Still a Sheep Farmer.

Some may wonder why my husband and I went to the sheep show and sale when a few days before we received three small grandchildren to care for. The stress of trying to get things done between diaper changes (all three are in diapers), feeding and caring for the children was enormous. Yet, it all had to be done.

Being a sheep farmer or in an agriculture business is not like other occupations. There is no emergency time off, as the sheep need fed. The sheep show and sale is a major influx of cash flow to the sheep farm. To miss the sheep show and sale is to cut 1/3 of our income from the sheep.

As a sheep farmer, I am doing something I enjoy, and raising sheep for an income. I had spent a year sorting through and selecting the sheep I would sale. Feeding and conditioning the rams for this show and sale. I had two rams I was feeding and working with for this show. When I clipped both of them, I noticed one ram was not ready for the show. The ram was a little light weight for this show date. The ram stayed home.

In order to show two rams, I had to show three ewes. I carefully selected three ewes. One ewe I had purchased at this same show/sale last year. One of the requirements is the sheep have to be guaranteed to produce lambs. This ewe had already produced a lamb and was pregnant again. The other two ewes were less than a year old, and I was going to keep them, but we needed the income we hoped to obtain from the show/sale. The ewe lambed on Easter morning, the Sunday before the show on Friday, and sale on Saturday.

Showing sheep is work. Work in prepping them for the show, clipping and bathing. Work in teaching them to lead and stand for judging months before the show date. Exercising the sheep daily to get muscle definition and condition on the sheep.

The Monday before the show, I was driving down the highway, wondering how I was going to care for three small children and show the sheep. I had to have a system or plan to get everything done. Driving for ten hours, gives a person time to think about a plan.

We did the sheep show, not all according to my plan. I had to make a decision, have my husband take care of and show the sheep and I care for three small children. I walked a lot of miles in a small area, hoping to see some of my sheep show while trying to keep children busy and not screaming. I was unable to see any of my sheep show. I only saw one sheep sale. We came home after the sale, very exhausted. On the drive home, I was thinking how am I going to care for my sheep and the children. I had to come up with a plan and schedule.

Along with a plan and schedule for the children and sheep, I had to figure out where to put children, their clothes and other items they needed. My house was no way “child proof”.

The schedule was made and over a week adjusted to get the care of children and sheep done each day. With little bits of time between caring for children, I have been “child proofing” my home, goal is to have all the “child proofing” done before the baby starts walking. I am close to reaching this goal, and the baby is close to walking on her own.

In the evenings, when my husband is home to help keep an eye on two very active toddlers, I spend time working on the projects I need completed for the sheep farm. The toddlers help do chores, although their help is more following us where we are going and not straying too far. Evening chores take longer as their little legs do not take the big steps we do while walking. Our pace is slow and steady to get the job done.

They take turns riding with me on the small tractor cleaning out sheds and moving dirt. There are times I have to remind them not to move the lever or push on a pedal. They do enjoy steering, while I keep a firm hand on the wheel. As they grow and learn, they will be able to do more, and be a real help.

I am still a sheep farmer. I can not turn off a light and have all the sheep stay where they are until I have time to turn the light back on and continue where I left off. I will work slow and steady to get the jobs done. As they get bigger and understand about the farm, they will be able to help more. Perhaps one day, one of them will be a sheep farmer as well.



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