Great Resource for Shepherd and Goatherders!

From Melinda Ellison

Hi all, I’m the Extension Sheep Specialist with the University of Idaho. Myself and a team of sheep and goat specialists from Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah have teamed up to host a monthly sheep and goat webinar series, where we invite other experts to present on time-relevant topics. I’d like to invite you all to join us for our next one on Wednesday, February 9, 2022. Register here: […/regi…/WN_fWiLWKvuS2-dx3AJnWotNw](

We have also posted all of our past webinars to our YouTube channel, so please check us out! [](

Encouragement is Essential

I am passionate about Farming and often feel I should spend less time talking and writing about it .

Summer Chores

I have to remind myself why I go beyond living the farm life to sharing it. The following is a note I recieved:

” You were one of the people who helped me keep pushing the first time. When you told me that it takes at least 5 years to feel like you have something started. And you were right!

Unfortunately I lost most of what we had built but, God is so good and we have a second opportunity to do it again and better with more knowledge, wisdom and much better teamwork!

I keep hearing your words, 5 years, just keep going! ❤️

Thank you for your words of encouragement” -Rebecca Cummins

I love to hear of your challenges and successes!

March Madness

March is the month when January planning and February preparing begins to pay off. The lambs and kids have begun to arrive by now as have the piglets. The seeds I ordered, after pouring over the seed catalogs, have also arrived and will soon all be nestled in the soil germinating. The chickens have begun to lay, so now the routine of checking on and turning eggs in the incubator has been added to the day.

     The renewing of life as spring fast approaches is a delightful time and a hectic time. The first fleeces are off the sheep. I always try to shear before the ewes lamb for two reasons. First, it makes it easier to watch over their progress toward lambing and secondly, it makes for a premium, clean fleece to work with. Now the dilemma is over which fleeces to sell raw, which to make into batts or roving and which go into my private treasury.

     March is also the month for marketing to be kicked into high gear. The annual farm letter goes out to alert our loyal customers that they need to place their orders for meat animals for this year. Web and print advertising go full scale as we are weekly adding Breeding Stock available for sale and soon the spring’s first crops of fleece and seedlings as well. It is wonderful to have the explosion of production and now is the time to share this with our customers.

      Amidst all this activity there is the list of preparations for spring planting as well as fence repairs on all the paddocks. I swear there are gremlins riding the deer who delight in breaking wires and pushing posts over in the spring thaw.

     This is the time of year when I often allow the excitement of renewal to turn into worry over all that needs to get done and finding the time to do it. This is when the planning and preparing of January and February becomes the ever growing “to do” list of spring. Having a Check List on the fridge helps me track my progress, keeping me feeling like I am gaining on the tasks at hand.

     I often remind myself that Christ said, “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Keeping my focus on the tasks of today leads to enjoying the delights of spring from the first returning robin to the first tomato sprouts. This is the way to relish a farmer’s life in the midst of all the activity that spring brings.

Plan the Work – Work the Plan 

My favorite part of February is changing my focus from harvest and completing the yearly tasks to planning for the adventure of the coming year.  I get a sense of accomplishment as I complete the year end paper work for taxes and take the time to evaluate what we accomplished on the farm.  By spending the first two weeks of February doing that cumulative evaluation it helps the plans and goals of the new year to take shape.

 We have long term goals for 5 and 10 years out and in February we look at how our past year and short term goals for 1 to 3 years are fitting in with those long term targets.  We ask ourselves, are we on course or have we changed direction?  When these questions have been answered, then we set our budget and begin mapping out our monthly and quarterly plans.

     This period of planning the work is exciting to me because of all the possibilities the year holds.  Yes, we evaluate what went wrong or didn’t work last year – we adjust and move on.  There is no sense in crying over spilt milk, so to speak, so we don’t dwell on regrets.  February is a time to see what went right and capitalize on those successes.

person holding white stylus
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on

     The difficult part of this process for me (and hence for Rob because he has to keep reminding me) is keeping my focus and setting CLEAR priorities.  The problem for me is there is so much I can do and I can see how they all would be good endeavors but not all will fit within my defined goals or the hours in a day.  It is even harder to limit the scope of my plans so I have the time and energy to give each task.  I have to remember if I over commit myself I lose the ability to do the important tasks while enjoying the Farming Lifestyle, which after all is why I’m farming in the first place.

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