I’d like to introduce the newest members of our homestead: Marilla & her two ewe lambs, Clementine & Robin! They are Finn/Shetland/Dorper/Katadhin crosses, and they’re as sweet as can be!
The reason we started our homestead in 2017 was to increase our self-sufficiency and raise our children in a grounded, wholesome, “free-range” environment. We do a bit of gardening and grow herbs + a few veggies, and our chickens provide us eggs and occasionally meat — but high quality red meat and dairy is something that we feel is important but didn’t have readily access to. We live in a very mountainous forested area so raising cattle or a dairy cow wasn’t on our radar, but after doing a bunch of research last year I found what we believe to be the next best thing: sheep!
The more research we did, the more excited we got because sheep sounded like the perfect fit! We found that sheep’s milk is superior in vitamin & mineral content, healthy fat and protein content, and that it’s even totally digestible for people with lactose intolerances. Not only that, but they actually improve pastures that they are kept on, versus overgrazing land (common cattle problem). When it comes to lamb meat, apparently it’s the best red meat you can find on the market! Lamb is much more nutrient-dense than beef and is richer in amino acids. Lamb meat also contains more healthy fats than beef. Sheep are also obviously easier to handle than large cattle, especially with young kiddos on the homestead.
Dual Purpose Sheep
We wanted something sustainable for our smallish-scale homestead, a flock that we could get high quality lambs from every year for our freezer along with enough milk to cover our family’s dairy needs. That’s where Marilla and her two daughters come in! They are a mix of fine-wool sheep and hair sheep breeds and dairy and meat breeds. Once we add a ram with strong dairy lines like an East Friesian ram, we’ll have a higher yield of milk next year, along with improved hardiness and vigor to the flock. The goal is to have healthy happy lambs born in the spring next year with enough to raise some for meat for the fall, or to sell, and enough milk for our dairy needs! Milk, cheese, butter, and pudding, of course!
It’s worth mentioning that I’ve actually never been around sheep except for at petting zoos, so this was a brand new thing for all of us! There are some really great online groups of homesteaders who raise sheep and they are such a wealth of knowledge, along with fellow homesteaders on YouTube. We spent 6 months researching sheep-related everything while we renovated our little barn, prepped for sheep, and waited for springtime to find a little starter flock. We found Marilla & her two lambs online, they came from a loving home and were already super sweet and friendly and tame! It really was just perfect and I thank God for leading us along this journey.