Saturday, February 11, 2012


Lisette is gone, I am sad to report. I found her away from the flock, on her side, unable to move. She was barely breathing, rail thin, and seemed to be either in great pain, or so weak she couldn't even stand. I got my rifle. I thanked her. I told her I was sorry about both her and her lamb. And now they are at rest in the same compost pile, returning to the earth they came from.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Jenna.

You are so much more courageous than I.

February 11, 2012 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

So sorry for your loss, Jenna. Rest in peace, Lisette.

February 11, 2012 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

Sorry, Jenna. I know that wasn't easy. God Bless.

February 11, 2012 at 7:19 AM  
Blogger daisy g said...

I'm so sorry for you. Peace be yours...

February 11, 2012 at 7:51 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I'm sorry Jenna. That is never an easy job and it never gets any easier. Sorry for your loss.

February 11, 2012 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Cat Eye Cottage said...

Oh, that is so sad. That must be a terrible experience to put an animal down, but she is better now, no more suffering.

February 11, 2012 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

What a way to start a Saturday. I`m sorry Jenna. This has been a heck of a couple weeks at CAF :(

February 11, 2012 at 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry Jenna. Prayers for better today.

February 11, 2012 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger sash said...

Peace and blessings.

February 11, 2012 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So sorry for your loss. Keep your chin up and looking forward.

February 11, 2012 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So sorry for your loss. Keep your chin up and looking forward.

February 11, 2012 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I commend you for being able to handle the reality of which so many of us have lost. This is life, and you are living it.

February 11, 2012 at 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all the goodness a farm brings sometimes farm realities really bite...

February 11, 2012 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Mim said...

You are a good homesteader...through good and bad times, you show good character and that is needed in order to care properly for a farm.
Praying today brings you a lighter load.

February 11, 2012 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Sorry, Jenna :( May peace be with yours and all the spirits at CAF.

February 11, 2012 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Christee said...

So sorry for your loss this morning. All their suffering is over now and they will rest.
Take good care

February 11, 2012 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

Do you shear or butcher them before composting? Is there anything useful or creative you could do with their horns?

February 11, 2012 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Sorry, Jenna. It's hard.

February 11, 2012 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Your indomitable spirit will carry you through. Your blog is my first read every morning. I told Connie (Battenkill Books) that as I laughed and cried my way through Barnheart, you are not only a terrific writer, you make the world of CAF, a place the world wants to visit. Here on my little farm outside Indianola WA, I will now think of you when I see the moon.

February 11, 2012 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Sorry about that Jenna. You just strengthened your herd though, didn't you? You're a farmer, alright.

February 11, 2012 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

Sorry, Jenna, for your loss and the farm's. You really did all you could for both Lisette and Pidge.

February 11, 2012 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger kippy said...

That must have been so hard to do, but you did the right thing.
Do sheep wander off to die like some cats do?

February 11, 2012 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So sorry Jenna but that is part of farming and I love the way you handle these situations

February 11, 2012 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

Not easy to do, I know, but you did do the right thing for her.

February 11, 2012 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Misty said...

I have battled with myself for years when it comes to putting one of my animals "out of its' misery". There have been the stray rabbits that were half skinned by cats, and miscellaneous little wild things that I've dealt the death blow to for various reasons. But when it's an animal that I have fed and taken care of for any length of time, then it's a little harder on me, but much, much easier on them. Acts of mercy are worth it in the end. I wish no living creature to suffer, ever.

And to answer someone's question: Yes, most animals do go off to their own little corner when they feel the end is near. Even if it's just to get away from the others so they're not "bothered".

February 11, 2012 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Sorry about that Jenna, but you said she was rail thin- how are the others? Have you had your hay nutrient tested? Even if the hay looks/smells great, it may not have a high enough protein level to sustain the sheep at good levels. That may be another reason the would not conceive.

February 11, 2012 at 2:53 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I gotta agree with Kelpie and Collie. Losing 4 animals (I'm including the pigs) would set off my radar. Any common threads for these animals?

February 11, 2012 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger John Taylor said...

Farm life is to an easy life. While loss is something you expect it is never easy.

Grace and Peace,


February 11, 2012 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger John Taylor said...

Farm life is to an easy life. While loss is something you expect it is never easy.

Grace and Peace,


February 11, 2012 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger karental said...


February 11, 2012 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger karental said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 11, 2012 at 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sad, but so nice that she was treated with honor, respect, and had a decent end to her life. There are many worse things.


February 11, 2012 at 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sad, but so nice that she was treated with honor, respect, and had a decent end to her life. There are many worse things.


February 11, 2012 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I had one yellow livered pig, I don't know which one for certain. Both were a healthy weight for their age at slaughter and not thin or sickly.

Pidge and Lisette have both been thin since Lisette first got ketosis last winter. She never bounced back from it. Pidge never thrived.

Everyone else is fine.

February 11, 2012 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

I recall a post where you mentioned you fed the pigs, but they could have eaten more. Are all your animals worm free and eating enough?

Often pasture rotation is used to help break the parasite cycle. Is this something you could do? You have 6 acres right? The carrying capacity of your current field with the amount of sheep on it might negate any deworming you are doing.

February 11, 2012 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Also, three of the four animals were intentionally killed by me. They didn't die of disease, only Lisette was on the ground dying and that was a long-time coming. The pigs were slaughtered for food, their purpose all along, and I chose to end Pidge's life as a cull. Something I should have done months ago but kept putting it off, hoping the various vets, medications, and other treatments would help her out. They didn't.

It is hard putting your entire farm online, harder still to deal with the advice and questions that assume I am constantly doing things wrong. Imagine if some photos and a few paragraphs a day were what people judged your farm on? You're either nervous about what to post, or defensive about it.

You guys have to trust me. For one yellow pig liver and two sick sheep there were 14 other healthy sheep, a thriving pony, a haybale barn full of happy meat birds, a flock of free-ranging laying hens, four (now fourteen!) healthy rabbits, three happy dogs, two fine cats, and a farmer on a diet. Most things are going well.

I don't post "This Just In! Sal is meaty and happy and smiling in the pasture!" because, I hope, you all assume no news is good news. Or, I could never share the messy, awful, or sick parts of this farm and you would wrongly think this place runs like a song.

February 11, 2012 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

And by the same token, you do share, and this is a comment section. The reason I brought up the hay is because I have been told by other shepherds to make sure that the hay I feed has the appropriate digestible protein, etc., or I will see it in their condition. It was not to criticise what you have/have not done. Of course, we all lose animals, it is inevitable, but learning through other's experiences may save some heartbreak on the receiver's end. That's all. No farm "runs like a song", but all farmers should be open to suggestions that might make things go better- within reason :) That's why I suggested the hay testing. That's the only reason.

February 11, 2012 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I know Julie, It's not you. I'm just frustrated this week. The sheep have hay, grain, minerals, clean water and the pasture is expanding and being split into rotational sections come hell or high water.

February 11, 2012 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Hello Jenna,
Sorry to hear your news.

February 11, 2012 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

I'm sorry Jenna. Peace and love.

February 11, 2012 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Mrs. N said...

Sorry Jenna, not a good day,especially with weather like this. I think losses are easier to take when the earth is covered in green life. Just picture all the good green things that will come from the good soil your creatures become. Hope this helps. -Jess

February 11, 2012 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Please know my question re the animals came from a place of support, not judgment or criticism.

I truly want CAF to thrive as it is a symbol of hope and education for me. I know you love and care for your charges.

So sorry if I offended you...that was never my intention.


February 11, 2012 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Please know my question re the animals came from a place of support, not judgment or criticism.

I truly want CAF to thrive as it is a symbol of hope and education for me. I know you love and care for your charges.

So sorry if I offended you...that was never my intention.


February 11, 2012 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

It's no one, JD. I'm just having a bad week. In a rough patch, both in the farm and in my head. Take my comments with a grain of salt.

February 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

I'm sorry to report my comments do stem from a critical place. If she was skinny as a rail and her demise was a long time coming I can't imagine why you would let her condition drop to where she was immobile and in pain with labored breathing on a cold ny February night before ending her life.

I also have a hard time understanding why you wouldn't shear, skin, or butcher these sheep before burying them in the compost, or at least have offered them to another who might be interested. It seems like quite a waste for having a homesteading attitude.

I know you and many others probably don't appreciate, agree, or support my comments but like another said its your decision to post and our decision to comment. Nothing I've said has ever been vile or vulgar (and is attached to a direct email on my 'blog')..just met with general disapproval.

I hope with time and experience your tough weeks become less and less frequent...and I sincerely mean that.

February 11, 2012 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger Cosgray Gardens said...

I am sorry for your loss.

February 11, 2012 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Most of the comments the readers here take offense to are comments by people who have experience with livestock, and perhaps already learned the hard way, and are just trying to offer some advice. If they didn't care about you being successful I don't think they'd post.

I, too, wondered why you didn't skin the 2 sheep to at least be able to sell their hides. You can make a good profit on them, and when you're working to get your animals to support you, every bit helps. I can give you the name of the place that tanned my last lamb's hide if you're interested for the future.

February 11, 2012 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I didn't have the time or resources to do so. The hides were not good quality, nor the meat.

February 11, 2012 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Meredith, I want you to go to your blog and count up all the comments I have made questioning your animals welfare. Count up all the comments I made about your reasoning and words. Tally up all the times I went out of my way to criticize another new farmer working to make a difference in the industrial food model?

When you have your number, think about it.

February 11, 2012 at 7:10 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

You wrote you don't read other blogs, based on that knowledge I'm not sure what your question is attempting to prove.

Are requesting no comments be made which challenge or question your land management practices or animal husbandry? If so ill gladly keep to myself.

February 11, 2012 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

If you didn't have the time or resources, perhaps you shouldn't be farming as much as you are. The animals are the ones paying the price with ended and wasted lives.

February 11, 2012 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...


February 11, 2012 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

To Meredith A:

I'm certain your comments are well-intentioned and meant to be constructive. Having said that, I believe Jenna's justifiably raw right now after a terrible, terrible week.

We don't know what other issues she might be dealing with, so perhaps you would be so kind as to let her regroup.

I realize Jenna's a big girl and can speak for herself, but I sense she's had enough.

Thank you for understanding. No meanness intented, just a request.

February 11, 2012 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Hard to believe Lisette suddenly was at deaths door. What you did is what any farmer does and it isn't newsworthy.
I think Meredith and Chris have very valid points. IMHO you are having a lot of unusually bad luck as there is way too much drama at CAF. Something just isn't right. You do not have to blog daily and you do not have to have something catchy to report. Just go along without all the drama.
Perhaps you are just planning too many events at CAF when your energies need to go elsewhere.

February 11, 2012 at 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking care of her with dignity and love!

February 11, 2012 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

That sucks, been there. It sucks

February 11, 2012 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger Stacia said...

Chris, with all due respect, very few new farmers, and probably quite few seasoned ones, have the experience to skin an animal in such a way that the hide is viable for sale. That is certainly a more experienced aspect of farming. I know some very experienced bison ranchers who absolutely must have outside help to skin their animals--but knowing who to contact and how to pay for such a job takes time to find and develop those relationships. Seemed like an unnecessarily mean comment to me.

I second a previous comment--Jenna has had an extremely hard week and even if the last few criticizing comments were coming from a place of constructive criticism rather than judgment (which it appears they were not), at least give her some time to process this experience. Obviously it has been a heartbreaking week for her, and any devoted reader of the blog knows that Jenna does her best to always learn from every single experience she has with her farm and her animals.

It sometimes astounds me that instead of meeting others with compassion, we confront with judgment simply because we can do so from behind an anonymous computer screen.

Jenna, sending you hugs from across the country. Hang in there girl. There will be better days.

February 11, 2012 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Northwest Girl said...

Jenna - your world has been tough for a while here. Time to breathe, rest, and regroup. As a therapist, I recommend some serious self-care. Spend minimal time doing what needs to be done and maximum time doing something you love. Re-energize and things will come together for you again. All is not lost, just rough.

February 11, 2012 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Northwest Girl said...

Jenna - your world has been tough for a while here. Time to breathe, rest, and regroup. As a therapist, I recommend some serious self-care. Spend minimal time doing what needs to be done and maximum time doing something you love. Re-energize and things will come together for you again. All is not lost, just rough.

February 11, 2012 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Em said...

Lots of people in glass houses casting stones here in the comments. Particularly the person giving YOU crap when she posts pictures on her blog of herself smoking cigarettes around her animals. I know it's generally not polite to mine posts, so to speak, but that one really galls me.

It's a shame--I see this kind of thing as a big problem in sustainable agriculture, this strange holier-than-thou competition and backbiting. It's not enough that folks try to do the right thing (and in your case, also put it out there so maybe others can learn from those experience), there's always someone on the internet who feels the need to assert that they are purer and smarter and more successful. I'm sure they never make any mistakes. Their farms must be really wonderful, magical places where sheep farts are made of rainbows.

The truth is that caring for animals is an extraordinarily difficult undertaking and it has been that way for literally thousands of years. Even the most knowledgeable and experienced shepherds lose sheep. It's funny that these ones who style themselves the kings and queens of animal husbandry don't have enough regard for their fellow human beings to treat them with the same kindnesses they claim to show their animals.

We raise sheep, among other animals, and have for enough years now that we have seen almost all of the horrible things--illnesses, predator attacks from dogs to bobcats, parasites, stillbirths, rejected lambs, prolapsed uterii, broken limbs, and plain old failure to thrive--that can beset a flock. Sometimes these things happen because management was lacking, but often they will happen for no good reason at all. Bad luck, bad genetics. Wrong place, wrong time. Shit happens.

My personal take on your situation, Jenna, is that you did everything you could for Pidge and Lisette and in the end you made the right decision, and you made it out of a deep love and respect for your animals. You hold out for as long as you can, you try to take advantage of the avenues for treatment that are available, and sometimes the sheep will turn it around. Other times, they won't.

I don't know what kind of resources are available in your area, but down here in South Carolina we're able to get pretty inexpensive (in the $25-50 range, I believe) necropsies done through Clemson University, the local land-grant college. If we have sheep that have to be euthanized due to declining heath, or if any die suddenly, we usually send them off. These days we keep a closed flock, so we have the necropsies done to monitor for Johne's, OPP, and other contagions that could spell serious disaster. As a matter of fact, we had a dead ewe turn up out of the blue the other day and since we're part of the scrapie program here, we called the local USDA reps to come out and take the head to test for that too. Necropsies can also provide peace of mind--we have had sheep die of pure and simple old age, and the necropsies reflected that while assuring us that it wasn't due to some more serious issue. On a budget as tight as yours, necropsies may be out of reach, but maybe in the future they could be a useful tool in your shepherd's toolkit, if you will.

I hope that your heart will find peace and that the love and support here overwhelms the hatefulness offered by a few. Warmth and light for you in this dark night.

February 11, 2012 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

As someone who showed up right after Lisette had been dispatched I feel I should add to this conversation, because it angers me to see people taking a critical tone over something they are observing through a tiny, crud-caked window.

When I arrived it was dark, Jenna was there by herself after just getting off of work and she was had been expecting me any minute. She didn't feel the meat or the hides were salvageable. It was impossible to see and Jenna used her best judgement. That should be enough. It IS enough. I'm sure any farmer could walk into your homes and point out ways that you are wasting something of value, but that would be impolite. It's impolite.

The condition of the rest of the animals on her farm I would say is quite fine. All of them were bright eyed, alert and full-bodied. All beasts I'd be proud to have on my farm. I was and am surprised and impressed by the amount of work Jenna accomplishes on a daily basis. Should she trim some less necessary day-to-day activity so that she can focus more on some other priority? Maybe...but that's up for her to decide. I can tell you one thing though, none of her animals are any worse for the wear because of Jenna's schedule. That is a fact.

Am I way off base, or is this not how things work? You raise some animals. You provide them with clean food, water, shelter and care. Most thrive but a few do not. When they do not, you let them go in whatever manner seems the most humane. You do the best you can, but every now and again, you lose a few. There is no correlation between any of the recent deaths on the farm so why is anyone criticizing? I'm having a hard time making sense of it.

The way I see it is Jenna has just hit a slightly bumpy patch it the road. Wagging fingers at her isn't going to help matters one bit so why do it?

Ease up a little.

February 11, 2012 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

I'm the first to admit I know little about farming (despite farm families in my blood). However, it seems to me that Jenna did all she could for Pidge and Lisette over a long period and in the end, they just failed to thrive. Them's the odds and I don't think Jenna's husbandry in any way negatively affected the odds.

Those of you who felt the need to offer "constructive criticism" at this time when Jenna is clearly frustrated and sad at the rough time the farm is having? You can go pound sand.

February 11, 2012 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger SHJeffers said...

Meredith is a troll, I hope you can just ignore her.

I have an old frail sheep that I will most likely have to put down soon. I plan to let her plop down for the last time on the same grass she has been eating all year.

You done it right, kid.

February 12, 2012 at 12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Normally I don't feel compelled to comment, as no one twists my arm to read your blog..but wanted to say:

Illegitimi non carborundum,Jenna!

And to the vitriolic naysayers, Judge not lest ye be judged.


February 12, 2012 at 1:31 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

I've been reading for quite some time about your adventures up there in NY. Gotta tell ya, gal, you got spunk. Admirable quality.

Any way you can add a 'scratch-n-sniff' thing on the sidebar so we can smell your fresh pies?

Congrats on the new book deal.

Now grab that fiddle and serenade your critters.

February 12, 2012 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

Sorry to hear, Jenna.

February 12, 2012 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Jenna, I love your blog and sometimes I just cant believe the comments made by people. I guess that's the downside of being out there and the rock star that you are. I see you handle things with grace and wit! only real farmers and folks that are trying to farm while having a full time job will understand the practicality of the situation. I mean really, I'm on the farm full time and I can see myself doing exactly the same thing. We try to catch things but sometimes we don't. And often especially with sheep they cant be saved. Your post today sums it up beautifully, I wish I could write so eloquently about these things.

February 12, 2012 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Patty said...

Jenna, keep your blog as is; that is the beauty of it. Yes, you are going to share the disappointments and the personal trials, but you also share your triumphs and your hard-earned knowledge. One of the risks of making your lifestyle public is encountering less than favorable comments, and perhaps a lot of judgement. But, you are doing a huge favor for those of us who want to do what you're doing, even on a small scale. I read your blog daily, have your books, and wish I could attend your meat workshops. You have given me the courage to even raise hens from chicks, and to care for the layers I already have without much fear and too much sentiment. Share the bad if you want, because you have a fan in the South.
Patty from Texas

February 12, 2012 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

Jenna, I am catching up on the past two days of blogs. I'm sorry to read that so many bad things have happened at CAF. You are handling them in the best way possible Take time to reflect and regroup as I read you are doing. Life gets hard that's for sure. I've had a bad week myself and a sad week. Sometimes plans just do not work out. I'm sending you good vibrations and peaceful thoughts.

February 12, 2012 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

Jenna, you and your blog are awesome. I am amazed by your strength not only to keep your comment section open, but to read and respond to the comments. The "criticizers" are always lurking (and I don't mean the people with thoughtful advice). I wish they would go away. Thank you for sharing the details of your life with us! What a hard past couple weeks for you...take care

February 13, 2012 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger jules said...

I am sorry Jenna. I know both of their deaths broke your heart.

February 13, 2012 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Big Sky Chicken Ranch and Victory Garden said...

Just adding some love and support to the pile....

February 13, 2012 at 5:31 PM  

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