The Navajo Churro Sheep
– descended from the Churra an ancient breed brought over from the Spanish Explorers to the ” New Spain”
– 17th Century Native Indians acquired flocks of Churro for food and fiber
– 1850’s thousands of Churro were trailed west to supply the California Gold Rush
– 1863 the U.S Army decimated the Navajo flocks in retribution for continued Indian depredations until only true blood survivors were found only in isolated villages in Northern New Mexico and remote canyons of the Navajo Indian Reservation.
– 1970’s breeders set to revitalize the Navajo flocks through the Navajo Sheep Project introducing a cooperative breeding program.
– known for their long-staple of protective topcoat and soft undercoat. They range in a multitude of shades white, tan, black, brown, gray and mixes of those.
– highly resistant to disease and needs no pampering to survive and prosper.
– the flavor of the meat is incomparably superior with surprisingly low-fat content.
Sunday morning farmer Ken, Kate, Dave, and Hunter made the two-hour drive to South Royalton Vermont to pick up our breeding flock of Navajo Churro Sheep.
Upon arriving at Orion Rising Farm the crew started to load up the 4 ewes. The loading of the girls was pretty uneventful until after having them in the trailer Farmer Kate noticed a beautiful darker female in a small group off to the side. Mentioning her to the Bob, the breeder, she learned that the little gal was headed to butcher that afternoon. Farmer Kate didn’t like the sound of that and bought her as well! So with now, 5 ewes loaded up on the trailer it was time to get the rams!
Loading of the big rams was a harder process as there was no ramp and they had to be lifted into the trailer. Farmer Dave and Breeder Bob were able to lift each ram into the trailer with Farmer Ken manning the door so the already loaded one didn’t escape.
The process to grow the Birch Rise Farm breeding program to include Sheep started over 6 months ago when Farmer Hunter and Farmer Kate took a road trip to this breeder and toured the farm. She discussed wanting to purchase rams and ewes to start a breeding program and wanted them to all be from unrelated bloodlines. Breeder, Bob, was very knowledgable and selected two rams and 4 ewes that would be great to start with. All of his sheep for sale are 14 months old and ready to start mating. The others that did not get selected headed to a butcher in NY to be featured in restaurants in NYC!
After arriving home the team separated the sheep into two groups to start the breeding process. Two ewes with the Black Ram and three with the white.
Stayed tuned for more information on the Navajo Churro sheep!
Hunter showed 5 of his chickens at the Belknap County Fair today….he received 4 out of 5 blue ribbons for his birds, the best in showmanship trophy, a blue ribbon for his poster and runner up on herdsmanship!
Overall a very good first 4H Fair and I think it’s safe to say the Osgood’s have been bitten with the 4H bug! Next year sheep!
We started a variety of seedlings under the lights in the basement but didn’t anticipate how many plants we would need. Originally, we only planned to use a portion of the greenhouse but as construction was nearing completion we decided to go big or go home. This was a golden opportunity for us to try everything in our first year and learn from the experience.
Each barrel is labeled numerically and we have a spreadsheet detailing the exact plant species, date planted, watering needs, etc. As the summer progresses we will notate what works, issues encountered and what plants would be better suited for our raised beds outside of the greenhouse. Currently, we’re using the traditional old school watering arrangement of a hand held nozzle and hose but we hope to have a more efficient process in before Summer. Our greenhouse is doing better than we could’ve expected in our first year especially with how wet and cold this Spring has been.
I always say ” I’m good at keeping children and animals alive….plants not so much” well maybe this year will be the change my black thumb and I need! ~ Farmer Kate👩🏻🌾
Yesterday, Ken & I took Hunter to see the documentary “The Biggest Little Farm” …..it was a great movie and felt very much like our daily lives.
Farming is ever changing ….observing how things are working or not working and modifying them until they do. There are very hard days but also amazingly rewarding days….always with the same goal in mind to raise a healthier happier food source for us and you, our customers.
We definitely recommend going to see this movie!!
~ Kate 👩🏻🌾
What happens on a farm pick up morning . . . .
The first thing to do is clean the farm store Farmer Hunter took that job over . . . .
Once the coolers are unloaded from the truck Farmer Ken & Farmer Kate weigh and tag each roaster. We sell all our meat by the pound and need to mark each for their weight.
After they are put into the freezer we eat lunch and wait for customers to come to pick them up!
Farming is not for the faint of heart . . . .I have read this time and time again in farm blog articles or books but had never experienced the pain, frustration, and heartache that the other farmer authors wrote about. That all changed this past December when our Sow Tulip stopped being able to get up and was in a lot of pain.
Tulip & her sister Pumpkin joined our farm in April of 2018. The girls came from a fellow Berkshire breeder in VT. The farmer was downsizing due to health issues and we were very ready to take on addition Sows. Right away they were able to establish a hierarchy with the herd and made their personalities known. Pumpkin is very loveable and is always ready for a belly rub. Tulip, on the other hand, was a little fighter and didn’t like to be touched at first. I was able to wear her down with treats and ear scratches over time. Pumpkin bred right away with our boar, Brewster, but Tulip never took and went into heat month after month.
Come November we had determined that Tulip was just going to be companion pig for Brewster and they would live together during the non-breeding season.
On December 14th, 2018 I went to feed the pigs and noticed that everyone had come running but Tulip which was unusual. I found her laying in their hut unable to put much weight on her back right leg. Ken and I determined she must have sprained it ( which has happened before) and that after a few days she should be fine or we would call in the farm vet for a visit. Over that weekend we were able to get her up, eating and drinking, but she still didn’t leave the hut area. Our local vet does farm visits on Tuesdays so we called and scheduled for him to come by then.
Tuesday came and Dr.Mason conducted a physical exam of Tulip quickly determining that she had broken her back. The only thing we could ascertain was that she must have slipped on ice and injured herself. This is a death sentence for any pig, especially a 400-pound sow. Ken and I started talking about the next steps we didn’t want her to go to waste. Calling local butchers and meat processors we quickly decided that the best thing to do was offer her to a family that could use her for meat. I started hand feeding and watering her every morning and keeping her as comfortable as we could until we found the right family.
The following Thursday, December 20th, I went down in the morning to Tulip the night before she had managed to get out of the hut and I had buried her in straw to keep her warm. This morning when I headed down I hear the squeak of a piglet. SHE WAS FARROWING ON THE ICE & SNOW! I quickly called for back up and our neighbors came to help. Brittney grabbed the piglet and brought it into her warm car under her jacket. Dana came and helped me move the other pigs into another paddock away from Tulip and when Ken got home he helped him move a shelter over Tulip since it had started to rain.
Tulip already had a death sentence she was never going to get better but we didn’t want her bonus piglets to as well. After an examination, I was able to determine that she was not going to be able to have these piglets naturally and she didn’t have milk coming in. I suited up and Ken helped me to pull 7 piglets from her. She ended up having 11 in total 9 were born alive. We moved the 9 piglets into the house and made a makeshift nursery. That story will be in another post!
On Christmas Eve of 2018 Tulip was put out of her misery and given to a family to help feed them throughout the year in total they were able to salvage over 160 pounds of pork.
There has been a lot going on here at the farm this past week . . . but first, it’s meat chicken time! We received 200 chicks in this week which will be ready for purchase as roasters or parts in May.
The chicks need the temperature to be almost 100 degrees for the first week or more as they eat and drink. They have constant access to food for the first three weeks of life. After they are three weeks old they have access to food for 12 hours and then off for 12 hours. This controls how big they get.