Ram-a-Lamb-a-Ding-Dong

Now that I decided to keep the two sheep; it is time to breed them.

Ivan is about 20# of pure cuteness!

I called up the lady who has rams (daddy sheep) and asked for a date for my two girls; Mary (the momma) and Bo-peep the daughter.

The lady told me that her prices have doubled since last year. She said that it would now cost me $300.00 to breed my two girls. She also wanted me to provide the food for them while they stay at her house for at least 30 days. The 30 days stay usually turns into 60 days in order to verify pregnancy with an ultrasound.

Yes, you read that right. I have a friend who owns an ultrasound. Not only can she verify pregnancy, but she can sometimes even verify gender.

I could have a pregnancy verification party!. Can you just see it? All my pregnant friends and their pregnant pets can come over to have ultrasounds. We could also crank up the Karaoke machine to sing lullabies to all babies (great and small), while the expectant fathers keep the fire pit going. Sounds like fun to me.

Ok back to sheeping. There is something else that you must do when you breed outside your own herd. You must take a blood test from each participant and send the blood to a lab to check for s-x-u-l-y transmitted diseases. I understand why the owner of the ram would expect that, but that adds a lot more money to the final cost of a lambing operation.

So instead of running to my bank to take out a loan, I went to Dr Google. I know that with some animals, there is a phenomena referred to as hybrid vigor. That is when you breed     a purebred animal of one variety to a purebred animal of a different variety-of the same type of animal.  The result is a half breed that grows to adult weight sooner than the purebred of either variety.

I have known this information since I was 12 and breeding meat rabbits. For instance; a California meat rabbit reaches harvest weight at 12 weeks, but when bred to a New Zealand White; the offspring will reach harvest weight at 10 weeks. This saves 2 weeks worth of time and food during a time when the rabbit eats the most food.

Back to sheeping again.  My research told me that one of the breeds that will create hybrid vigor( when bred to my Katadin girls); is a Dorper. So I called around and asked for a reputable source of Dorpers. All calls pointed to Mrs R. I called her, and had a lovely discussion with her.  She keeps a closed herd, which means that she does not breed outside of her flock. She makes her money by selling babies. Her babies have no disease, and her parent stock have papers to prove it.

Gary and I drove 82 miles out to Mrs R’s 15 acre property, and purchased a 6 week old bottle baby. I wanted to name him Ram-a-lamb-a-ding-dong, but when I saw how majestic his father was; I decided to let him keep his given name.

The reason that we decided on a bottle baby is that when a ram is raised by people with a bottle, he becomes a sweet pet and much easier to handle when he becomes the big 250# handsome daddy. He will be more than twice my weight, and I am not getting any younger (just better).

Ivan is as sweet as he can be. He comes into the house 3 times a day to slurp down about a pint of milk at each feeding. He spends his day out in the field with Mary and Bo peep. He spends his night sleeping with them in their barn.

Here is the magic in all of this. I would have had to pay $150, plus feed, plus lab fees every year for each of my two girls. But I paid 150.00 for Ivan, plus milk (until Ivan is old enough to just eat pasture) and in return; I will have my two girls bred every year from now on; without additional fees. I will have lamb in the freezer when the time is right, I could also barter with or sell a lamb to pay any costs that I might incur.

I did not name my little ram lamb for a doo-wop song after all. But last night;, when I put him to bed, I heard him singing to the lady sheep–

 

He was singing; Doo-wa-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy doo.

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Why I kept the sheep.

A friend of mine took a picture of Bo-Peep and put the verse on it. It now hangs in my hall way to remind me that I too need a shepherd.

My loyal followers know that I adopted a bottle baby lamb a couple of years ago. I named her Mary, because everywhere that Donna went that lamb was sure to go. Obviously I was not going to change my name to Mary, so she was the lucky recipient of the name.

Mary has  been a gentle (though not very bright) creature out in my pasture. Because I had built the pasture up with lots of different grasses; she eats primarily grass. I feed her alfalfa/Bermuda pellets during the winter to supplement the fact that the Bermuda in the field is dormant this time of year. But she is an easy keeper.

Her ewe lamb was born in June of 2017 and we named her Bo Peep. She is not nearly as friendly as her mamma, because I have not spent much time with her. She will be nine months old in March; the right age for butcher. But I decided to keep her.

First of all, you all know that I sold my dairy goats not long after Steve passed. Milking twice a day, working full time and spending more time at church, and social activities was just too much for this multi tasking girl. I actually considered selling the place, but decided to just slow down some of my activities. Having milk also meant that I would have to spend time making cheese with what I did not sell. So that was an easy decision.

The next reason is that sheep do not require the amount of attention that goats do. Goats love human attention. Sheep just want to be kept fed and watered.

Now that the goats are gone, Mary would be very lonely without Bo Peep. Once I am ready to breed these two girls, I will have at least two babies to raise for the freezer every year. Often times this breed has twins. So I could have 2-4 babies to raise for the freezer or I could sell one or two to offset any costs.

So there you go, two sheep are better than one.

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Raising Life Brings New Life

 

chicks hatching from an egg inside an incubator

My readers know that my husband passed away in April this past year. When that happened; the little farm property that we bought together (two and a half years ago) did not seem to bring me the same joy that it did when he was here enjoying it with me. I had actually meant to put it on the market, and was encouraged to do so by many. But…

I was fortunate to go on a trip to Chicago with a friend. One of the things that we did was go through the Museum  of Science and Industry. Of course my favorite part was the section on how food is raised, My friend (who had been there before) was so excited to show me the giant incubator. As we watched chicks hatch from eggs, I was struck once again by the magic of life. My friend who grew up in the city was amazed at the site of the chicks pipping out. I was thinking about chickens, eggs, gardens, fruit trees. The sustainability of planting a seed, and watching it grow into grass; that would feed the animals. They in turn would feed us. The rest of the trip I was thinking about my property, and what I had originally intended to do with it.

Several days went by, and each day I found myself day dreaming about reviving the gardens, replanting the pasture, obtaining more chickens, and then getting the sheep and pig bred.

So here I am in the new year; refreshing what I had originally started with Steve. Talking to my  friends again about farm community. Where will it all lead?

I do not know. What I do know is this. God told me that He was going to do something new with me; and He is. Praise you Lord.

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Firsts-Wedding Anniversary

I married Steve on December 10th, 2005.Today, we would have celebrated 12 years of marriage and over 14 years of being together.

We got married at church, and had a potluck reception at the home that he was living in, and I was moving into. Moving into an already established family (three of his five kids were still living at home) was not easy on me. But I loved him and gave it everything that I had.

It has only been just over 7 months since he went to Heaven. Originally, I dreaded the coming of this date. But now that it is  here, I realize the amount of comfort that God has given me.

I remember how hard it was to just be still on the outside, while inside; I was so scared. I wanted to do something. I wanted to run, screaming; due to the panic that I felt that I was unable to help the man that I loved.

People who looked on, still tell me that they were amazed at how I walked through it as it unfolded. There are those who even suggested that I was on tranquilizers. I was not, I knew that I needed to be still, and hang on to Jesus in a way that I never had before.

During that time, God told me that He would walk me through it, and that He was going to do a new thing in me; and He has. In ways that I would have never imagined.

He has opened my eyes to others who need more help than I do, and I have used my pain as a catalyst to help others.
Some have suggested that I am not grieving properly. That is not so. They have not seen me in the long hours of the night as I learn to sleep alone. They are not there when I have waken myself up crying from a  bad dream with no one to comfort me.

But I know that I have made a choice; a choice to continue to hold on to-no- to cling to my Lord. He knew what I would go through before it happened, and He knows what I feel even better than I know now.

I choose to look around me, and see those who need my encouragement rather than to look at my own problems. Here is what I have found. When I say or do something that encourages others; there is a peace and joy that fills my heart. Happiness floods my brain, and the love and appreciation that comes back to me is indescribable.

But there is something else that is happening for the first time in my life. There are others in my life now who are making it a point to love on me, and encourage me. I am accepting this new love that is rushing towards me. Then in turn I show these new people love and appreciation.

My eyes are open to-and I am seeing for the first time in my life what it is to be a part of a big circle of encouragement, love and appreciation that is flowing through me. It flows into me, strengthens me and flows out of me; onto others.

God is indeed doing what He told me that He would do. He is doing a new thing in me. Look up Numbers 23:19 and see the promise there.

After saying all this; there are some who would read and say “Donna, you must not have truly loved Steve to be able to recover so quickly”

My answer to them especially his family who are still in different stages of grief than I…

Please read very carefully. I loved Steve like I have never loved. He told me that he never loved anyone the way that he loved me. I miss him very much. What he and I went through together during his final days still haunts my dreams, and causes me to wake up crying.

But, Steve is in Heaven. He is watching ballgames, going to yard sales, and planting roses. He is doing all the things that brought him joy. He is with Jesus, he is feeling joy like he has never known.

I am here and I have a choice to make. I can be angry, and find someone to blame for my pain. I can wear sack cloth and ashes, crying to anyone who will listen-or I can connect with others. I can lean on Jesus, and listen for the sound of His voice in my life. I can allow those who will encourage me to do so.

Steve is so happy where he is, that he would not come back given the chance, and I would not be selfish enough to ask. But–Steve I love you. Happy Anniversary.

 

 

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Dancing to Chase the Blues Away

Steve and I met at a Christian single’s dance that came together every Friday.

Steve was not the best dancer, but I did not care. He really did not want to dance, he was there to play scrabble in the corner with some older ladies.  But I coaxed him out, encouraged him, and let him know that I just wanted to have fun; and we did.

Once we were married; we continued dancing-but not with the singles. We were invited by some friends who lived in retirement resorts. Those places really rock-well maybe swing is the more appropriate word. They hire live bands, and there is a dance every week during the off season, and every day during the snow bird season.

People come from all over the U.S. and Canada to East Mesa; from October to April to enjoy the swimming pools, golf and dancing. We have Big Band Music, Polka, Latin and Country to choose from.

In my singles class at church, there is a group that goes dancing to the same places that Steve and I went to. We connect via text to let each other know about lessons, dances or places with a dance floor.

You know what? I am a hard working girl who works hard at home too.

It is time to dust off my dancing boots.

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Finishing Well

When we had Steve’s funeral, I was amazed at all the people that showed up. Steve had many friends, and it was such a comfort to me to see how many came to show their love.

So when a new friend recently passed away, though I did not know him well; I attended the funeral.

This man was a strong Christian and a true servant to so many. The service was packed with people that lined up to say wonderful things about him.

This man also passed away from pancreatic cancer, and did not have long to prepare. But the theme was that this man wanted to “finish well”. It was obvious that he did.

It really made me think. As I learn to live my new life without Steve, I want to find out what it means for Donna to “finish well”. I know that I love Jesus, I love people and that I am a natural encourager. On my tombstone, I would want it to say “She loved others”.

I am using this post to finish the official story of Steve’s passing and segway into my new life, and how I will continue to “Share the Abundance of my life“.

I will share the stories here as God gives them to me. Not to brag, but to encourage others. I think that deep down, we all would like to serve and encourage others; but maybe we are shy and just do not know how.

Maybe these posts will help someone out there, reach past their pain to serve and encourage someone else.

In that serving, they too will again find their joy as I am finding mine.

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The Girls Are In

I called a couple of my closest friends from church last night.

I wanted to discuss my thoughts about “helping each other heal”. How boys and girls should help each other like friends and family instead of just trying to connect with a future.

The girls that I called love to cook, so they loved the idea. So here we go. I will talk to the singles pastor today about it, then come (after bowling) to make a big pot of chili for tomorrow’s singles gathering.

Today in bible study, I will chat some more people up about the idea.

This may flop-but it could turn out to be fun. If nothing  else, we will make new friends.

Hooray for Sharing Life’s Abundance!

 

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