that benefits me, so I suppose he bought himself some bonus points.

Bummer Lamb

Bummer Lamb

The saga of the bottle lamb continues.

I have heard bottle fed lambs be called “bummer lambs”, and never thought much of it. Until this past year I’d never raised lambs before. With this lamb, I’ve learned some things, mainly why they are called bummer lambs.

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Here’s the thing. I like hooved animals…. outside. But this guy pulls at my heart strings. Maybe it’s that I’m a mom now, or maybe it’s that my toddler calls him “my baby” and has stopped asking me about our dog that passed on last week. Either way, I have a hard time kicking him out. Look how he adopted our lab.

This weekend we put him out with the other lambs, it was so depressing. His mom didn’t seem to recognize him and all the sheep acted like he was, well… the black sheep. It was sadly horrible and funny to watch. Here is this 2 week old lamb trying to make friends with chickens – they were not impressed. When that failed he tried to make friends with the goats (they couldn’t run off – they were penned up in the bard). The goats just rammed the panel between them, sending him back to chickens for comfort. Chickens are unsurprisingly not into lambs and therefore little comfort to the bummer lamb.

With this in mind, my main goal this past weekend was to make my house not smell like urine. I am the queen of my castle overrun with boys. My husband is the only male in the house I don’t think is making our house smell like pee. Who knows, I could be wrong hahaha.

My oldest, is pretty good, but I still regularly yell “LIFT UP THE SEAT!” My youngest is smack in the middle of potty training so he’s that kid right now. You know, the one always in sweat pants that regularly smells like pee. I have an old lab that it’s a crap shoot if he will make it outside – thankfully he is respectful enough that if he has an accident it’s on the concrete at the back door – but STILL! On top of these, we have “my baby” off and on still in the house. The dang place had a heck of a go last week, and needed a full disinfecting.

Turns out the training pads for large dog breeds work pretty well, and they have scent lock. However, I’m pretty sure my pac ‘n play is now a barn tool. Don’t judge – baby goes back to the barn to make friends during the day. He’s actually doing better. His sister is starting to be more gutsy and stray from mom enough to play. Mom is not impressed with the small lamb that smells like dog and can’t seem to understand why her daughter keeps trying to play with him. Even with starting to integrate back into the herd, his loyalty is still at the house. As soon as he hears us or the dog he runs to greet us in hopes of coming along.

He’s gotten pretty good with the bottle, and we’re just about through the late night & early morning feedings, so he’s destined for barn nights.   He has been entertaining though. If he could be house broke he’d be even cuter.

 

Life Cycles

Life Cycles

On a farm you see life run full circle at a faster pace it seems than in a suburb. For the most part I love this, other days, it’s hard. Recently you have seen we have added to our farm in multiples, 3 new goats, and 2 new lambs (you can read it here if you missed the cute pictures).

This past weekend was both heart ache and joy. We lost a member that has been with us for over 7 years. Jemma was our great dane – a great play mate, pillow, friend, companion and baby. Though I would definitely consider her a gentle giant, I don’t think the mail man, UPS driver, FedEx driver, or any other delivery person would agree hahaha. She would stand up on her back legs and look down through the window at anyone she didn’t know, use her biggest bark and make sure they  knew they were being watched. I watched her turn a large bone into shards within seconds, and yet, she was as gentle as could be with the family.

The average life span of a great dane is about 6-8 years so we were aware and enjoying this past year. Since moving to our Dayton farm she had turned into a puppy again, climbing rock walls and chasing rabbits. She definitely lived each day to its doggy fullest.

The hard part is the kids. My oldest does not remember a time without her and she has been his dedicated movie night pillow since he was 2. He took it the hardest understandably. Our toddler is still trying to understand which leads to lovely awkward toddler conversations.

Toddler: “My dog died”

Mom: “yes”

Toddler: “Isaac died”

Mom: Yelling to down stairs – “Isaac”

Isaac: yelling – “yes”

Mom: “no, Isaac is not dead”

Toddler: “but dog died”

Mom: “okay new topic”

The house is adjusting, but the lab (another old man) is getting spoiled out of family sadness and he’s mopey so it makes everyone feel better to give him a scrap here and there. Jemma was his gateway dog before and without her he can’t get scraps off the counters or tables anymore.

Of this past weekend, the hardest part for me was that it was not a smooth process. In my head, knowing this day would come, I never thought about how to take care of the situation. Jemma was around 100 pounds and if standing like a person, over 6 feet tall. Her bed was upstairs. Hubby was out of town taking care of business, but had a friend come help me get her outside. Our home isn’t that large, and the kids were curious what was going on, as much as I tried to send them down stairs, it didn’t work for the youngest, and both ended up seeing the fiasco of me and another trying to carry her outside. My humor turns dark in bad situations and I felt guilty thinking how I could never get away with murder – and how the F do people move bodies!   To top it off, we were not the only family to think a good resting place would be under this large tree on the property. I don’t think the kids noticed, hubby was pretty discrete, but quickly had to expand the site the other direction.  – Needless to say, we needed a family outing distraction and went for root beer, beer, and wine.

However, where there is sadness there comes joy, and this weekend was no different. The following night 2 new lambs were born, a boy and a girl.

These two are pretty adorable, so that is an improvement to the weekend.  Mom is healthy and happy. Though they could not look anymore different, white mom, red boy, multi color girl. Looking for more names, so far we have suggestions of Honey for a red girl, and Whiskey for a red boy. Any votes or suggestions?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

New Farm Additions

New Farm Additions

Today we had two new additions to our farm, and I am on cloud 9! They are so adorable.

It’s twins – A new baby boy and baby girl. Mom is fairly healthy, though battling some mastitis.  She dealt with this last year as well, leading to slightly malnourished labs last year.  We will watch her closely to make sure the labs continue to feed, and have milk and bottles on hand in case needed. We call  Momma “Red”, and she is the guard sheep of our flock.

This past summer and fall we had problems with cougars bedding down and finding a home in our “habitat plot” (a stretch of trees boarding our hay field / pasture). Red was the fearless leader of the flock, leading the others away from trouble as needed and gathering the flock when danger was present. It was impressive to watch when she would go into protect mode – all business, head down, in command of the flock, directing the others. The others wouldn’t take a step unless she gave the approval.

This past weekend we also added three other new ladies: Rosie, Freckles, and Gina. These ladies are Angora Goats – producers of mohair. If you read my goal setting post, you may have seen I am looking at trying my hand at fiber processing. Hubby wanted goats to eat the yard trimmings his landscape business produces, so this was a perfect compromise.

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So now we have sheep that look like goats, and goats that look like sheep! The goats are super friendly though, and from what I can tell will make great entry level show animals for the kids. For this type of goat, you don’t bathe or trim their hair, so for showing the boys would pull any hay out of their hair and be ready to go.

Jumping back to the lamb topic – We have between two and four more sheep left to lamb, we expect one to lamb sometime this next week. Any name suggestions for us? All in all, we expect to have 8 lambs this season.