Thursday, January 30, 2014

Shepherdess Notes: Electric Fencing



I was driving down the road and got quite a surprise when I looked over and seen part of our fence buried under snow drifts. This is is the first time that has ever happened.  This winter has been full of "first times". 

Fencing is important when you raise sheep. (and other livestock) The best piece of advice that we got when we moved out to the farm and were looking at purchasing our first livestock, was to make the investment in a good fence.  I have never regretted following that advice. 

We chose to put up a 6 strand, hi-tensile, electric fence. After some research, we found it was cheaper to buy the supplies from a wholesale fence dealer and have them install it than it was for us to buy the supplies at a local farm store and install it ourselves.  17 acres fenced off in one day and we didn't have to lift a finger! Good deal!

When electric fencing works it is great, when it doesn't-it is a pain! Being a mental barrier more than a physical one, it has to work well. The most important aspect of installing an electric fence, especially when you are trying to hold back woolly sheep, is invest in a very strong fence charger and put in adequate ground rods (minimum of 3).

As with anything there are pros and cons of having an electric fence. 

Over the years, our biggest problem is when we have a power outage.
When we lose power, we have no fence! 
Thankfully, the sheep have never tested the fence during an outage, but I always worry about predators the whole time it is off.
We are working on a back up plan to keep the fence charged during power outages.

Another problem is grass, weeds, and brush growing up around the fence and that draws power, making the fence less effective. Once a year, we have to spray herbicide along the fence rows, in the Spring, to keep the vegetation down.

On occasion, we will have an animal (lets be honest, a goat ) that will decide the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and will tolerate the shock to get there. That does not happen very often, but when it does it causes problems! I have had to sell a few of my best goats because they would just not respect the fence and wreaked havoc on our fruit trees and plants, and believe me, it doesn't take long for them to cause quite a big of damage.

I think electric fencing is a great choice  to cover a large area of pasture. Woven wire fencing is nice but the cost is about 4 times the cost of the hi-tensile. It is also not as forgiving when trees and large branches fall on it. With the woven wire you would most likely have to put hot wire on the inside to keep goats from climbing on it,  animals from rubbing against it and dogs digging underneath it.

Another type of fencing we have used is Electric Netting, which is a portable electric fence. It works great for dividing up the pastures. It typically comes in 150 foot sections and has many different uses around the farm. This was the first type of fencing we used on the farm. Before our permanent fence was put in, we used the portable fence to let our sheep graze during the day (we had 4).  We  put them up in the barn at night.

I should mention that we have six strands (4 ft. tall) because that is what is recommended for sheep and goats.

Whatever type of fence you choose, I think it is one of the most important investments of the farm. It keeps everyone where they belong, which makes for happy sheep and a happy shepherd!

Best Gates?  Well, we are working on that...

Only a Goat.....


HomeAcre Hop #55 and Giveaway!

giveaway week 2 

Welcome to Week 2

Of Our Anniversary Giveaway Extravaganza!

The HomeAcre Hop Turned One and We Want to Celebrate!

This week we continue a full month of giveaways and we want you to join the party! Help us celebrate by sharing your homesteading, homeschooling, and homemaking posts on The HomeAcre Hop. Don't have a blog, don't worry! You are welcome to enter our giveaway in the handy entry form below for your chance to win two great prizes this week!

Our Sponsors ~ Our Prizes!

Black Fox Homestead ~ $25 Etsy Gift Card

Homegrown on the Hill ~ The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener

The Details

Jenny from Black Fox Homestead is sponsoring the giveaway this week with a $25 Etsy Gift Card, redeemable at any Etsy shop you like! Please stop by and Favorite the Black Fox Homestead Etsy Shop, for one of your entry options!

Mary from Homegrown on the Hill is sponsoring the giveaway this week with a copy of The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener! Stop by and subscribe to her blog for one of your entry options!

 





HomeAcre  Host:
Kathi@Oak Hill Homestead
Nancy@Prudent Living on the Home Front
Ann@ Summer Acres
Jenny@Black Fox Homestead
Lisa Lynn@Self Sufficient Home Acre
and Me @Clearwater Farm Journal
Mary@Homegrown on the Hill


Each host will feature her own picks from the posts linked the previous week. that means your chances of being featured are even better! Visit each of the blogs to see if you were featured this week! (Don't forget to link back to one of our blogs if you'd like to be featured!)

Featured Post:

Making Bacon and How to Cure Your Own From Seven Springs Homestead.

CIMG1387 

Congratulations! We love to read encouraging posts about homesteading. Please stop by to congratulate the featured blogger this week. If you were featured, grab the button to display proudly on your blog.


Clearwater Farm Journal
 

You are invited to share your original posts on: Homesteading, livestock care, gardening, environmentally friendly farming, self sufficiency, preparedness, off grid living, healthy recipes, home remedies and herbal concoctions, green living, homeschooling, food preservation, environmentally friendly crafts and home decor, photo posts of natural living and homesteading subjects! Now that’s a lot of information to share! If it fits any of these topics, we want to hear about it :) There are just a few little rules to follow:

  • Family friendly posts only. ‘Nuff said :)
  • Please, no posts dedicated to advertising products.
  • Link as many appropriate posts as you’d like each week. Older posts are great too.
  • Please visit as many of the other posts as you can and let them know you found them here!
  • If you wish to be featured, you must link back to the hop (on either host’s blog) with the button or a text link, and please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and/or Pinterest!
  • Please follow us by email! You’ll receive notice when the hop is open for business. :)
  • Only share content that you have created.
  • Please remember that the whole idea of a blog hop is to visit the other bloggers and make connections and friendships…so share the linky love!
  • By linking to this hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post if you are featured. We will also include one photo from your post in the interest of sending visitors your way :)
                    To keep things fresh on the Hop PLEASE do not share a post that you have previously linked up.
Any post that does not fit in the guidelines will be removed. Thank you for participating!!

Clearwater Farm Journal




Monday, January 27, 2014

Knitting Some Sunshine




Snowed in another day! 

Is it possible to knit some sunshine? I am giving it my best shot. 

Looking for my next knitting project but even if I find it, it will have to wait. No trips to town today,  to pick up the needed yarn. 

But, I have been knitting dishcloths. I have a cotton yarn stash and I have been picking out the brightest colors I can find. Hoping those bright colors will bring some warmth and some thoughts of Spring. 

This is one of the first Knitting projects I learned. They are pretty simple. 
If you want the pattern or video tutorial, click on the link below.


How is the weather in your area?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Snow Day



Church was cancelled.

Snowed In.

Just another day in a Michigan Winter.





Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Knit a Hat, Check!



I finally decided it was time to stop talking about it and just do it!

I picked the easiest hat Pattern I could find, went to the store and picked up supplies-size 13 knitting Needles and some Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick Yarn. A few hours later, my very first hat!

I talked one of my girls into modeling it for me.

So now I can say that I have moved on from scarves and dishcloths!  Who knows maybe there are knitted socks in my future, yet.

The pattern I used was found at Lion Brand Yarn's website

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tunis Babies, Any Day!





We are getting ready for our first red heads on the farm!

We haven't had winter babies in a long time. Of course the year we get talked into early lambs, it is the coldest winter  we can ever remember, with consistent below zero temps!

There are three ewes tucked away in the barn getting the VIP treatment.  Lambing supplies on hand. Anxiously, awaiting the arrival of our first lambs of 2014.  
 
Thankfully, the rest of the ewes are not due until April!

 

Anyone else waiting for Farm Babies??






Thursday, January 23, 2014

HomeAcre Hop #54

anniversary button 1

We're Kicking Off a Month of Giveaways!

Help us Celebrate one full year of The HomeAcre Hop

Our hop turned 1 this month and we're having a party to celebrate and give a little something back to our readers! So stop by and share your posts and enter for a chance to win one of our wonderful prizes! This week we have 3 great prizes to go to 1 lucky reader!

Our Sponsors ~ Our Prizes

Ann from Summers Acres - The Backyard Orchardist: Raising Fruit Trees in Your Home Garden by Stella Otto

Kathi from Oak Hill Homestead - Raising Milk Goats Successfully by Gail Luttmann

Lisa Lynn from The Self Sufficient HomeAcre - 1 Year Subscription to Hobby Farm Home Magazine

Thank you for being a part of The HomeAcre Hop!

Good Luck Everyone!!

 




HomeAcre  Host:
Kathi@Oak Hill Homestead
Nancy@Prudent Living on the Home Front
Ann@ Summer Acres
Jenny@Black Fox Homestead
Lisa Lynn@Self Sufficient Home Acre
and Me @Clearwater Farm Journal
Mary@Homegrown on the Hill


Each host will feature her own picks from the posts linked the previous week. that means your chances of being featured are even better! Visit each of the blogs to see if you were featured this week! (Don't forget to link back to one of our blogs if you'd like to be featured!)


Featured Post:




How to test old seeds for viability | PreparednessMama


Congratulations! We love to read encouraging posts about homesteading. Please stop by to congratulate the featured blogger this week. If you were featured, grab the button to display proudly on your blog.


Clearwater Farm Journal
 



You are invited to share your original posts on: Homesteading, livestock care, gardening, environmentally friendly farming, self sufficiency, preparedness, off grid living, healthy recipes, home remedies and herbal concoctions, green living, homeschooling, food preservation, environmentally friendly crafts and home decor, photo posts of natural living and homesteading subjects! Now that’s a lot of information to share! If it fits any of these topics, we want to hear about it :) There are just a few little rules to follow:

  • Family friendly posts only. ‘Nuff said :)
  • Please, no posts dedicated to advertising products.
  • Link as many appropriate posts as you’d like each week. Older posts are great too.
  • Please visit as many of the other posts as you can and let them know you found them here!
  • If you wish to be featured, you must link back to the hop (on either host’s blog) with the button or a text link, and please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and/or Pinterest!
  • Please follow us by email! You’ll receive notice when the hop is open for business. :)
  • Only share content that you have created.
  • Please remember that the whole idea of a blog hop is to visit the other bloggers and make connections and friendships…so share the linky love!
  • By linking to this hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post if you are featured. We will also include one photo from your post in the interest of sending visitors your way :)

                    To keep things fresh on the Hop PLEASE do not share a post that you have previously linked up.

Any post that does not fit in the guidelines will be removed. Thank you for participating!!

Clearwater Farm Journal




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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Venison Stew in the Electric Pressure Cooker



As I mentioned in a previous post, we ran out of beef and have been using venison in its place.
It has been met with some resistance, but after realizing that has no affect on whats for dinner, they have conceded. You hardly notice it in spicier foods like tacos and chili, but I have had to dress it up some in regular dishes. Today I made "Beef" Stew. We don't make big announcements about the fact that it is  really "Venison" stew.

If you have an Electric Pressure Cooker follow the instructions that are specific to your model.




 Venison Stew

2 pounds cubed Venison (fat removed)
2 Tablespoons Oil ( I like Olive Oil)
2 Cups Beef Broth (or  water)
1 onion
6-8 peeled and quartered potatoes
1 pound carrots, peeled (I used baby carrots)

garlic
salt
pepper


Turn Pressure Cooker on the "Brown" setting. Add oil.
Place the meat, half the onion, garlic, salt and pepper (to taste)

Brown.
Add Broth (or water)
Turn the "Brown" setting off and set the Pressure Cooker to 10 minutes on the "LOW Pressure" setting. Place lid on cooker (make sure the regulator knob is set on "seal).

After pressure cooker shuts off, CAREFULLY, release the steam (follow your cookers instructions).
Add potatoes, carrots, rest of onion and place the lid back on and set for 10 more minutes on the "LOW Pressure" setting. (make sure the regulator knob is set on seal)
After the Pressure Cooker shuts off (shows 0 time left and beeps) release pressure CAREFULLY (follow your cookers instructions).
Unplug Pressure Cooker:

To make gravy

Add 1/8cup flour to one cup cold water. Stir well.
Add to ingredients in the Pressure Cooker and stir well. 

If too thick add more water. 


Perfect for a cold winter day!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Winter Projects for the Winter Blahs

Lake Michigan 


I hear rumors of very cold temperatures and more snow....

I hate to admit it, but it is not even February and I am already thinking of spring. It is going to be a long haul if I don't get a better attitude.
Hobby Farms had an article that shared 7 ideas for beating the winter blahs

*Purge-get organized
*Rekindle-finish projects
*Connect-draw inspiration and learn from farmers
*Expose-expose yourself to new perspectives
*Pamper-give your body some TLC
*Play-put some fun into your day
*Dream-Fresh ideas

http://www.hobbyfarms.com/crafts-and-nature/beat-winter-blahs-7-tips.aspx


From that list, I have been putting together a list of projects to work on to get through the long winter days ahead.

Knitting: Great winter project-I just need to move on from scarves and dishcloths. I get caught in my comfort zone and have a hard time moving forward. On to more challenging things. Any ideas for a novice knitter?

Hand Spinning- My wheel has been dusted off and has been in use quite a bit this winter. I am still working on the Tunis Roving, Mike processed for me. It is getting a little easier. My goal is to spin the yarn, dye the yarn, knit the yarn. I am thinking, maybe a hat for Mike. He would appreciate it, even with all of the mistakes it is bound to have.

Soap Making: I am getting ready to make my second batch. I am down to three bars from the first batch. I just need to remember to add more lemongrass this time.

My house could use some organizing, Sheep registrations could get filled out, we'll see.... 

How are you beating the winter blahs?? 



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Taking Inventory: Lambing Supplies

  
We are not scheduled to have any lambs for a little while yet (a few in February) but I do like to do an inventory a month or two earlier, to make sure we have what we need to begin the lambing season.

Some of the things are used with every lamb and other items are used occasionally when things do not go as planned.

Tincture of Iodine (7 percent)- . We use a teat dipper to dip the lambs navel cord with the iodine , right after the lamb is born.

Lamb Carrier-This is used when the ewe has her lambs on pasture and we want to move the lamb and mother to another location. It cradles the lamb and you can carry the lamb at your side. The ewe will be able to keep track of her lamb and follow along. If there are two, we just carry the other one.

Towels- Towels come in handy when the weather is chilly and we want to help dry the lamb off so it doesn't lose too much body heat.

Nutri-Drench- A liquid supplement that can be used for weak newborns.

Selenium and Vitamin E Gel- A supplement.

Scale-Not necessary, but it is nice to be able to weigh the lambs at birth.

Syringe and Tube- You use this to tube feed a lamb that is weak and has no sucking reflex (which they do not have if they are too cold or weak)  You place the tube,  down the esophagus of the lamb, the tube is long enough to reach the lambs stomach. You attach the syringe and feed the lamb their mothers colostrum. This is a life saving skill and should be learned if you raise sheep or goats.

Elastrator and bands- These are used to dock lambs tails which is done at about a week old. It is also used to castrate Ram Lambs when they are a little older. 

Syringes and Needles- We give a vaccine called CD/T when we dock the lambs tails. We use it to protect against Tetanus.

Nipples- We only need these when we have a bottle lamb and we usually only have one of those if the lamb is  rejected by their mother. That doesn't happen too often,(thankfully) but we do, occasionally, have a bummer lamb, so we keep nipples on hand.

When I did my inventory, I noticed we are out of gloves which we use if we have to assist a ewe, which is not common, but they are nice to have on hand, just in case.

Other that that, I think we are set!!






The Chicken Chick

HomeAcre # 53

anniversary button 1

Happy 1st Anniversary!

We're so happy to announce that The HomeAcre Hop is 1 Year Old!

Let's take a stroll down memory lane to the first ever HomeAcre Hop...that hop had 35 posts shared and 124 views in one year.

Our last hop had 129 posts shared and 1552 views in 4 days!

We've come a long way in 1 year and we have all of you to thank for that :)

Thank you for being a part of The HomeAcre Hop!

To Celebrate, we will be having a month of giveaways starting next week!





HomeAcre  Host:
Mary@Homegrown on the Hill
Kathi@Oak Hill Homestead
Nancy@Prudent Living on the Home Front
Ann@ Summer Acres
Jenny@Black Fox Homestead
Lisa Lynn@Self Sufficient Home Acre
and Me @Clearwater Farm Journal

Each host will feature her own picks from the posts linked the previous week. that means your chances of being featured are even better! Visit each of the blogs to see if you were featured this week! (Don't forget to link back to one of our blogs if you'd like to be featured!)






Featured Post:


Mint | Once Upon a Time in a Bed of Wildflowers


Congratulations! We love to read encouraging posts about homesteading. Please stop by to congratulate the featured blogger this week. If you were featured, grab the button to display proudly on your blog.

Clearwater Farm Journal
 
 

You are invited to share your original posts on: Homesteading, livestock care, gardening, environmentally friendly farming, self sufficiency, preparedness, off grid living, healthy recipes, home remedies and herbal concoctions, green living, homeschooling, food preservation, environmentally friendly crafts and home decor, photo posts of natural living and homesteading subjects! Now that’s a lot of information to share! If it fits any of these topics, we want to hear about it :) There are just a few little rules to follow:

  • Family friendly posts only. ‘Nuff said :)
  • Please, no posts dedicated to advertising products.
  • Link as many appropriate posts as you’d like each week. Older posts are great too.
  • Please visit as many of the other posts as you can and let them know you found them here!
  • If you wish to be featured, you must link back to the hop (on either host’s blog) with the button or a text link, and please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and/or Pinterest!
  • Please follow us by email! You’ll receive notice when the hop is open for business. :)
  • Only share content that you have created.
  • Please remember that the whole idea of a blog hop is to visit the other bloggers and make connections and friendships…so share the linky love!
  • By linking to this hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post if you are featured. We will also include one photo from your post in the interest of sending visitors your way :)

                    To keep things fresh on the Hop PLEASE do not share a post that you have previously linked up.

Any post that does not fit in the guidelines will be removed. Thank you for participating!!


Clearwater Farm Journal








Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Notes from Shepherds Weekend



Mike and I recently attended the Shepherds Weekend that is hosted by the Michigan Sheep Breeders Assn.

We attended on Saturday, which was  packed full of sessions, along with a trade show. They also offer a youth program that the girls were able to attend.  They had a hands on session about parasites, which I am not sure they appreciated, even though it was informative. It's a girl thing! They did enjoy the second part of the program where they were able to tour Michigan State University's Sheep Program.

Mike took the more technical sessions about parasites, grazing, and raising replacement ewes while I went to sessions about "selling" the farm, managing small flocks, and using social media.

I really enjoyed the session "Selling the Farm"

It wasn't really "new" information, I had heard most of it before, but always nice to be reminded and to walk away knowing what I am doing well and what I need to improve on.
Some of the notes I took were on marketing and where and how we can market our farm products:
Website
Farm Blogs
Sheep Associations
Facebook
Etsy Shop
Fiber and Homesteading Groups
Homesteading Today
Fiber Guilds
Fairs
Host Events

Other notes....
Determining what your products are worth, setting a price and sticking to it.
Educate! Tell people about your farm and products.
Know your products, example use your wool, eat lamb.
Offer consistency in the quality.

I also attended Social Media 202.

One of things I found interesting, was that a lot of  the people that were on the panel, got involved in social media to educate others about agriculture.
One of the women said she started her blog when she had an acquaintance tell her she thought it was wrong that she would kill a sheep to get its wool. What??
 She said it opened her eyes to how disconnected people can be to farm issues.
There were others who shared similar stories. I never really thought about that aspect of social media.
I agree with what was said. A lot of people are detached from where their food comes from and a lot of the other products they use every day. I have seen downright lies about how animals are raised or how products are made. I never thought to educate the masses! One farm does educational youtube videos about different farming practices. Others have websites selling their farm products and services. Overall it was an interesting discussion.

I also like that Mid States Wool Growers attend, and offer sheep supplies that we can purchase, that are not available locally. Always nice to be able to stock up on supplies.

Overall it was a great event!  It is nice to meet together with other  'sheep' people. I always learn something new and walk away with motivation to improve our sheep operation.


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