Monday, August 9, 2010

august ram: canceled

I have decided to delay the ram's delivery and it may have cost me the ram. I emailed the breeder and explained to take him in August I would have to separate my flock into gender, leaving Maude alone in her own paddock or the ram alone in his. I don't like leaving herd animals alone like that. I did it for a while with Finn and he was far happier when she was shacking up with Alpacas and other goats. A ram in a box seemed like a lot of stress for all of us. For the ram, for me, for the sheep and Finn on the other side of the fence.

I couldn't just throw him in with the flock. If I didn't separate the boys and girls for at least two months: I'd have lambs in February. A new shepherd without a warm barn and lambing jugs needs later season pasture lambing. It wasn't a good idea.

No, an August ram wouldn't be fair to anyone. And the breeder did state she would not sell him to anyone who would keep him alone...I think the breeder was disappointed in changing the dates. She said if he was still available in late fall she'd let me know. I should have told her I couldn't possibly take him that early, but I didn't realize the consequences till recently and I just didn't know what else to do. I can't just have animals here for the sake of having animals. A breeding ram stuck alone in a pen doesn't seem fair, he should be with a flock of other rams/wethers. Does anyone else keep rams alone? How do they fare?

So no ram this month, sorry for jumping the gun. I made an ass out of myself to the breeder, but I'd rather eat crow and go back on the arrangement then have a ram in my fields I wasn't ready for. I made a mistake setting up delivery dates but at least I stopped before I pulled the trigger.

I am beginning to realize I shouldn't be sharing news off the cuff like this. While I don't mind sharing all my mistakes and updates right as they happen. The fallout of emails and angry feedback is getting heavy. I can take whatever criticism you have to offer, but I prefer advice. I can learn from advice and fix my mistakes, but angry emails just leave two people's day worse.

85 Comments:

Blogger Kim said...

Even if this fellow isn't available later, another good ram will come along. You had to cancel - your reasons were valid. So you jumped the gun - aren't we all guilty of that! *hugs*
We've got a funny-looking mutt of a ram who's an absolute doll. He waits outside our front door for treats (yes, we let him and his two wives loose - they don't wander), and he plays endlessly with our dog.
I cannot wait for lambs from this crew!

August 9, 2010 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Pricilla said...

I don't have sheep, but goats. My buck is in his own pen. He is fine. He can see "the girls" but he does not suffer from being alone in his pen. In fact when I had two bucks in there all they did was fight. When I tried to introduce a whether to keep him company it did not go well.

You might be surprised...

Unless sheep are very different from goats.

August 9, 2010 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I have seen in all the goat books with bucks in their own pens. I do know the breeder would not sell him to me if i kept him seperated. So maybe it's not all sheep, but this particular sheep.

August 9, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

You must always do what you think is right, for you, for your animals and for Cold Antler. Other people are not walking the same path, even if they think they are! I love reading about all your plans AND the way those plans change and evolve. I think it shows great character to admit to a mistake.

August 9, 2010 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

You must always do what you think is right, for you, for your animals and for Cold Antler. Other people are not walking the same path, even if they think they are! I love reading about all your plans AND the way those plans change and evolve. I think it shows great character to admit to a mistake.

August 9, 2010 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

Hey Jenna, don't know how I got that posted twice, can you take one off please?

August 9, 2010 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

I know from personal experience, sheep are far more flock-y than goats. I think you did the right thing. Even my goat buck did better once he had a castrated buddy in with him. Goats have rut seasons that are far harsher than rams, as well, and you can't keep them together nearly as well as sheep do. Like the others said, another guy will come along. I was worried over the same thing last year and ended up dealing with raising a bottle baby indoors in the middle of winter because there was no other way to keep my ram with other animals-he had to be with his ladies. He'll have a buddy this year because another ram did come along. Hang in there-you know what's best for your flock!

August 9, 2010 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger farmwifetwo said...

It's better to have your ram arrive when you are ready for him instead of tossing dead lambs into the woods for the coyotes to eat. Blunt.... but true.

Also, you will have to separate him sooner or later or you will be lambing at the wrong time. Again, by waiting, you can prepare him a place to stay during those "off" months. Your local sheep association should be able to give you the answers to the questions you have.

August 9, 2010 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger melldot said...

Jenna
Don't feel badly, I started with Southdown Babydolls last fall, and just with the logistics of things, my ram arrived first, with the ewes not coming till two months later, I kept him in the barn, and the chickens were his only company, I spent tons of time with him but could tell he wasn't happy. Once the girls arrived the change that occurred in him was amazing. After learning that lesson, I personally wouldn't keep sheep alone. This year I am keeping back my last ram lamb to be wethered so I have a 'spare' buddy if I have to separate the ram out from the ewes as I'm not sure I will be breeding in the fall. Don't let anyone make you feel badly, this farming thing has a pretty steep learning curve, and no one has the right to judge. Keep your head up and know you are making the right decisions for yourself and your livestock.

August 9, 2010 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

I don't know much about sheep breeding, as I raise horses only at this time, but is artificial insemination an option for sheep? Then you wouldn't have to worry about separating and timing, and could time your lambing for the optimal time of year.

August 9, 2010 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger David Shearer said...

We've tried to keep rams separate from the ewes and they did just fine. The fences developed many problems however!!! You are correct, this will be a problem for you. Our solution was to "board" the neighbors ram for a week or two every breeding season. It's a lot cheaper that way.
Your foresight in realizing this problem ahead of time confirms that you are a quick learner, Jenna. You're going to make it!

August 9, 2010 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

You did the right thing. No sheep should be alone. But don't you have two wethers, or am I confused? If you do, you could put one wether with Maude and the other wether with the new ram. Finn could be with either group, but probably better off with Maude.

I have a group of six sheep plus 5 lambs, and any day now I need to separate the boys and the girls. My ram, wether, and ram lambs will go in one paddock while the ewes and ewe lambs will go in another.

Anyway, it's better to delay adding an animal than to get one you're not ready for. And only you know when you're ready.

August 9, 2010 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

I commend your honesty. I love hearing the ups and downs of farming. I was perturbed to hear of your un-fan mail.

There is one thing that I have learned on my journey being a mother, which I have found applies to just about all of life, and that is that many, many -far too many- people will tell you what you're doing is wrong. Or bad. Or whatever.

Guess what? It's completely Not.

There is no one in this world that can judge our actions. Even if what we do just doesn't work out, doesn't go by the book or be what experts recommend, its our way of learning and that is never wrong.

As long as we have a true and good heart, mistakes will be made. We'll grow from it and do better next time.

Blow off those messages with a good blessing that you have a choice who you let in your world and when. Be them people or rams.

August 9, 2010 at 5:55 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

kathleen: I could split them in half, but I only have one shelter. The second pasture only has one shade tree and it's spotty at best. I am not prepared to build the barn yet either... so they would be on grass with no shelter.

I get A LOT of unfan mail!

August 9, 2010 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

I can't believe so many people would send so many negative things your way! That's such a bummer and just plain unkind.

August 9, 2010 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Are you kidding me, Jenna? You totally did the right thing! You considered your options and practiced "fire prevention" rather than waiting for a catastrophe to happen and then dealing with the fallout.

That's what a wise farmer would do. Good on ya, girl. NO shame in deciding to wait until you're ready.

August 9, 2010 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

WHAT?!?! You are human?! You make mistakes?! ;)

August 9, 2010 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Not about the ram. I get emails about having no pride, about having the donations button on the blog, about making the farm life seem too romantic or easy, about writing a book (a memoir) when i wasn't an expert, about my dogs eating chickens, about how i messed up with my bees. Some people think i abuse my animals cause the rabbits live in hutches or the goat kid was in a dog pen. I get a lot of negative emails.

One person emailed me to tell me about bigfoot. that wasnt yelling, that was kinda great.

I think people assume because i made my life public, or farm life at least, that I declare myself and expert.

I am not an expert.

I do get chickens though.

August 9, 2010 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Marcia said...

Hi Jenna - Marcia in WY here. I have had a flock of around 20 Navajo Churro sheep for 6 years. Up until this year I did not keep a ram - only rented one for a month to breed my ewes. Would that work for you? And you wouldn't need one for this year anyway as you are getting bred ewes - right?

August 9, 2010 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger KBMurray said...

Jenna, I love your blog and how honest it is. Sad to think people search around for blogs to read just so they can disagree and send mean letters. I know you are tough and can take it, but what they deserve is the delete button (and not your time).

August 9, 2010 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Hi Jenna. Here's a bit of advice for you on the subject of both rams and nay-sayers. And I'm not sure if it's even advice more as some of my general ramblings but perhaps it has value to you.
Rams - I started this year with 3 girls and 1 ram, everyone was familiar with each other but the ram wasn't allowed to "play" with the girls. He was a sad sight indeed all alone in the previous owner's barn. For a month and a half it was the four of them out all the time. Since my sheep are Shetlands the ewes only gestate in the fall, which gives me time still to set up a Ram pen so that I can control breeding. Luck dealt me three ram lambs and 0 girls, but I've acquired two more 2010 ewe lambs as well as two older ewes and one more intact ram lamb to increase my flock's genetic diversity. The rams, ram lambs, and wethers really like to hang out together with the girls but at least with each other. You have made a really smart decision by delaying the purchase of the ram because he wouldn't be too happy and in all likeliness you would have had early Spring lambs regardless of your attempts to hold him back from the girls.

Regarding Naysayers - Well you can't please them all, and why would you even care to try when they say mean things! Sure we all make mistakes. I've made some too. Given that you and I are new to farming and weren't lucky enough to be raised in the environment, I think we do a damn good job, even when we mess things up. I'm sure a percentage of the hate is outright jealousy at seeing you with book deals whereas those people are working hard at homesteading and have no book deal and no popularity generally speaking. And part of it is certainly people with a different way of thinking who wish we would be less ambitious and more cautious in our farm expansions. But hey, the haters are gonna hate no matter what you do, so you just gotta keep making your own kind of music. Which you do very well.

August 9, 2010 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Meagan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 9, 2010 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Knute Rife said...

It's your stead, run it your way. Just remember you have the option of running a decision past the board here before you make it.

August 9, 2010 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I love that you share everything with us - the good, and the bad. That's life. It always amazed me when I kept a blog that random people felt that they could send me an email and berate me and my decisions in such an anonymous format.

I draw strength from your successes and feel for you when things don't go as planned. But rest assured, you have TONS more cheerleaders than you do detractors.

August 9, 2010 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thanks guys, and Meagan, I checked out your blog. A new border collie (red!) and sheep! wished you lived closer. Check out the Kingston Sheepdog Trials! go to nebca's website for details.

August 9, 2010 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Jenna, I don't comment often, but had to this time! Please don't let the negative people get you down or make you feel bad about any of the decisions you've made or will make in the future. I'm nearly twice your age and you've taught me so much. We're preparing to bring chickens home (can't wait for your new book) and are also making plans to purchase our first beef steer to raise and then butcher. Thank you for your honesty and your courage-it's made me rethink many things and as a result, our little farm is busting out all over!! Thank you!

August 9, 2010 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

That's the beauty of the computer keyboard. The Delete Button!

I guess I'm in shock that you get hate mail. You have an honest clarity in your blogs.

You are out there, on your own, living YOUR dream. It is evident in your books and blog that you possess every piece of who and what you are. Never stop sharing the ups and downs, it's teaching me and others so much.

Take care!

August 9, 2010 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger John said...

To share a lesson in prudence is one we should all enjoy and take with us on our daily journey. Thanks Jenna for ALL that you share. Your blog wouldn't amount to a hill of beans without your candor.

August 9, 2010 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Some things to keep in mind when you get un-fan mail that might be of help are:

One of the well-documented and reported phenomena of the cyber-age is that a great many people do not mind their manners when they think or feel that they're anonymous, particularly if they've grown up in this new information age. These are the same people who would not say so much as boo to you in person. Guess what? They are cowards. They are also ill-behaved. Opinions (especially unsolicited ones) are like assholes; everybody's got one, but they're better left under wraps. I think it's also interesting that they have to make their unpleasant selves heard to you alone and not in the somewhat public forum of the blogosphere- double cowardice.

It's hard not to get your ire up when someone's slingin' it at you, but remember that no one, NO ONE, is perfect enough to judge another human being. It's hard for us not to, being human, but express it is just plain arrogant. I mean, who died and made them Jesus, hmmm?

Those of us who have been with you since the beginning remember very well that you're just one person, trying this huge experiment with her life and making that experiment very public, and that this same person never purported to be an expert- she's only explained what she's done and encouraged others to try it too. Sure you're making mistakes- but guess what? We're ALL learning from them.

So going forward, don't dignify cowards that criticize you via email with a response of any kind. Just delete them. You can even say out loud, "Goodby, Useless!" as you hit the delete button. You have a lot of fans who love what you're doing, so never mind the others. 'Kay?

August 9, 2010 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger Anton said...

I have Shetlands and Jacobs. I keep my 5 rams together and should one of them have to be separated from the rest for one reason or another, it doesn't take a mind reader to see and hear that the lone ram is miserable. Sheep are flocking animals and you're right about wanting to keep him with others of his own kind. I guess what I'm most surprised about is that the breeder doesn't want to wait a little while. If not this ram, then another will come along. Don't sweat it.

August 9, 2010 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Neely said...

Have you ever heard the saying "hurt people hurt people"... Generally I find that people who say nasty things or hurtful comments are hurting themselves, and I feel sorry for them. One of the characteristics that keeps me reading your blog is your lack of ego. I find many "green-living, save-the-earth" blogs, articles and books are too self righteous and "preachy" to hold my interest. I appreciate your honesty, your energy and above all your mistakes.
Keep doing what you're doing and follow your heart which rarely steers you wrong. Remember, water which is too clean has no fish.
Live the life you love.

August 9, 2010 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

shetland sheep are all the rage!!

I will be an outcast with my highland scotts. but we can swap fleeces.

August 9, 2010 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Q said...

I'm surprised to hear that *you* get negative emails. When I found your blog (because I guess we share a reader), one of my first thoughts was "This is the kind of blog that never gets hate mail," and that made me happy. I mean, it's a farm for crying out loud!

I have gotten some nasty, terrible comments and so I started moderating.

As far as the donation button is concerned, I put up ads and people told me TO put up a donation button inside. You might consider going with Adsense ads. You probably get enough traffic to make it worth it.

You have an AMAZING blog. Don't forget it. I love what you are doing here!

August 9, 2010 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Debra said...

Jenna,

Follow your gut instinct, delete the haters email and please know you are inspiration to us other small farmers.

Made From Scratch is the reason I have a hive of bees, 4 laying hens and four new Maran chicks. You inspire us with the good, the bad and the ugly of farming.

Namaste

August 9, 2010 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Jenna,
I am new to your blog and absolutely LOVE it!!
Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
Blessings to you,
Cathy

August 9, 2010 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger E said...

We all make mistakes. It's hard tho when they cost someone their life. On a prefect farm we would never make that kind of mistake, or even hurt person or beast. Animals are a big responsibility as you've seen.

Being honest about your learning is great. But trying to excuse yourself by saying "I'm only a girl" is not great.

Lambs later in the year are a good idea. We have Icelandic sheep that only breed in November for April lambs. No snow by then, warmer but not a lot of flies. A good time for lambs and ewes. Our ram stays with the ewes and lambs all year. They do fine together but I imagine it depends on breed and personality.

August 9, 2010 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Got to do what is right for you and in your best interest.

August 9, 2010 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

E- when i say "i'm just a girl" I just mean I'm only human. Certainly it's not an excuse for my mistakes, but it is the reason I make them. It is not an apathetic shrug i give when animals die. It should not come across that way.

you are one of my toughest, longest, readers. I wish i had you next door to smack me around or help with the sheep, but please know everything I do or try has good intentions.

August 9, 2010 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Tora: said...

You know Jenna, this really is your life, and your life alone.Yes, you have generously opted to share it all with us and by god we're grateful, very, very grateful, but anyone who sends you angry emails should be banned from your site. You have given us a slice of life that some of us will never experience ( I'm 63 and my husband's 67, there is no way on this earth we are ever going to become freeholders and I'm fine with that) but you OWE US NOTHING. It's we that are beholden to you. Don't let the turkeys get you down

August 9, 2010 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Harpy 101 said...

Public life can be tough. My life in radio for 20 years was just abusive enough to make me end up hating it.

I explain it to my friends this way: 7 out of 10 times when you stick your head out the window you get a nice breeze. THREE times in 10 you get a face full of steaming feces.

Trolls must be silenced, because their poison creates nothing in the world; it is merely indiscriminate destructiveness.

AND, there are so many GOOD things to be said...and to read...like your blog...

August 9, 2010 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger RenĂ© said...

You know, Jenna, the thing I like about this blog is that you're notan "expert". Experts leave out details because they assume everyone should already know them. Experts won't tell you about how the screwed up even if it might help you to not make the same mistakes. I find it far more inspiring to know that you're more like me. You give me hope that I can take my lumps and survive past my mistakes. And yes, it is romantic because you are in love with your life! Some people have no faith in themselves so they feel like they have to drag everyone down to their level. Just shake 'em off!

August 9, 2010 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

People often forget about the reality - the person - behind every post while on the Internet. Heck, I lost a duck to a fox and my dog attepted homicide on several chickens. My poor wonderful goose that would eat grass from your hand died because she was eggbound and I didn't know the cause for months. I mistakenly let a pheasant chick be crushed to death by two ducklings since he was the only guy to hatch out and would be lonely without companions... I've picked the shells off of ducklings to get them to live (all if them have, thank you). I've injured my knee and my back and have countless scars from just a few years work on my little farm, which people still can't quite belive I take care of. All of the hardships and heartaches are well worth the good results of eggs that have been produced by chickens and ducks that get to see the sun and eat bugs and grass, fresh vegetables that have no pesticide residues, being able to feed friends and family with those same eggs and veggies, the occasional duck or chicken for the table, cute, fuzzy, and chubby little rabbit kits, and all the joy of owning animals and doing good work to better your life and those around you, and knowing that those animals had a life they deserve instead of the ones created by the "modern way" of farming and agriculture.

I only wish more people could understand the pain involved, not just the "Oh, a chicken croaked," that some may think we feel when one of the birds is stolen by the arch-nemesis. The fox.
Or that just because a chicken is meant for the table doesn't mean it won't receive the same kind of love, attention and care that the more long-term egg layers get.

Now I have to deal with a rat or something that ate an egg the silkie was sitting on...

August 9, 2010 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger Summer Swann said...

I raised sheep for a good period of time and we always had a whole herd of ewes that we kept together, and one ram that we always kept alone and seperate. He always seemed to be perfectly happy, in my opinion.

August 9, 2010 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Sharon Delman said...

Jenna, please keep posting--whether you're achieving perfection or not. We keep chickens and bees . . . and a couple of Labradors as well. We're not perfect. The garden does not grow without real struggle. Keep sharing your stories. Your heart is in the right place. Don't let the naysayers get you down.

August 9, 2010 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger Jenny Glen said...

Jenna, I come back to your blog again and again BECAUSE you make it romantic. I farm and need the shot in the arm once in a while to remind me that I DO love it. I bet it does make you feel awful when people criticize you tho. We lamb in January but we have a barn. I like lambing in the cold but I wouldn't do it without a barn. I also think you made a good decision about not leaving your ram alone. It does sound like you are going to need a second shelter tho so when you are done using him for breeding, you will have a place for him and the weathers.

August 10, 2010 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Unfortunately, folks expect perfection in our culture--everywhere you look in popular media, people and places are portrayed with the illusion of perfection. Anyone who can't see that a blog is an open journal, with all of the realities (good, bad and otherwise) that entails, should just stick to watching prime time TV.

My hubby and I moved out to the country three years ago. We put in a big garden last year and this year we got some bees (thanks to reading your book, which was one that popped up on my library search for beekeeping) and we also got chicks this spring. We hope to get some sheep in the next couple of years. We don't always know what we are doing. We read, do online research, talk to other farmers and try our hardest. But life comes at us. Mistakes are made. Mother nature takes her toll. That's life with all of it's imperfections and I wouldn't change a thing (except maybe order fewer mosquitos next year:-).

Keep blogging, Jenna--you are an inspiration to many.

August 10, 2010 at 12:30 AM  
Blogger Erika said...

If people are going to be rude to someone as honest as you, I might have to hip check them into a fence.

The kids from the farm I help at sometimes go searching for Bigfoot on Friday nights. Pretty rad.

August 10, 2010 at 1:11 AM  
Blogger Moose Nuggets said...

Oh Jenna!
I am sorry you get un-fan mail! But I was selfishly glad
to hear it because I got some unfriendly fire on my own
blog recently. Me! My piddly little blog that I mostly set up for family to keep track of us!

Do you retaliate? Do you answer the un-fans?
Do you ever tell them to go, well... You know...

For the record, even when I disagree with you or something makes me cringe in your story, I LOVE hearing about all the mistakes. It makes me feel like you are a human instead of a glorified Holy Author. It makes me feel not-as-dumb when I make my own mistakes (we still never speak of the first chicken I had to kill. Ever.)

Oh Jenna! I could hug you for admitting you hve un-fan mail! :)

And the ram? Advice I have not- other than to say that the ram in question as well as the breeder are not the last ram
and breeder you'll ever know. When the time
and buildings are right, you'll get what you want and need, wherever they come from.
If you just must have lambs this spring, what about renting a ram? We had a gorgeous buck goat that was in high demand. We've since sold him but, wow! Folks were lining up to let their does get a chance with him!
Even if the breeder sells the ram, find out if the new owner will stud him out. Then you get lambies without the expense of housing him.

August 10, 2010 at 1:21 AM  
Blogger Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Jenna, you are an inspiration to me (and countless others if what I read upthread is any indication) and those who think they have a right to berate you are entitled to your delete button.
Save what is right for you from these comments and send the rest out into the cyberspace to become part of the next black hole.
You are doing such amazing things for a woman alone.
Stay the course and keep the chin up--fall is on the way. Maple trees are already turning at 1000 feet here in Northern California.

August 10, 2010 at 1:28 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

It takes guts to stand up and admit that you are wrong about a decision. A shame that the breeder didn't mention the possible consequences of having him too early in the season.

You are still on a learning curve - mistakes get made - folk are always only too ready to criticize - ignore them. Hope that ram is still available when you are ready to take him.

August 10, 2010 at 3:16 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Dear Jenna,

I know nothing about sheep and very little about gardening. Still I visit your place already for some time. Why? Because you are in love with your life and you write about it with all your heart. For me that is the only reason to visit. There aren't many people who can write so eloquently about their everyday and state time after time the love they hold for their life. In that respect you are unique.
So keep on writing and I'll keep on reading no matter what.

August 10, 2010 at 3:48 AM  
Blogger Bullwinkle said...

I just wanted to drop you a note and help the positive encouragement side of things out-weigh the negative dorks. I find it highly responsible of you to demonstrate your choices - mistakes and all. Very educational that. That you care about the critters to make the best decisions for them is important to me. I'm rooting for you.

August 10, 2010 at 5:08 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Jenna. Thank you for sharing your life and not tidying it up for your readers. That would come across as dishonest, and you aren't.

I am 72 and read yur blog first thing daily for the sheer adventure of sharing your life.

You are not afraid to try things, to go for it, to make mistakes. You seem to know that if you wait until you are ready life will have passed you by. I am amazed at what you have learned in your short life!

I know the setbacks are painful, but you share them , too, and most of your readers understand and many who have been there can offer advice. Keep it up.

August 10, 2010 at 5:41 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

When people send something mean, i no longer respond. If they send something constructive: I do. But it usually is just me defending myself instead of tucking my tail under my legs so it comes across as harsh.

August 10, 2010 at 6:33 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

About rams, I'm not informed, so can't offer anything there.

About people...well...a lot of folks need to down others to make them feel better about themselves. It's entirely up to you whether you choose to absorb that negative energy. And you know what? At 28, I would have done a lot of absorbing and perhaps some believing. At 42, I've got more wisdom to understand that we're all just people trying to make our own way in the world.

You do a brave thing on this blog, putting your world out there for others to read. And you are new to this, every farmer at one time was new to this, and made their own mistakes, they just didn't have the bravery (or perhaps opportunity since this blogging thing is pretty new too)to throw it into the universe in such a huge way.

The majority of people want to help you and see you succeed. But, there are always those that will do what they can to infect your efforts and drag you down. I think those people are part of being human too. And, they provide you a great opportunity to reject their message. One other thing life has taught me is that you are your own best compass. It's a learning process, but let them bounce off you. They are only human too, after all. As I tell my children almost every day of their lives, "Kindness Matters", and you've got that in spades.

Hugs to you, ~Vonnie, NH

August 10, 2010 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Jenna -- I don't know jack about sheep, so this could be the dumbest question ever, but won't there be other times when you'll have to keep the ram away from the ewes? Or maybe a ewe away from the ram? Lambing in February is something you'll have to avoid every year, yes?

August 10, 2010 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

tamar: I would have to divide them, but by that point I'll have a few wethers and a flock of ewes, no one would have to be alone and everyone would have their own shelter.

August 10, 2010 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

You're so brave to put yourself out there like this, warts and all. People who criticize need to focus on their own lives, because they've obviously got too much time on their hands or they think their excrement doesn't stink. Weiners. You're so smart and caring to be handling your sheep/ram in this way, and those of us who hope to learn in part through your experiences thank you so much for your frequent posts. I feel honored to be along for the ride. Hugs!

August 10, 2010 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I just don't get the phenomenon that is occurring on all of the homesteading blogs I read--all of you are getting harassed in one way or another. It may be the nature of blogs in general. But man, it's just not cool.

August 10, 2010 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I think in general, homesteaders are a very independent sort of person. Most of us have strong personalities, aren't scared of livestock, and either aspire to or currently work at what we do with great fervor. It is easy to get defensive when they perceive someone else as undeserving, irresponsible, or threatening to their own plans or decisions. So there's a lot of lashing out.

Plus, you can say whatever you want online with a made up ID. So like some have said here, they would never bring these judgments up in person, just online.

I promise I will never post about another blogger, or complain in their comments. Mostly because I barely make enough time to write my own books and blogs! I just don't have time to look for trouble...

August 10, 2010 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Shirley said...

Jenna, we love reading cold antler and Made From Scratch because you are not a professional, you are one of us. That gives us hope that we can homestead too. We learn from your mistakes as you do. It also makes us aware that making mistakes is no excuse for giving up. I think that the first mistake almost all new homesteaders learn is to not do everything right away (buildings, animals, gardens, fencing....)I hope that people with "barn heart" will see how hard the consequences will be when they get their little piece of land and want to do everything at once. They will know to take things a little more slowly because of what they have learned from reading your blog. It is a BIG lesson.

I read that blog of the person who lives near you, I think she is jealous.

August 10, 2010 at 10:28 AM  
OpenID hollyheartfree said...

I've raised sheep for nearly 20 years. You did the right thing. Herd animals do well in groups. It would have been unfair to the ram, and potentially dangerous to boot, to have penned him alone. As to worry about what others say, others are not walking in your shoes, are they? Only you can make your own decisions. You are doing a fine job. I've read your book, and follow your blog and have enjoyed every bit of it. making mistakes is part of the journey. Blogging about it helps others deal with things and often just makes your own decisions more clear to you. Keep on being real.

August 10, 2010 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Maybe this has already been covered (there a lot of comments here that I haven't read), but why couldn't you let Finn live with the ram? I can't think of any reason why they couldn't keep each other company. For an animal to live with their own kind is always preferable, but when push comes to shove, they aren't that picky. And for what it's worh, we keep ours separated by gender all the time, and take the girls on "dates". We want to know exactly when they're going to drop (or at least as "exactly" as we can get).

August 10, 2010 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I only have one shelter...

August 10, 2010 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Okay: so here is my plan:

the expanded pasture and pole barn will be for the breeding flock. The smaller pasture and shed would be for the goat/ram/sal/Joseph.

I just don't want to buy or build a shelter for 6 weeks, and i don't want to separate an animal without a lean-to at the very least.


I'll have a bigger barn, more fencing, and such by the late november date of ewes.. right now i'm not ready to split the flock.

August 10, 2010 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Oh, and - we lost our very first kid because (a) it was January and (b) we were off a bit on our estimation of the delivery (by about 12 hours). The off-timing was forgivable, I think, since it was our first time, and we did get pretty darn close, but it taught me that I don't ever want another January kidding. We've just established a "no kidding before March 1st" policy. Finding a cold, dead baby breaks your heart.

August 10, 2010 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Ahh - I missed the part about the lack of shelter!

August 10, 2010 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

This isn't meant to be a solution to your shelter problem since you need something more permanent, but I thought I'd mention it. We built two quick-and-dirty, mobile shelters for our goats. They're essentially really tall sawhorses that we covered over with sheets of corrugated tin. They look like "pup tents". They're small structures and may not be sufficient for your northern winters, but we've gotten a surprising amount of use out them. They're easily picked up and moved, and they provide shelter in a pinch from hot sun, rain and cold wherever we need it. The dog likes it too.

Even if you build a barn for them, it's nice to have something like this around for a little flexibilty, and it went together in, oh, about an hour, I think. When we kid again next spring, I expect they will become instant kid hideouts. :)

August 10, 2010 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

tara that is awesome, do you have pictures?

August 10, 2010 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

I'd never leave a sheep all by its lonesome. If that's the only choice you did the right thing.

But I thought you had two wethers. So couldn't you have split them up two and two...?

August 10, 2010 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Oops, never mind. I see your response above.

You did the right thing. Don't worry about it. I've had to back out of animal sales, too, when things turned out different than I thought. I'm sure the seller, while disappointed, is used to it. It's happened to me on the selling end, too.

Hope you get a nice ram in the end. I'm having a devil of a time finding one. Not so many shepherds out west here.

August 10, 2010 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

So sorry to read that you are receiving emails of anger for being honest and human.

August 10, 2010 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger I'm Stacey... said...

I don't know anything about raising animals, but I love your blog, and I really appreciate it that you tell you readers when you make mistakes. I'm sorry people send you mean emails. I doubt any of them have the courage to place their lives on a blog and to share their mistakes and triumphs with the world.

August 10, 2010 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Indeed Shetlands ARE the rage. Or at least I'd like to think so! If only we were a bit closer so you could come and see them. They make for a great single-person sheep in that one person can wrangle their small sheep bodies as well as the seasonal breeding. Also the fleece they produce is hands down spectacular. It's taken me the better part of this year to accept that one fact. In reality you aren't too far away, anywhere in the northeast US is what I consider in my range. And it just so happens that a fellow Shetland breeder is getting out of them and is selling her whole flock. I can't buy them cause bringing ewes over the border into Canada is impossible, I could bring a ram if I figure out the regulations in time. But that's just one of many. All in all though Shetlands are an awesome breed, and will be the breed I recommend for first time shepherds.

August 10, 2010 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger crowjoy said...

Oh, people. They will always jump in with the coulda shoulda wouldas. You know what's best in your world and you're right: lambs in February is a bad idea unless you're ready for them. More than anything, there is a pragmatism to homesteading you can't really develop unless you're doing it. It's all good in theory. In practice? Pragmatic wins.

Don't let the turkeys get you down!

August 10, 2010 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Mobile shelter pics = no problem. Will be tomorrow, though, since I'm at the office today.

August 10, 2010 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

i'm really surprised the breeder was so prickly about having to delay getting the ram. when we got our goats, i had to delay for 6 weeks because our shelter wasn't set up by our arranged time. we had major landscaping to do and it just couldn't be helped. the breeder was totally fine with it. she just wanted me to pay a deposit.

i'm wondering if you could offer to pay for the rams feed for 6 weeks. when we have our goats bred (we live in a city so we can't have a buck), I send both of our goats to the breeder's farm for 6 weeks even though i'm only having one goat bred. i don't want the other goat to be left alone for that long and the breeder just charges me $15 for 6 weeks of feed. maybe your sheep breeder would go for that.

August 10, 2010 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger mary said...

Oh Jenna, I can't believe that people would leave negative comments. I found your blog first and then picked up your book. I love your honesty; hopefully it will help me when I finally get my bees. I cried when you had to put down your rabbit, but that is nature and life. You took responsibility. Yes, I will make mistakes but at least I will try not to make the same mistakes as you. Don't let them get you down.

August 10, 2010 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

You definitely made the right decision to put the ram on hold right now. Sheep are miserable when they're alone.

And, I HATE when farmers get mad when people talk about enjoying homestead or farm work. They act like all farming is hard and miserable work. Well, it is tough at times, but I LOVE doing what I do. Why would we do it if we didn't love it? And if they hate it so much, or think it's so awful, they can stop doing it and move to the city, right? I mean, why keep doing what makes you miserable?

August 11, 2010 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

HA!!!! Jenna- anyone who takes offense or thinks you are wretched for having had your dogs eat your birds DOES NOT KNOW HUSKIES. and therefore does not know what they are talking about. My friend got chicks this spring and her husky ate them the first night. She got a new bunch of them, and raised them to pullets. A few weeks ago, her husky (bless his canine carnivorous soul) escaped his line, dug and strong shouldered his way into their attempted-husky(and owl)-proof little yard. She went back outside a few minutes later and found 1 (of 4) bird dead in the yard and no sign but a smiling dog of the other 3. no feathers, no blood, no mess.

August 11, 2010 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Judy Hamilton said...

Good, solid honesty is hard to come by nowadays...and true humility is something to be admired, not attacked. I think you rock.

August 11, 2010 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

Jenna - I only have a small flock so I decided like you not to have my own ram (and all that comes with it!). But I can rent in a ram for a nominal fee from the local farmer.

At the moment I'm building up my breeding stock so I rent a purebred ram. Renting frees me up to change the ram yearly, and means I can keep genetically diverse lines within the same breed.

And if a ram fails or doesn't produce a quality lamb, I've only lost a year's crop, not the cost of a breeding ram plus the hassle of finding a new ram and starting again with fingers crossed.

It also means that, if I want to produce a crop of purely meat lambs all for the market, I can put a meat ram on my ewes just for a season. It never changes my purebred stock but it gives me options when market prices are good.

I don't know what movement restrictions you have in NY but you could check with the breeder where you bought your flock, see if they're amenable to a loaner ram, and what restrictions they might require (quarantine period or limit of ewes to be served, that kind of thing.) and what paperwork.

It is possible to AI sheep but cost usually outweighs benefits, unless you're a big commercial concern or rebuilding rare breed stock. AI'ing is difficult enough to require vet help. Your vet could advise you.

I'm not telling you what to do, only what I've learned as a small flock owner (and I'm no expert). Good luck with your new sheep.

August 12, 2010 at 4:55 AM  
Blogger Mud Mama said...

It totally depends on the individual sheep's personality. I know a ram who is fine with being in his own paddock as long as he can see the girls and has company from a companion animal in his pen. He's generally affectionate and pushy. I also know a ram who gets aggressive and nasty when he's left alone and will break out of anything - including solid fencing lined with electric to get to the girls.

Trust the breeder to know him and keep your finers crossed he's still available.

August 12, 2010 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

It has bothered me before to see bossy, know-it-all kind of folks posting on this blog. They jump on every so-called "mistake" you make! This blog presents them with a unique opportunity to practice "kick her while she's down and build myself up" because you are so honest. Their criticism and oppressive advice would get me down. But sooooo many of us need and love this blog, hopefully that balances it out.

August 12, 2010 at 5:35 PM  
Blogger Sherry and Russ Sutherby said...

Jenna ~ I would listen to David Shearer and "rent" a ram. Rams can be very dangerous. They can appear very docile throughout the year, but during breeding season, don't turn your back. We trust our bull more than the rams we have had on site. Something to consider... Plus, you won't be limited to one line of breeding as your herd grows.

August 21, 2010 at 12:06 AM  

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