Cota Farms' Blog

June 23, 2013

We Like Sheep

Since I have become a shepherd, I have become oh so aware of what it means to be a sheep and it is quite disturbing.  There are too many references in literature liking people to sheep and it is not just a metaphor.  Among the most disturbing references is the idea that the very small group of men that control the world justify what they do because we are just sheep and therefore they have the right and duty to control, care for (whatever word you can stomach) us.  These people have been called various things for hundreds (thousands) of years and it is these very names that help to obscure their existence because these titles have been discredited, relegated to conspiracy theorists so I will not further help their cause by discrediting my own writing by using them.

It is true that we have greater intellect than sheep, and one would think that would be enough to protect us from their fate but I see that it is not true. Intelligence is a relative term and is not synonymous with thought, or the ability to reason or imagine possible future events.

We have been farming for a decade or more now and once again we are making changes to our operation.  This time the changes are more difficult and eerily consistent with what I see in the world around me.  You see we had a period when our flock grew, multiplied even faster than I had worked toward.  We didn’t have enough pasture to support them all but hay prices were such that we were able to supplement what we had.  Last winter changed all of that.  We lost what we thought we had gained because there were too many sheep and the price of hay increased so much we could no longer buy it.  And of course, not being alone in this predicament meant that the price we could get for our sheep dropped very low at the same time.

We are now culling our flock.  That is an interesting word, cull.  It is not used much in the cities but history teaches us that there will come a time when that word will have greater meaning to the population at large.  I remember when the Chinese government implemented its one child rule and other self-righteous countries like ours said what a terrible thing it was.  As a shepherd I very well understand the importance of controlling population, now more so than ever.

I know that most of us do not accept the idea of controlling the growth of the population unless we are controlling the growth of a certain group of people that don’t look like us.  This is often just dismissed as racism but I believe it is even more than that.  So then is it true that if we do not take responsibility for our own population growth we are just sheep and then it is left to others to deal with the situation?

Of course the powers that be have a way of dealing with this type of thought as well, once again relegating these ideas to the realm of conspiracy theorists.  They are very cleaver in how they go about it, using the classical argument of reducing these ideas to the absurd.  For example, these unnamed powers will harvest human beings for replacement organs maybe even bring aliens from outer space into the story.   Once you get people to laugh at the pure ridiculousness of the idea then the small amount of truth in the story is dismissed along with the rest of it.  Brilliant!

Maybe some of use will get a reprieve, much like this ewe that was a bottle baby and now enjoys a hands off status as beloved petrrr

August 29, 2012

Summer Lambs

I love summer lambs!  Even though we have never lost a lamb to the weather, I still worry when it is very cold and the wind howls terribly.  In the summer it is so easy on the new lambs and their mothers.  I look at nature and think it is not natural to have young in the dead of winter; perhaps I am wrong but I think the demand for spring lamb has led to the practice of farmers lambing in winter.  We don’t do things that way, yes we do have most of our lambs in the winter but our lambs are generally not big enough by Easter for sale.  That is one of the disadvantages of using Jacob Sheep but I believe the advantages prevail.

One reason we are able to have summer lambs is we don’t take our rams out of the pasture, when a ewe is ready the ram will be there to service her.  This is something else we do differently.  We also don’t have to worm our sheep or stay up at night to help with lambing.  I wonder if anyone has run the numbers to see if the larger commercial lambs are worth the added labor and expense.  I have noticed that the non-commercial breeds don’t bring as much at the livestock auctions so their advantage is greatly diminished when it comes time for sale.

The advantage may still yet come back to the heritage breed producer.  If the meat is in fact better, an important reason why we use them, and we don’t have to depend on the stockyards to move our sheep to market, then we can overcome some impediments to selling our lamb.

Ohio produces a lot of lamb but most of it is consumed in other states, this is why we are so dependent on the brokers.  Because of government laws we are not able to sell our processed lamb across state lines.  This seems very strange to me as China is able to sell whatever they want to every state but I don’t want to go there just so I can sell my lamb to New York.

This has changed.  State processing facilities can now apply for a new label that would allow farmers like me to sell our lamb directly to buyers in states that consume a lot of lamb.  I plan to investigate this further and see if it will help me or merely discover that once again those with the power and the money have already found a way to keep the advantage.

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