The saying goes, "It takes a village...." And for us I'd change it to, "It takes a community...."
(To raise adorable lambs like this)
This is going to be a thank you to all those who help us out throughout the year, and also a reminder for everyone else with farms (small or large) that making and keeping good relationships with your neighbors can be of immense importance.
Its easy to overlook all the outside inputs to Kyle Farms when you're involved in a day to day basis and it becomes commonplace, but when we stop and think about it, there are very few large projects that aren't done with the help of friends and neighbors.
The entire flock was shorn over the past three weeks, and at one point we had 3 shearing machines running. The weather however was not as organized as we were. In order to shear a dry flock in a dry location, a neighbor graciously let us use an empty barn adjacent to the pastures where the unshorn sheep were, saving us from having to haul the sheep to one of our barns or shearing outside in the rain. In order to run three shearing machines, electricity had to be provided in the form of generators. Being a relatively low input sheep farm we had no generators, and were able to borrow THREE generators from various local farms to power the shearing machines, wool baler, and various other electric equipment (lights, etc). Just thinking back on that, I can't imagine how difficult it would have been to haul the ewes, load by load, to the shearing barn, and then back after being shorn to the pasture. And the amount of fuel used by the generators....much less than the amount used by the farm truck to haul heavy trailer loads of sheep back and forth all weekend.
To shear the sheep efficiently and quickly requires atleast 2-3 shearers and we are lucky to know many excellent shearers who are willing to come shear for us. However, when running three shearing machines it triples the amount of work for whoever is assisting. In our case, ATLEAST 2-3 people are needed to help keep up with the shearers. Someone to haul sheep to the shearers, someone to sweep up the wool and do some basic skirting, and someone to run the wool baler. So if one person falls sick, or is unable to work, it can really throw a wrench in things.
This is where the community really steps in. The Saturday shearing goes great, they shear all day and get a good part of the flock done. Sunday, a shearer and an assistant are unable to work, and after a few quick calls around, a visiting farmer who shears and some friends of the farm show up to get the shearing done.
Sure it takes a bit longer, and for a farm with only a few employees to have everyone and their friends shearing or helping shear until 8 at night means everything else falls to the wayside until afterwards, but without those friends and neighbors, we'd have still been shearing Monday. The same goes for our relationship with local farms. Without their help we wouldn't have had generators or barn to shear in the most convenient and least stressful spot.
I could go on and on about the multitude of times Kyle Farms Saturday and Sunday projects have benefited from our friends and neighbors help and availability. Whether it be while vaccinating and processing lambs, or fixing the water pump for a barn full of pregnant ewes in July (and providing the portable water tank to supply them with water until it could be fixed). This spring time we would like to thank the community for their help and friendship.
End of long ramble
Summary: Make and keep good relationships with your local farms and neighbors. You never know when you might need their help or they might need yours.
Posted by Anne
@ 03:47 PM EDT