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Raising Sheep Again 20 Years Later

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By Amy Conley, Conley Farm | Jun 1, 2014

This weekend our farm grew once again with the arrival of four sheep. We purchased three ewes and a ram lamb. The first picture is of our new flock.

This brings me back to my youth when my sisters and I raised sheep. It all started when my older sister had a friend that was in 4-H and had a couple of sheep. She begged my parents and I guess they were up for the challenge even though we lived in a small village. Luckily our house was at the very edge of the village so nobody seemed to mind. Her first sheep was a Corriedale named Coconut who really didn’t like anyone especially my mo.

About a year after she got her first sheep, I turned nine and was old enough to join 4-H so I got to go pick out my first sheep. She was a little runty dorset with spunk. I named her Pinky because her nose was pink and it was my favorite color (pictured below with Heidi our black lab). I remember spending every summer getting ready to show our sheep at the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, NY. We would wash them, trim them and teach them how to walk on a leash. It was so much fun hanging out in the sheep barn with our friends and answering all kinds of questions. I was always a little intimidated to show my sheep, mostly because I was shy. I am not sure we won too many blue ribbons but it was a great time in my life. I was in 4-H from 9 years old until 18. When my sisters and I started going off to college, we had to say goodbye to our sheep.

I really never expected to have sheep again. I also never expected to have a hobby farm with goats, chickens, ducks, geese and a pig either. So now that we are here my husband thinks I should know everything about sheep because I raised them before. Well, before was over 20 years ago and I was a kid. After reading some books I think we didn’t always do it right back then. It was just an expensive hobby for my family instead of a means of income or food. We never ate our own sheep, I hated lamb and my mother wouldn’t cook it. She still doesn’t. It wasn’t until my mother in law made it for me that I really started enjoying the taste of lamb.

Our goal in raising sheep is to first, put meat in the freezer. Second, I hope to be able to do something with the wool. Like I said, it has been many years but I hope to learn. Third, we want to breed our ewes and raise the lambs for meat to sell hopefully in the future. Mostly our goal is for our animals to make enough money to at least pay for themselves. We have lots of land so spring, summer and fall are all pasture/grass fed. Visit my facebook page to see more pictures of our new sheep. Please like my page if you enjoy my stories at www.facebook.com/conleyfarm.

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