. . .The Drapers raise Katahdin sheep which have hair rather than wool. "My husband Jim has raised sheep all of his life. About six years ago, we switched to Katahdin sheep because there wasn't a good market for wool and these sheep just shed their hair in the field, so we didn't have to hire a shearer. It costs a lot to have them shorn, and we couldn't get a good price for the wool," said Ruth Draper. Katahdin sheep are named for the highest mountain in Maine, Mount Katahdin in the Appalachian Mountains.
. . . “Traditional farming has all the animals in the background. All the hard work—feeding, haying and hauling manure—that falls on me. I realized my animals have four legs. They can do a lot of that work themselves. So I let them,” says Draper.
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With freezing temps in the forecast, we pulled the ram lambs from the cover crops to avoid the prussic acid, although it’s not been cold enough so far to kill the sorghum/sudan in the mix. There is also some turnip regrowth I hope to graze again once the freeze is completed. Fall grazing continues to be blessed with ample moisture, and cattle and sheep are grateful, I think.
To that end, we hope our recent cover crop planting will provide for the “little livestock” while feeding the sheep and cattle. We planted a fall grazing blend and a winter grazing blend that will also supply some much-needed early spring grazing. Each planting has 12 or 13 species and, although it has seen no more than a quarter inch of rain, it has emerged. Our annual ethnic holiday lamb sale is sold out already since we switched to spring lambing on pasture for most of our ewes.
Finally, our search for a guard dog to help us with spring pasture lambing has yielded two Anatolian Shepherd 4-month-old pups. We will be going to Joplin, Mo., for them as soon as we can get away. They are a little young to rely too heavily on, but I’m sure they at least know how to bark, and Sherlock and Dakota will hopefully mentor them well.
The Drapers sell lambs "on the hoof" and deliver them to be slaughtered for their customers. They don't use hormones or antibiotics, which is something their customers like. "We have a very ethnically diverse customer base. We sell a lot of our lamb to the Hispanic, Muslim and Greek population. We're on Interstate 80, and people see our sheep and turn off the road to find us," she said.
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