Free Workshop!
Creating a Vision for Your Farm/Ranch

Do you know what you want
your farm or ranch to look like?

How about your finances, watershed, or family?
Do you have a picture of what your life will look like in 5 years?
Step out of your endless chore loop and choose a new path.

In this free workshop Jenn Colby shows you a manageable process to develop a vision, whether you are figuring it out by yourself or bringing the whole farm or ranch with you. You’ll walk away with a step-by-step guide to take home, and we’ll go through how to vision in person or online (it works!).

Join On Pasture on January 25.  Let’s set ourselves up for success! ______
For More on Jenn and her process, check out this month’s “Thinking Grazier.” It’s an On Pasture Open Access Article.

Be sure to sign up for the Solace Farmer Blog in the box to your right ->

Soil Health 101: Virtual Workshop

Join NCAT Agriculture Specialists Felicia Bell and Nina Prater January 25, 2022, for a free, online introduction to soil health. What makes soil healthy or unhealthy? Why is soil health critical to long term farming success? What are some guiding principles all farmers can follow to build soil health? This virtual workshop will address those questions, and there will be a Q & A session to answer participants’ questions.

Soil Health 101: Virtual Workshop

New webinar from Seed Savers Exchange!

Seed Savers Exchange is excited to announce the first seed rematriation webinar of a four-part series.    This series will highlight 2021-2022 seed rematriation work with seven partners funded through a North Central SARE Partnership grant awarded to Seed Savers Exchange.    Join us to learn how Indigenous farmers, activists, communities, and nations are welcoming seeds home to grow and share.    Our first webinar will be held Tuesday, January 18, 2022, from 1 – 2 PM Central Time (US). Find your time zone.  
This webinar is open to the public. Space is limited for the live event, but the event will be recorded and shared with everyone who registers. Even if you are unable to join us live you will be able to watch it at your own convenience. 
Register Today
Seed rematriation addresses the desire for Indigenous communities to actively reclaim their ancestral seeds and traditions. Moderated by Shelley Buffalo, this session features panelists Dr. Rebecca Webster and Kellie Zahn sharing information on
–  their experience with the rematriation process
–  their chosen seed varieties
 – farming techniques like high tunnel and Three Sisters mound gardens
  -ways this partnership could be modeled for others looking to engage in this work

Safety for Sheep and Shepherd

By Linda Poole, Regenerative Grazing Specialist

When NCAT’s Livestock Team recently held a series of webinars for people considering a new livestock enterprise, many folks indicated they were thinking of getting sheep. Sounds good to me! Sheep were first domesticated 11,000 years ago, and for centuries women and children tended sheep or goats while men managed larger, potentially more dangerous stock, such as cattle and horses. Today, sheep can be handled without a lot of expensive infrastructure, and well-socialized sheep are friendly, calm, and fun to be around.

But with their small size and cute-and-fuzzy-factor, it’s easy to underestimate sheep. It’s also a fact that they can maim or kill you. This is not intended to cause you to fear sheep; it is fair warning to respect them. Safety is especially important if you’re working sheep alone, without someone to watch your back or lend a hand if things start to go sideways.

Safety with sheep is a topic better suited to books than blogs, but by paying attention to these common-sense guidelines, shepherds can work more safely:

  • Source your sheep from a reputable breeder. Those cheap sheep on Craigslist or at the auction barn might harbor health or behavior issues that you just don’t need in your life.
  • NEVER turn your back on a ram, and this goes double during breeding season. Tame rams can be the worst, going from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde in an instant when their hormones surge during breeding season. Don’t play with or pet rams. Petting a ram is like feeding a bear – neither usually ends well for the animal.
  • Ewes can thump you, too, especially when they have baby lambs. Stay attentive to the body language of sheep around you.
  • Keep your head up and eyes open when you bend or kneel to eye level with sheep. This can invite a charge, and it puts you right where a sheep can inflict maximum damage.
  • Instill respect in your sheep. I train sheep to keep at least a few feet away from me unless I invite them in closer. My tool for this is a plastic grocery bag tied to the stout handle of a 6’ long leg crook. Working the flock, I hold the stick still beside my leg until I want the sheep to move off, then I gently wiggle the bag low to the ground. If I want more energy in the sheep, I lift the stick higher and give the bag a stronger shake. If necessary, I can use the stick as a prod to repel a disrespectful sheep. To catch a sheep, I herd it into a stout fence corner, and then use the crook to carefully catch its leg without ever getting my head down where I could get rammed.
  • Always be alert, fair, and firm. Practice low-stress stockmanship. Good stockmanship is essential to safety for sheep and shepherd!
  • Many old shepherds, myself included, have bad knees and sore backs from foolishly trying to block or catch a running sheep. Use your brain, save your body: set things up to keep sheep from stampeding in the first place. And if they do, step aside and let them go. Then start over, this time keeping things calm.
  • Working yards don’t need to be large or fancy, but they must have good footing, good visibility, and sound fences in a sheep-smart layout.
  • Implement biosecurity. Some diseases are communicable between humans and sheep. Good hygiene practices reduce the risk of passing diseases between species. If you develop an unexplained malady, tell your doctor that you raise sheep.
  • What’s your emergency plan? Do you have an escape route? Got your mobile phone? Does someone know where you are, when to expect you back, and what to do if you don’t show up?
  • One of the most useful references on safety for shepherds is (ironically) the Beef Quality Assurance Handbook. For sheep-centric information, consult the guide Safe Sheep Handling.

Small ruminants are wonderful creatures and can be the basis of a rewarding, fun, and profitable business — so long as you always think of safety first.

Roast Leg of American Lamb with Potatoes & Lemon


  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb, about 5 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 12 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 pounds yukon gold potatoes, quartered
  • 2 organic lemons, cut into eighths
  • 3/4 pounds shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine


The night before cooking, use a paring knife to make 24 1-inch punctures around the leg of lamb. Rub it inside and out with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Place ½ clove of garlic inside each puncture. Cover and refrigerate the leg overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tbsp salt, oregano, rosemary, and ½ tsp black pepper.

Toss together the potatoes, lemons, shallots, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and ⅔ of the spice mixture in a large roasting pan.

Rub the leg of lamb with the remaining spice mixture, and place it on top of the veggies in the pan. Pour the vegetable stock, lemon juice, and white wine into the bottom of the pan.

Place in the oven and roast until the internal temperature of the lamb leg reaches 140 degrees F, about 90 minutes, using a metal ladle to spoon the pan juices over the vegetables every 30 minutes.

Remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving + serving.

Lamb and Chanterelle Mushroom Phyllo Pie


  • 2 pounds ground American Lamb
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion 
  • ¼ cup cubed pancetta 
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ pound sliced fresh chanterelle mushrooms (or any mushrooms)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • ¼ cup port, or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups broth of your choice
  • 10 phyllo pastry sheets


Preheat the oven to 350F.

 Heat a large pot over medium heat, and add the lamb. Cook, stirring, until evenly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour off some fat, if desired. Add the butter, the onion, tomato paste, pancetta, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, and spices, and cook until the onions are soft, and the flavors have melded, 5 to 7 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the port, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, and pour in the broth. Stir, and simmer until thickened. Remove and discard the bay leaf, and allow it to cool slightly. Note: USDA recommends ground lamb be cooked to an internal temp of 160 degrees. 

 Brush a 9 -inch pie dish with olive oil, and layer sheets of phyllo pastry in the dish, turning it as you go, and brushing each sheet with olive oil until the phyllo has covered the entire dish. (Olive oil spray is great for this!) Pour in the lamb filling, and bring the overlap up, scrunching it around the edges. Brush the phyllo with olive oil, and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite sides! 

Holiday Drawing

Alpaca Fiber is luscious and a local Alpaca Shepherdess sold me some lovely fiber…Sadly I have discovered that I am very allergic to Alpaca Fiber. I will be giving this softness away in our next Holiday Drawing. I will be drawing 4 names from the list of those who enter.

What do you need to do to enter? Simply Comment on this post A or B or C or D and be sure to sign up for our Blog/Newsletter. Winners to be announced December 15, 2021

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