Let me say right off that I am not an expert on sheep and my experience is limited to dairy sheep at this point in time. If you are thinking about getting livestock and considering sheep, especially if your thinking of dairy sheep, hopefully this is a good simple introduction.
If I had to pick one specie of livestock to keep, I would be torn between dairy cows and sheep. Goats are great and kids are the best babies. However, there's something about sheep I really like. However, it's about finding the right fit for you.
Yes, Tess is holding a chicken upside down. And, she's answering the judge's questions about the chicken's vent (butt). This nice buff Orpington lays nice creamy eggs. When she gets old, she'd be destined for the pot to make amazing broth. I don't remember what happened to this particular girl, but she was a pretty nice hen as most Orpingtons.
We like to order a variety of heirloom and exotic laying chickens. Some of them we can't get sexed, but only come straight run, which is both males and females. We don't want to keep the roosters as long as the hens as they don't lay, end up fighting, and aren't as good to eat when they get older. My husband usually took the kids to do the deed, and that's when they met the spaghetti western chicken. Don't read on if you're faint of heart as this is about killing chickens and I don't sugar coat anything.
I understand wanting, craving to live in the country surrounded by the part of the world you "create." I get loving animals and like having them around you. The thought of walking in from the garden and chicken coops with produce still warm from the sun and eggs that make store-bought taste like flavorless imitations. I really get it. I also know many people go make a go at it and are surprised - in a bad way - by the amount of work this life demands. It gives real meaning to the need to work smart, not just hard. Here are some of my thoughts of making the change and the good and bad to anticipate. Keep in mind, it's not the same for everyone.
What are those little metal tags my sheep and goats wear from the time they are a few days old? Those are identification tags that are part of the USDA Scrapie Eradication Program. When I first learned about it, my veterinarian required I have my animals tagged prior to drawing labs that allowed me to sell milk. If this disease has drawn that much interest in monitoring, I was curious to learn more. I am in no way a scrapie expert, but there is a little of what I learned.
We've lived in crowded cities (Bay Area, New York City), semi-rural, and completely rural areas. There are definitely differences. I remember visiting country relatives and things were quite different and I didn't know why. Here is my attempt at answering some of those sorts of questions ... hopefully I answer right, but other people may have different answers.
Feta is a traditional Greek cheese know for its tangy flavor and crumbly texture. In Greece, it is made from sheep milk or sheep and up to 30% goat milk. It is an ancient custom dating back to at least the Byzantine Empire when it was first recorded, and it's also mentioned in Homer's Odyssey. In Greek cuisine, it is a staple on the table and served all of the time, like salt or pepper. The best feta is very tangy and crumbly - aged up to one year!
So Greeks love feta and eat it on practically everything, but how about Americans? And, how does ours compare?
For meatloaf lovers, I am about to be blasphemous. I think many meatloaf recipes are disgusting - especially those with the sugar-ketchup crust on top. This meatloaf recipe isn't like that. I can make it with ground beef and lamb from my farm, plus bleu cheese I made, spinach I grew, bread crumbs from old homemade bread, an Italian blend of dried herbs that I grew, and eggs from my hens.
Or, I can just buy all of the ingredients and it's easier while still being delicious.
This is one of my Sunday meals, so I try to do as much of the work the day before. I like to serve this with Armenian flatbread (using my bread maker set on the dough cycle), a garlic vegetable sauté (vegs chopped the day before), and a dessert (possum pie made the day before). I also opt to cook this one in muffin tins, but it can be baked in a traditional loaf pan with the length of time increased. I like to use meatloaf pans so that any fat drains out from the loaf.
Wife to Brandon, mother to Tess and Liam, farmer, entrepreneur, cook & baker, nurse, and accountant who loves to try new things, travel, and work toward greater self-reliance.