Next month, I'll be opening a new chapter in my work as a stockman. In mid January, I will become the herdsman at the University of California’s Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center. This new job will give me the opportunity to care for grazing livestock (cattle, in this case) and to help with education and outreach activities. I’m tremendously excited about the job! I'll be getting paid to work horseback with my dogs, and I'll have the opportunity to assist with research and teaching!
As you can imagine, this change means we're re-thinking our sheep business. We'll be downsizing our operation significantly in the next several weeks. Our plan is to match our flock to the pasture resources we have close to home (we intend to keep 40-50 ewes). We'll still offer grass-fed lamb next fall (whole and half lambs can be reserved later this spring), and we'll still offer our best fleeces to handspinners this spring. However, we won't be going to the farmer's market for the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, we are offering 85 bred ewes for sale. Most of these ewes are 3-5 years old. We ultrasounded the flock in mid-December, and all of the ewes we're offering for sale scanned as bred. They are due to lamb between late February and the end of March. They are mostly "mules" (Blueface Leicester-crosses - mostly with Cheviot ewes). We're asking $240 each for them ($230 each if you take 10 or more).
Once again, we will be offering our Shepherding School in 2015 (in collaboration with UC Cooperative Extension). Here's the schedule:
- Predator Protection for Small-Scale Livestock Producers - January 11, 2015 (part of the Nevada County Sustainable Food and Farm Conference in Grass Valley). For info, go to http://foodandfarmconference.com.
- Introduction to Sheep Production (including marketing, management and husbandry) - January 15, 2015 (6:30 to 8:30 p.m.) - Auburn, CA
- Sheep Huspandry Field Day (including trimming feet, vaccinations and general husbandry) - January 17, 2015 (8:30 a.m. to 12 noon) - Auburn, CA
- Pasture Lambing School (including managing ewes and lambs, processing lambs, and nutritional considerations) - March 7, 2015 (8:30 a.m. to 12 noon) - Auburn, CA
- Wool Handling and Shearing - May 2015 (date and time to be determined) - Auburn, CA
For more information, go to http://ucanr.edu/sites/placernevadasmallfarms/
Thank you for all of your support over the years. We are staying in Auburn - and staying in the sheep business. I'll continue to provide updates at www.facebook.com/flyingmulefarm and on my blog at www.flyingmule.blogspot.com. And I'm sure I'll continue to write about my experiences and observations as a stockman.