This summer, I ended up bringing in ewes from four different farms, all in a week’s span. Interestingly, the out-of-towners all got some kind of “big head” or facial eczema reaction. They are fine, but here’s what I think happened.

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Canfield Farms

Somewhere in the middle of lambing last spring, I mentioned a funny story about a small crew of Edmonds Community College students and staff who came out here to do a video. They are working on a grant-funded project to educate consumers about local farms and local produce; and these videos are destined to be part of materials used by Food Revolution Snohomish County.

The day they came was a crazy day where, just as they started filming, I had to do a rather major birth extraction, there was a dead lamb (boo) but two more live lambs (yay), and I was a mess and had to change my clothes just to complete the interview. Though the camera was rolling during the entire lambing assist, they chose to exclude the more gross parts and just show some clips of the cute newborns trying to stand.

It took them the rest of the summer to finish producing their videos, and now, here they are. Above is the video they did of our farm, and below are links to the other videos they produced. I think they all turned out really great!

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imageA few notes from a meeting I attended in early August, on the newly-forming farmers’ cooperative, North Cascade Meats (also on Facebook here). We have very limited options for USDA slaughter in our area, which makes it nearly impossible to sell meat by the cut to consumers and restaurants. This group intends to change that, by creating a cooperatively-owned USDA slaughter option.

Currently, I only sell lamb on the hoof, to either customers who have it processed by a local custom-exempt butcher, or to customers who can do their own processing. This works for me right now, as I don’t produce that many butcher lambs, and they all sell out. But looking ahead, I am interested in other channels in which to sell lamb, as I increase the size of my herd. And, it would be nice to be able to give out, or sell, samples to people considering buying my lamb. Thus, I have been watching this group with interest for quite some time.

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Here it is, late August, our hottest and driest part of the year, and our grass is still soaking wet each morning from dew. That is the blessing of living so near a river, where the cool fog rolls in every night and drenches the landscape. This morning I moved some fencing, and my sweat pants were sopping wet up to my hips by the time I was done.

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Weekend before last, I attended the Katahdin registry’s annual “Expo”- this one held in Hastings, NE. I enjoyed it, and when I catch my breath, I’ll try to post some notes I took in the great seminars there.

The highlight for me, however, was getting a chance to bid on some breeding stock with high NSIP numbers at their sale. There aren’t many people local to me who are serious about using NSIP for selection, so I don’t have a lot of access to high-scoring animals or common sires which help cross-reference and normalize data between flocks. Through the kindness of friends, I was able to “hitch hike” my sheep back through two legs: to a friend’s house in Montana, and then a fellow Washingtonian traveling there to pick up a ram took my sheep back home with him.

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Wrote on the plane Thursday, but didn’t end up connecting to the Innerwebs until Sunday night late…

Holy crap, it has been a busy few weeks, and poor blogging has fallen to the bottom of the priority list. In the last few weeks, I:

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This summer has been busy, rotating two groups of sheep through grass, taking advantage of the long daylight hours to get things repaired and improved, and taking a few breaks to go camping.

Sheep have been selling like hotcakes. I’ve had buyers clamoring to make deposits on seed stock before I could even get all my “for sale” decisions made and posted on my website. I just started “officially” advertising on craigslist last week, but already, half my sheep are sold! Butcher lambs are in the same boat: I anticipate them all being sold by the end of the summer.

I always get a range of buyers with different goals, which makes it great for selling sheep, as there is something for everyone. Some buyers have money to spend, and want top-dollar sheep, the cream of the crop. Other people just want to breed a few ewes to have lamb for themselves and a couple to sell, and they often ask for “the cheapest” ones. I also have quite a few pet buyers, who never intend to breed their sheep, and are happy with the “runt of the litter” types of lambs- bottle lambs, slow growers, etc. Everything else lands on the butcher lamb list.

I’m going to try to bump up to sixty ewes this winter, to try to produce more to meet the demand. I’ve been checking around with the few people left in our region who are in the SFCP, from whom I can buy. I tell ya, some breeders make it hard to buy from. Belated callbacks and/or email responses, disorganized records, or inability to send records and photos, makes it hard to be able to choose sheep, or rely on an arrangement to buy them. I’m not a big fan of just arriving to pick from a pen full of sheep; but it’s hard to find anyone who can just provide all the important data up-front to make selection easy!

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