Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Archive for tag: sheep

How Can Sheep Survive Bitter Cold Weather

This post first appeared on Kim Goodling's blog at http://www.livingwithgotlands.com/. Kim is shepherdess to a flock of Gotlands, the curly sheep from Sweden. She invites farm stay guests to experience rural living, sheep, and fiber art at her farm in Vermont. See her Farm Stay U.S. listing at Grand View Farm or visit her website.

We thought with all the challenging weather happening across the country right now, a post on how sheep can survive such cold temps would be interesting... enjoy!

 

I am often asked how my sheep can survive the harsh Vermont winter weather. Temperatures in our area often hover in the single digits with spells well below zero at times. Snow piles high around the barn, and cold winds blow frequently. With proper shelter and feed, our sheep have no difficulty with these winter conditions and cold temperatures.

Proper Housing

Visitors to our farm often think that a closed barn provides the best place for our livestock in the winter. In fact, that is the last thing that they need. Being shut in a barn, causes a build up of moisture and ammonia in the air, irritating their respiratory tract and causing infection. Sheep stay much healthier if they have access to sun and fresh air every day.

The thermometer registered 15 degrees below zero this morning, with wind chills between 40-60 degrees below zero. On days like this, our barn door remains open for the sheep to come and go as they please. The barn offers protection from the bitter wind, but certainly not much protection from the cold. This morning, all the sheep, as well as the llama, were hunkered down in the barn. With the gusty wind, we fed them their hay in the barn so they did not have to brave the subzero wind chill to eat breakfast. We also have a three sided shelter which provides a wind break for them. The sun shines into the shelter all day, giving the sheep a place out doors, with protection from the wind, without having to be inside the barn.

LwG - Drifting snow
Drifting Snow and Wicked Winds

Warm From the Outside In

Sheep have their own natural source of insulation all over their bodies. Their wool keeps their body heat in and the cold out. That is why you will see sheep with snow piled on their backs; their body heat does not reach the outer layers of their fleece to melt the snow. The lanolin in their wool also prevents moisture from getting to their skin. When doing chores, if my hands get cold, I will take off my mittens and bury my hands in the wool on one of the ewes to get warm.

 

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Ema’s wool protects her from the snow.


Warm From the Inside Out

We do give the sheep lots of second cut hay during the winter to eat. Due to the fermentation of fibrous matter, the rumination process actually creates a great deal of heat. This warms the sheep from the inside out, thus the need for good quality hay throughout winter months. The more sheep eat, the more heat they produce. A pregnant ewe will also have added heat from the lamb growing inside of her. The shepherd may provide added energy to their diet during extreme cold weather. We give warm molasses water when the temps dip in the single digits for added energy.

 

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Feeding Second Cut Hay

 

With shelter from the wind and proper nutrition-our sheep stay healthy and happy all winter.

On the Windfall in Lansing, North Carolina

NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT!

Today we are welcoming On the Windfall in Lansing, North Carolina to the Farm Stay U.S. family.

On the Windfall 1

This 215 acre farm is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. They raise sheep and chickens, grow sunflowers, and are experimenting with a hop yard. Guests can also visit with goats, a donkey, and a wild pony, and enjoy hiking and fishing right on the property. Leaf peeping is another wonderful seasonal activity here.

On the Windfall 2 On the Windfall 3

On the Windfall has three private cottages with lots of amenities. The Barn and The Granpy Aut each sleep 4, and The Granny Mandy sleeps up to 9. The farm welcomes children under 12, weddings, family reunions and other special events.

To learn more and plan a vacation, visit the On the Windfall listing here at Farm Stay U.S.!

(Photos courtesy On the Windfall)

heydenrych-sceneHeydenrych Farms is a 130-acre farm in Canajoharie, New York, 50 miles west of Albany and a four hour drive from New York City. Farmers Magda and Andre Heydenrych moved to Canajoharie from their native South Africa in 2004, with a strong understanding of how they wanted to farm. Magda and Andre raise 100% grass-fed beef and lamb; the sheep and cattle are never given feed, unecessary antibiotics, or growth hormones. The Hydenryches also raise horses, chickens, and one special zebra named Chaka! The animals are all given the opportunity to express themselves in their natural environment. These farming practices earned Heydenrych Farm an Animal Welfare Approval and American Grassfed Certification for beef in 2009.

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In addition to the grass-fed meat, handcrafted, tallow-based soaps are also a Heydenrych Farm specialty. The soap comes in appealing varieties like "Avocado & Strawberry," "Autumn on the Farm," and "Divine Cocoa Butter Vanilla." Magda and Andre have boosted their farm's business by offering their meat and soap for sale by mail in addition to local drop offs.

Heydenrych Farm offers a farm stay in a private, 3-bedroom 1880s farmhouse that sits on its own two acres with a great mountain view. Guests have access to all the house's amenities, including a full kitchen and outdoor grill where guests can prepare the farm's own grass-fed meats and fresh-picked vegetables -- guests are welcome to pick in-season vegetables from the farm's gardens. Many guests also enjoy walking around the nearby pond and helping care for the animals, though helping with chores is optional. Magda will also teach custom soapmaking to interested guests.

Off the farm, there are miles of trails, plus canoeing, golfing, apple picking, and plenty of museums.

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Rates for the farmhouse, which sleeps up to six, are $125/night for two guests, plus $15/night for each additional guest/night. High-speed wireless internet is available for an additional charge.

For more information, visit the Farm Stay U.S. Heydenrych Farms listing or the Heydenrych Farms website.

Photos courtesy Heydenrych Farms.

Stillwaters1Stillwaters Farm, located in Henderson, Tennessee, is 131 acres replete with green pastures, shady wooded areas, small ponds, and grassy hay fields. We spoke with Valeria Pitoni about what makes Stillwaters such a special spot.

Valeria shared with us that although the farm has a "way out" feeling, due to being nestled among approximately 1,000 acres of cropland, wooded areas, and other family farms, it's actually quite close -- only 2 miles -- from the city limits of Henderson. The farm, farm stay, and their animal inhabitants live on the front 25+ acres of the property, while the rest is considered hay fields and natural habitat.Stillwaters2

This "back 100+" acreage is an excellent place for a hike or golf cart ride, and, after being assessed by a semi-local ornithologist, Valeria says they can boast a good population of birds whose species are rated as in-decline. (Bring your binoculars!) Other wildlife in the area are deer and wild turkeys in abundance, an occasional coyote, and once in a great while visitors to the farm may see a red fox, an armadillo, or even otter or bobcats.

When asked what guests typically do when they visit the farm, Valeria said, "while many of our guests arrive with a list as long as their arm, most emerge from the Cottage after a couple of days with hair sticking every which-way, coffee mug in hand, stating -- emphatically -- that they can't remember when they've rested so well!"Stillwaters3

Aside from all that wonderful rest, guests receive "critter tours" to get to know the inhabitants and landscape of the farm, any questions they have are answered, and from that point on, they decide what they'd like to do. Guests are welcome to join in whatever farm activity is happening, whether it be hay season, bringing in the crop, animal feeding and/or grooming, trimming time for horses, gardening, animal babysitting, nature hiking and photography excursions, flower collecting, and much more.

The farm occasionally hosts artist's workshops, where they prepare and paint gourds that are raised on the farm. Off farm activities can include visits to Civil War monuments, such as Shiloh National Battlefield Park, a pearl farm attraction, Casey Jones Village and Museum, a minor league baseball park, and several state parks within an hour's drive. Guests may also enjoy horseback riding, canoeing, visiting the nearby Amish community of Lawrenceburg, or attending events at the West Tennessee State Fairgrounds. The town of Henderson boasts a new day spa, only 4 miles from the farm, where guests can find services like massage, facials, manicures, and pedicures.Stillwaters4

Local food enthusiasts can make their way to the West Tennessee Farmer's Market in Jackson, where dozens of vendors sell a wide variety of produce, grass-fed meats, arts, crafts, and products from Stillwaters Farm. The farm itself also has "The Silo", their very own on-farm store featuring their handcrafted artisan soaps, soy candles, art, photography, and more.

Guests staying at Stillwaters Farm enjoy a free-standing 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1,000 square foot cottage at the leading edge of the farm. It's climate-controlled with central heat and air, and it offers an outdoor lounge area with views of the diverse gardens and pastoral vistas. A private drive leads to the private parking for Cottage guests. Stillwaters6

Inside, Valeria tells us, "the Cottage is furnished in period antiques, albeit touchable antiques, along with a 1917 cast iron claw foot tub for soaking." The bedrooms are spacious and the beds have premium mattresses for guests' comfort. There is a television and DVD/VCR player, along with a small library of videos, and a stereo hidden away in the living room, but there is no satellite, cable, or Wi-Fi service. A small, but eclectic, library is maintained for guests to use.

Stillwaters5Guests self-prepare their meals, and the kitchen is outfitted with all major appliances, cookware, tableware, and flatware necessary. The Cottage is stocked with coffee, soaps, and essentials like cooking oil, salt and pepper, and spices for guests to use, and guests are encouraged to partake of the fresh, in-season produce from the farm's garden.

To learn more, we invite you to visit the Stillwaters Farm listing here on Farm Stay U.S., as well as their website and Facebook page.

(All photos courtesy Stillwaters Farm)

Serenity Sheep Farm is a diverse homestead farm in Montana's Gallatin Valley, with two cozy, antique Sheepherder's wagons restored just for farm stay guests. We recently spoke with shepherdess LaVonne Stucky about her unique farm stay. Here's the scoop:

Serenity Sheep

1. Could you tell us a bit about the setting of your farm?


We are nestled in the heart of the Gallatin Valley, near Bozeman, MT.  Visitors are greeted by mountain ranges on all sides.  We have several well-known rivers in the area and are just a few miles from the Headwaters of the Missouri River.

2. What's your farm's history?


It is part of the original 160 acre homestead my husband's grandfather farmed with horses.  He raised 4 children by himself in a time of no electricity and running water.

 

3. How did you get the idea for your unusual farm stay lodging: two sheepherder's wagons? Do you know of any other farms where guests sleep in wagons?

I know of other wagons for rent, but not in a farm setting.  Having sheep I was always in love with they lifestyle of the shepherds who tended their flock.  There are still many around to this day and they lead a very solitary life.  Serenity and solitude are just the respite many are seeking today, if only for a day or two.  When I saw an ad in the local classified newspaper for a sheepherder's wagon for sale, I waited.  I gave it a week or two.  The ad was still there, so I called and the rest is history.serenity-sheep-wagon Let's just say the inside of the Winona didn't look a thing like it does now!

4. What is a typical day for your farm stay guests?


The stay can be as private or interactive as they'd like.  Quite often they will do the chores with me in the morning and they love interacting with the animals.

5. Aside from your farm, what else do your guests come to do in the area?


We have so many things available in the area, like the Museum of the Rockies, fishing, hiking, biking, hot springs, caverns and lots of other things to see and do.  We have lots of great places to eat in the area and a lot of them specialize in local foods.
serenity-sunset

6. What made you want to work with sheep and fiber?


It was sort of a happy accident.  A friend of mine was raising sheep and 2 of them were born on my birthday.  I got to name them.  Thinking back, I am sure she had this in mind all along, but I wound up buying those 2 girls.  Two sheep led to too many, as I like to say, and here we are.  I call it a hobby run amuck!  So what do you do with all of that fiber?  Marketing it has not been an easy road for me.  Twenty years later I long for a "cult following" of spinners and knitters, but that hasn't happened.  I do have a handful of folks who love my wool and I am grateful to them and for them.  When I discovered needle felting about 10 years ago, I felt like I had finally found the reason I have sheep.  It had come full-circle for me.  Now I wish I only had more time to needle felt!

serenity-sheep-yarn

7. You offer lots of options for folks who want enjoy on your farm ... farm stays, birthday parties, kids' day camps, tea parties, classes. Which of these are your favorite ways to interact with visitors?


Being a new business, most of these are ideas and hints for folks.  I have yet to host a tea party or even a birthday party, but my classes, kid's camp and the overnight guests are beginning to take off.  Sometimes it's frustrating, but then I realize I am right where I need to be right now.  Slow growth is good, really it's best.  If I got too busy too fast I may pull my hair out, but there are no worries  there.  I'd just needle felt myself a wig out of my wool!
Teaching folks about the animals is my favorite thing.  It's typically geared more toward the children, but I find that most of the adults who visit learn quite a bit too.  I love having a farm that's loosely based on the old-fashioned homestead farm.  We have a bit of everything here and it's so much fun to share that with children and adults.  I even hosted what I called a "Grandma Camp".  Instead of kids one week I had two retired ladies.  They had a blast.  It was a gift from one friend to the other for her birthday.  She had flown out from NJ, just across the river from NYC.  She'd never experienced anything like it.

serenity-sheep-snow

8. Anything else you want to add?


In sharing the farm with others, I often hear the adults speak of their Grandparent's farm or their Uncle's farm they went to as a child.  It occurred to me this summer that there's an entire generation, and possibly even two, who will never be able to say those words.  For that I love sharing our farm and keeping it alive.
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For more informations about Serenity Sheep Farm Stay, check out their website (www.serenitysheepfarmstay.com) and their Farm Stay U.S. listing. All photos in this blog are from www.serenitysheepfarmstay.com. Lavonne also has an Etsy shop where she sells her yarn.