Baaaah to the Bone

Hello there BOTL Farm fan club.  Today we explore a tale of success and failure, a story of victory and defeat.  A tale of lovely stock and tail.  Let’s talk about sheep.

When the farm was first established in the summer of 1965, we wrote a business plan using a primitive text editor, similar to vim and not at all like a typewriter, but actually maintained by Microsoft.  The business plan said BOTL Farm would primarily focus on the development and sales of swine products.  We self identify as pork enthusiasts and our hobbies include home-made sausage and bacon, and hosting an annual pig roast.  An aspiring pig farmer never imagines they will own sheep.  Sheep are not pigs, and pigs do not need to be sheared, and nobody has ever eaten sheep bacon.

We were going upon our merry ways, doing BOTL Farm things, cutting down trees, collecting giant buckets of eggs, trying to figure out how to make a bee hive live to celebrate a birthday, doing cold laser therapy on our dog’s shoulder and our farm laborer’s back, and that’s when it hit us.  Like a phone call from our farm mentor.  Our mentor, guide, hero, inspiration, and general moral compass had decided to quit farming and move to a distant island in the Pacific and buy a sailboat.  After decades of building a successful farm, teaching us everything we knew about stock piling yogurt cups and how to mend electro-net, she was throwing in the towel.  Also she wanted to give us sheep.  We didn’t want sheep, but we also do whatever she says.

Originally we said no sheep, then we agreed to three sheep, and finally we took delivery of nine sheep.  Three lady breeder sheeps, each with two baby lamb sheeps.  We raised one of the baby lambs into a breeder boy sheep.  Don’t think too much about that, it’s totally normal farm animal stuff.  Now I hear you, dear reader, asking why the sheep are not pigs.  For pigs have pork chops, and pork chops are delicious, much like racks of lambs.  The answer for why we do not have pigs is a tale for another time.. a story of road building, barn building, bridge burning, and inland New Jersey.  We’ll discuss that later.  For now, you must know that we have sheep we never wanted, but now love.

So our mentor moved to to the beach and gave us her herd of nine sheep.  Now we move them daily to new grass pastures.  We built them a sheep shelter, and we feed them minerals.  Owning a sheep occasionally involves doing very Rude Things.  Sheep need a mix of selenium and garlic oil, but they don’t know they need this.  They know it so little, we must squirt it down their throats while they are trapped in a pallet maze.  It’s quite rude, and incredibly necessary.

The sheep are helping us clear the forest of BOTL Farm’s 40 acres, at a rate we previously didn’t think was possible.  Our human farmer can use a dinosaur powered chainsaw and sintered metal lopers to clear a quarter acres in three weeks, but our sheep herd can use their molars and hooves to clear a full acre in half that time.  They eat weeds and picker bushes, and if we take down small saplings they eat all the leaves and follow us excitedly looking to see if we are carrying buckets.  Buckets are the best, only good things come from buckets.  Except for when Rude Things come from buckets, but mostly good things come from buckets.
Here in the midst of fall, we’re staring down the barrel of another winter and the challenge of keeping alive animals that eat grass.  We don’t yet have a barn built, and we are faced with difficult decisions like how to heat a sheep standing on an ice sheet in the middle of Connecticut.  The solution, is to transfer the sheep to a warmer location.  Like the freezer.  So we’ll do that for a few of the sheep, except for the breeders.  Those we’re going to feed hay and skip their fall shearing, and pray to some livestock deities and hope for the best.

And so we have added another unexpected product to our current line up of candles, coasters, no honey, lumber, eggs by the hundred, whole chickens, and free poison ivy samples — whole lambs!  As it so happens, we have already sold all three of our lambs for this season, however our male breeder sheep happily reports that more lambs should be in stock for next year !

Sheep are an unexpected addition to our farm, but have turned out to be an enjoyable one and we look forward to our role of shepherding them into the future.

Page Last Updated on 2024-06-14

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