Different Lifestyle

I realize the posts I publish exhibit a different lifestyle than most lifestyles of those reading the posts. I enjoy sharing parts of my life with others. I say parts of my life as it is very to post about the varied things I do in one day of living.

My life is multifaceted. I am a mother. Although my children are grown, when you are a mom, you are a mom forever. I am proud of my children and their families.

I am a grandmother. I currently have eleven grandchildren. I will have a granddaughter born in June. And the triplets will be born in September. Two of my grandchildren have graduated from high school.

My biggest passion is horses. I professionally trained horses for twenty years. My children grew up during the time I was training, raising and selling horses. I love the foals, and being the first to teach them about people and starting their training on the ground. Currently I own four horses.

My children were involved in 4-H. You do not have to live on a farm to join and receive the benefits of being involved in 4-H. My children showed horses, pigs, sheep, rabbits and poultry. But they also did rocketry, leather craft, ceramics, baking, sewing, and photography and painting. There are many projects a child can learn to do and exhibit that do not involve an animal or having to have a farm. I was a project leader of many of the projects my children choose to participate in.

4-H teaches more than projects. Youth learn proper rules and etiquette for council meetings and meetings of government entities. They learn to present what they have made and learned. Record keeping is also done and judged. There are local, regional, district and national offices the youth campaign for and are elected to by their peers. In my opinion, 4-H is a great place for youth being homeschooled, it provides a fun environment for learning and meeting others with the same interests.

I taught horsemanship clinics and judged horse shows, poultry shows, rabbit shows and even judged llamas once. I did not know much about llamas, I told the show management as much. But I was present and the llama judge was not. I was chosen for the position.

Working with others to learn to ride and the various projects I taught in 4-H, I realize people do not know what I am talking about at times. They do not know the procedure and steps to get an animal ready for exhibition or a piece of ceramic.

Currently, I am a sheep farmer. I love being a sheep farmer. Watching the lambs, talking with the sheep, and seeing my breeding program evolve bring me joy and completeness.

Be assured I care very much for my animals. They are living beings. Yes, I do eat my own sheep. I also am thankful to the animal, and there is a ceremony, that gives its life so I may live. I sit up all night with a sick lamb. I have sick lambs in my house, along with the unpleasant odor and mess.

I am willing to answer questions concerning my posts on things you, the reader, may not understand. I know the posts I read are from people who do very different activities and have different passions than myself. I am not afraid to ask a question. We gain knowledge by seeking, asking and listening.

amtolle

The Importance of “Poop”

I am currently a sheep farmer and have been for seven years. Prior to being a sheep farmer I raised and trained horses. I have decades of raising horses. My favorite thing to do is to breed horses and raise foals. I love baby horses.

A daily activity that has become so routine I do not realize I am doing it most of the time is to look at the poop. Yes, I look on the ground making sure the poop is the right color, size and texture of every animal. And on the occasion I see an animal releasing poop, I watch. Sounds a little perverted, but in truth it is very helpful to a person raising animals.

Animals can not verbally speak English or other languages spoken by humans. Animals can not tell me their tummy feels bad or they feel bloated, until the pain is so extreme the cause is life threatening.

When my grandson was three years old, he was living with us. I was raising horses, we had a few foals on the ground. I was walking around using a small stick to look at the horse poop on the ground.

He asked “Granny what are you doing? That is yucky.”

I told him I was checking for worms (parasites) in the horse poop, to see if our horses had worms. Worms make horses sick. So I look for worms to know if I need to give them medicine (dewormer) so they do not get really sick.

“Oh” he replies, “What do these worms look like?”

On a different day while helping my husband put grain in buckets to feed each horse, he saw my husband put corn oil in the buckets and mix it. “What is that for Grandpa?” he asked. My husband always being humorous, replied “It makes the horses poop straight. This is their poop straight medicine.” The truth reason for putting oil in the horse feed was to make their hair coat shine.

The next day, while doing feeding and watering the horses with me, he asks, “Granny, how do you know if a horse is pooping straight? All I see are piles.”

I asked where he heard “poop straight”. After being informed of his and Grandpa’s conversation. I showed him how horse poop should look. A couple of the foals had really loose poop, so I showed him what poop looks like with they were starting or had a tummy ache. These foals had some digestive stress as their mothers were in foal heat, and it is common for foals to get running poop.

Currently, I am caring for a lamb who I purchased that does not have a mommy to nurse from. This little lamb was not doing gaining weight well with the flock. I wanted to make sure it was eating enough. When I took the lamb out of the flock, it became more stressed. The next day, the poop was runny or scours, its urine and poop were the same consistency. It is not good for a lamb to have scours, they dehydrate very quickly. I treated the lamb. Every day I check the lamb. I have started cutting the top of grass to feed the lamb. Yesterday, the lamb’s poop was not as liquidy, but still runny. A sign that things might be getting better. Today, the lamb’s poop was solid, not shaped right, but definitely not runny, a good sign.

Looking at poop tells me how the digestive system is working in the animal and if the animal is sick or not doing well.

When we go to a doctor visit, are you ever asked “How are your bowel movements?”

Poop is important for animals and humans.

amtolle

Change and Comfort Zone

I do not like change very much. I like to stay in my comfort zone that I worked so hard to get to. I am very uncomfortable meeting new people, being in a crowd of people I do not know. I have trust issues, I do not trust people.

Today, I learned a big change took place. The sheep and goat auction where I sell my market lambs and ewes that are getting old, is closed. For a reason unknown to me, the placed was forced to close for an undetermined amount of time.

It took me about four years to get comfortable with the main crowd of people who attend that sheep and goat auction twice a month. I have developed a couple of friends there. Now, I have to find a place to take my sheep for sale.

Some suggest to sell the sheep online. I tried that once. There are so many people who scam. I was sent “bank checks” that were not from the bank institution on the check. I had people copy my pictures and try to sell my animals as their own. Plus, people coming to the place is not a comfortable activity for me. The dishonest people I have been involved with when I was selling dogs, I just do not want to go that route.

Today, I did research on livestock auction places. I looked at the reviews, how long they have been in business, how many animals that are sold there and what the prices are. I have found a couple who were in lawsuits concerning the animals representation at the time sold-I will not sell at those places. I did find one livestock auction a couple of hours away I am planning on visiting. I have two months to find a place to sell my sheep, I have time to research and ask questions.

I will be uncomfortable for awhile until I learn how people show their emotions and react to things. Although it will be stressful and tiring for me to go, the upside is I will meet new people and maybe get more contacts to sell breeding sheep.

The closure of the sheep and goat auction near me will effect a lot of people. I have already received texts and calls from small butcher shops that slaughter and market the meat near where I live. The big buyers at the auction are no longer able to purchase because the is closed, so their clients are looking for sheep. There are even more people looking for a place to buy sheep for pets, to raise for income and to sell their sheep. I am not alone in this situation. I am sure I will see a few familiar faces as I look for a place to sell my sheep.

The next two months will be interesting, frustrating and something that I have to do.

amtolle

Aftermath

Today was sheep auction day. Twice a month there is a sheep and goat auction I attend. I look forward to the auctions. My one consistent social event. The time to gather with those who I have met over the past seven years learning how to raise sheep and make money doing so. I have several friends who attend regularly. The auction meets twice a month, twice a month we visit and catch up as we buy and/or sell sheep and goats. The auction provides us a place to meet and talk about our sheep and goats. Sheep and goats are a source of income for me and my friends. Today’s first question was “Were you hit by the tornados?” instead of “How are you doing?”.

The auction had record numbers of sheep and goats to sell, due to the tornados that hit the area a few days ago. How does tornadoes affect the number of sheep and goats selling in the auction?

Today’s auction was very large, almost 3,000 animals went through the sale. There really was not much room for that many animals. The animals are kept in pens waiting to be sold, once they are sold, the animals are moved to the sold pens. Problem today there were so many animals there for the sale, there was not enough sold pens. The large buyers, those who by fifty or more sheep at every auction get their own pen. During the first part of the auction, there were not enough large pens to group the animals the large buyers had purchased. Why were there so many sheep and goats at the auction today?

People’s barns and pens were destroyed, removing any place to keep their animals. They brought all of their animals to the auction to be sold. Others needed money and sold their animals for the monetary value in order to replace items lost or find somewhere to live until their homes are repaired or replaced.

One friend of mine, lost all his sheep, except three ewes and a one lamb. He sold the ewes, lamb and the only livestock guard dog he could find at the auction today. His barns and pens are heaps of rubble, he has no place to keep the surviving sheep.

My heart goes out to those who lost animals, have injured and maimed animals from the tornados. I also feel for those who are left with the only choice to sell everything and start over after they rebuild their homes, barns and pens. Sheep and goats are a source of income for most of us who gather at the sheep and goat auction twice a month.

I spent six years building my sheep flock to the quality and numbers I have today. I put forth hard work and sweat in the care of my animals. To have to rebuild would be emotional heart wrenching.

Yes, these strong people are going to rebuild what was destroyed. They will buy and restock their the flocks of sheep and herds of goats. The number of total dispersment sale animals was saddening. But the past seven years has showed me these people are strong, they are determined and they have always had sheep and goats and will continue to have sheep and goats.

amtolle

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

Lambing Has Began

I love to watch new life enter the world. I raise sheep, so I watch baby lambs being born. The group of ewes that are currently having lambs are first time ewes or first time mothers. I raise most of my ewes. This group of first time mothers I have raised from lambs.

Two days ago, the first lamb arrived. The lamb arrived in the early morning before I had begun my day. A boy lamb or ram lamb was born. The ewe is a good mother, taking care of her lamb and knowing where he is at all times. Mothering is a trait learned from their mothers when they were born. This ewe #32 had her lamb on her own. Spring lambing 2022 has officially begun.

Today was Sale Barn day, the day I go to the sheep auction to socialize and see what sheep are selling for. I also went today with the hope of purchasing another livestock guard dog puppy, a male. I was able to get our new livestock guard dog puppy, a male, eight weeks old, named Bob. I check the expectant mothers several times a day. Upon returning home, I opened our gate and felt I needed to look at the expectant mothers.

One ewe was in labor, and it was not good, only one leg instead of two and a head. No time to waste, with gate still open and sheep in the yard to graze, truck still running, I went to work. First, find the others leg. Sheep are very small, so any feeling for a leg or nose is done with two or three fingers. Barely found a second foot, but not sure if this ewe is caring a single lamb or twins. Hoping the foot belongs to the lamb I can see, I try to pull the foot forward to free up the shoulders and allow the lamb to enter the world. Things are too slippery. I get a piece of hay bale twine, with two fingers put a loop around the foot. By now the lamb’s tongue is blue, not a good sign. I pull on the twine hoping to move the foot and leg forward, the ewe grunts and pushes, finally the leg adjusts and the birth starts progressing. She pushes and I pull to deliver a little boy. I instantly clear the head, and put the lamb in front of mom. I see his rib cage is moving, meaning he is alive, not to get him invigorated by mom licking on him. Mom is in a little bit of shock from the stalled delivery, so I wipe my wet hands from the birth on her nose, she begins to lick and talk to her lamb.

A few minutes later I checked to see their progress, lamb was nursing, mom was doing good.

I am thankful I have the knowledge and experience to assist this ewe with the delivery of her lamb. I did not always have the knowledge or experience. I started raising sheep in 2016. Although I had assisted horses in delivery, a sheep is much smaller and more of a challenge to assist in the delivery of young.

With anything we want to learn, we have to take a step forward to learn and do. At first we are not good at what we are doing. There is no “instant success” in any activity or adventure. You have to gain knowledge, skill and experience to reach success.

I tried to get some videos on this post. I will have to take time to upload, download and whatever else I need to do to allow you the pleasure of seeing a new born lamb and mother. I did remember to bring the cell phone to take photos and video after. The situation before was serious, no time for photos.

Hope you enjoy. Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

amtolle

My Best Ranch Hand

MHT Hank, my best ranch hand.

I am a sheep farmer. I enjoy being a sheep farmer. I raise Dorper sheep which originated in South Africa and were introduced into the United States in 1993. Dorper sheep are a hair sheep breed raised for meat. Hair sheep do not need to be sheared as they shed off their winter coat. In my day to day chores, my helper is my dog, MHT Hank, registered border collie. I just call him Hank and he has become my best ranch hand.

Today, Hank did an awesome job assisting with the sorting or pulling of lambs off of the ewes. Once he understands the job at hand, I give very few commands. He and I work as a team. Now I could use alleys and chutes and a sorting gate, but I do not own a sorting gate. Hank and I go into the pen, separate some lambs, and herd them through the gate into another pen. Team work at its best.

MHT Hank holding sheep in a corner while I look them over.

I spent six months searching the internet and talking with people on locating a herding border collie puppy. I found a cattleman and horse trainer who only has one litter a year located in Colorado. I know nothing about bloodlines of border collies, but I really like the videos showing the parents working and the man’s philosophy on training horses on his website

http://www.mastershandtraining.com

I purchased MHT Hank at six weeks of age. When he was eight weeks he arrived from Colorado to Dallas, Texas by airplane. Puppies have to grow up before they can start learning to herd, but there are lessons they can learn as puppies.

If you want to learn to use herding dogs, have someone teach you first with a trained dog, before attempting to train one yourself. I did not do that, Hank and I learned together. I did however find a herding dog trainer that is extremely good at training and teaching, Faansie Basson. I paid for two lessons with Faansie Basson.

With two lesson and a DVD, I set about to train my first border collie to work. Thankfully Hank possesses enormous amount of natural ability and instinct for herding. I learned from me and I learned from Hank. His trainability is super, and when I figured I did something wrong, he would change to do things correctly.

People ask me how long does it take to train a border collie to herd. It takes six to eight months to teach a dog the commands. The dog has to work two years to gain experience and solidify the commands to work as a real team, with few commands. And a few dogs will learn their job so well, hardly any commands are needed, these are an exception and MHT Hank is one of those dogs.

Today, we sorted off lambs from the ewes as it was weaning time. The work is so much easier with a great ranch hand working with you. Good working border collies sale for $5,000 to $7,000 USD, and some well above that. For me, no amount of money can purchase by partner, MHT Hank.

amtolle

P.S. One year, hoping for 2023, MHT Hank and I will compete at the Meeker Classic Sheep Dog Herding Trial.

Me, Myself and I

I wear many hats during a day and have worn numerous hats during my lifetime. I was born and raised in the Four Corners area of the United States. I currently reside in north central Texas, United States.

I am the mother of four children, two boys and two girls. I have thirteen grandchildren. I am married and my husband has two children and six grandchildren. At times our house can be full of people, kids, and noise which is a lot of fun.

I currently work as a sheep farmer raising Dorper sheep. I enjoy being a sheep farmer. In the past I raised Appaloosa horses, the most affectionate and hard working breed of horse I have ever trained or ridden. I was a horse trainer and certified riding instructor, but my age now prevents the training of young horses. The training and instruction I do now is for pleasure not money. I ventured into herding trials with border collies, an activity since I raise sheep and use the dogs to work the sheep. I enjoy watching a border collie herd sheep, and I like the competition as well as the friendships at the trials.

In August of 2021, I started a website, grannys-homestead.com and started blogging about sheep, sheep farming and farm related writings. January 2022, I took on the challenge of Bloganaury from Word Press and have really enjoyed the reading of other bloggers writings as well as writing.

With this blogging I will share life experiences, opinions, craft projects and anything I feel like sharing to encourage others. Hope you enjoy what I share.

amtolle