Kelly and I attended our third Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) conference this weekend. As usual we met a lot of farmers, learned a lot of farm stuff and found ourselves to be inspired about our agrarian existence and our chosen commitment to regenerative agriculture.
The first farmer we met was Victoria. She wasn’t at the conference, but her farm was on the way there, near Kendall, Wisconsin. She invited us to visit so we could learn about heritage sheep. Victoria, a converted city dweller like us, has been a full time farmer for seven years. Most of the time she farms solo (her husband makes a long daily commute to his city job), raising sheep for wool and meat, and heritage turkeys for eggs and meat. We made the contact through her ad for pasture-raised lamb on Craigslist.
Victoria introduced us to Flan, her lovable Gotland-Icelandic ram. I had read that sheep are skittish around humans. This one craved human contact as much as any dog I have ever seen. Did you know that sheep wag their tails when you pet them? At least these sheep did. I sent a picture of Kelly and Flan to our friend Randy. “Can we keep him?” he replied. Hard to convince ourselves we should not get sheep after meeting Flan.
Victoria gave us as much farm tour as the calf-deep snow allowed. That's the anatomical calf. Had there been stranded baby cows in need of rescue, we would have helped with that instead. She answered questions about feed, fencing, breeding, shearing, predator control and marketing lamb, as Flan nuzzled the nearest human leg vying for our attention. I half wondered if he wanted me to throw a ball so he could fetch it. From spring to fall Victoria’s sheep rotate through paddocks (grazing sections) she sets up in the pasture. They get hay in the winter and are naturally parasite resistant. She was gracious and more than generous with her time. Typical farmer, if you ask me.
We were pretty sure we wanted sheep grazing our pastures as the next step in the evolution of our farm. Thanks to Victoria, Flan and the rest of the flock, I think we one step closer to certainty.