A lot of people already consider me a rancher. But other ranchers would have said I still have a ways to go. Well, I think I've taken large strides in to reach rancher status in the past month. Here's how...
First, I've encouraged my son to show a lamb at fair next year with his Creston 4H group. That was a big step for both of us because we both know that basically means raising an animal that will be eaten at the end of the project. Neither of us would have done that in the past, but we're ready for it now.
Secondly, because we're going a different direction with our sheep herd, we're getting rid of a lot of our existing sheep and bringing in some higher-grade ewe's. I've already found a good home for six of my wethers and my ram--not an easy feat considering most people think that wethers are useless money eaters. And I'm still trying to find good homes for at least six to eight more of my sheep--mostly ewe's that are "heavy" which means they like people. My goal is to cut my herd back to about six of my existing sheep before bringing in the new ewe's in October or so.
In changing the way my herd is configured, I've picked the brains of some of the top sheep breeders in the area, and have had the pleasure of meeting several nice people, including a very helpful woman in Templeton who is the 4H leader for the Santa Lucia group. She's been instrumental in teaching me what to look for when choosing my new sheep, and helping me purchase three new ewe's that will be bred to some nice rams before coming to live on my ranch.
That leads me to the third, and probably most shocking of my new rancher-like thinking--I'm actually going to allow my husband to choose and butcher one of the four market lambs we have on the ranch. I've never been able to raise and eat one of my own animals before, but I'm finally to the point I can do that. We've been raising two pigs that will get butchered this month; two cattle that will be butchered by the end of the year; and now, one lamb that will be butchered this month as well.
So, in raising and eating my own animals, I think I've finally reached rancher status. What do you think?