Brownie is a registered American Boer Goat. Last May 2014, she kidded for the first time and dropped three girls! Two paints and one traditional mantle. March 2015, she dropped a pair on lovely boys, one paint and one traditional mantle. On St. Patrick’s Day 2016, she kidded fraternal twins, both with special paint markings along with traditional mantel.
These little guys are Soay Sheep. They are an old world sheep (more primitive genes) from the island of Soay off the coast of Scotland. These special animals are believed to have been put on the island many hundreds of years ago by Norse Vikings and the term “Soay” in the word for Sheep in ancient Norse.
In the fall of 2014 we butchered out wethers (castrated males). After more research and talking to local breeders, we are taking a break from Soay and looking into some more traditional breeds which will be more docile and handleable.
Leafhopper Farm has favored old world sheep because of their strong constitution and browsing habits. Most old world breeds shed their own wool and are less susceptible to disease and parasites. However, some old world breeds are a little bit too wild. Our next flock taught so much about learning a breed and starting small.
We tried out a herd of Black Bellied Barbados sheep. They are much larger then the Soay and very skittish. These sheep can jump over six feet from a standstill. Needless to say our electric mesh fencing did little to stop the big ram from wandering. At one point in early July, the entire flock escaped for two weeks and ran amuck in the surrounding countryside. It was truly frustrating! Luckily we got them back.
In November 2014, twin boys were born, but mom abandoned one and the other began jumping out like Dad. We harvested the ram because he kept getting out. However, in taking out the big male with horns, we took away the flock’s main protection and soon, the little boy who kept getting out disappeared. Predation soon brought the flock down to two ewes. A trail cam revealed a bobcat who was stalking the edge of our field. We are now preparing to butcher the last sheep and will never again purchase Barbs for Leafhopper Farm.
Since the winter of 2016, we’ve been resting the land and watching what new grasslands come up after a couple of years of sheep grazing. Leafhopper Farm will host sheep again within another year, as the grasslands of the farm are so rich and capable of supporting multiple grazers. We are looking at new world breeds, the modern “white fleece” sheep popular today for their wool and subdued, domestic nature.
Two Ayem Cimani roosters guard a mixed flock of about 20 laying hens. Leafhopper Farm has begun incubating and hatching our own birds and will continue working towards a self sustaining flock.
The chickens are thriving, eating organic grain and enjoying pasture life. They also get home grown mealworm supplements from time to time, adding even more dense nutrients to their golden yellow, thick yolks. Many who have enjoyed Leafhopper Farm eggs say they have the thickest yolks around. That speaks volumes to the health of these birds. As the flock grows, we’ll keep enhancing coops space, pasture, and our genetics through careful selection and design.
Breeds of hens include: Buff Orpington, Americana, Delaware, Speckled Sussex, Plymouth Bard-rock, and Rhod Island Red. The future flock will consist of Ayam Cimani hybrid birds. All other roosters are being culled to develop our own chicken from controlled stock.
Berkshire pigs are a heritage breed from England. They are more docile and smaller than the big industrial meat pigs you see in feeder farms. The Berkshires will be raised on pasture, enjoying a more natural diet on top of the organic feed. We’ll track weight gain through the months. Spring of 2016 is our first experiment with this tilling machine. May the fields get a good turn, allowing us to reseed and reset the land to better steward a more diverse landscape of plants and animals.
The Berkshire Guilts are working the land with gusto! We’re loving their strong snouts and sure backs as they push soil and root to get at yummy bugs and grubs.
Indo is a pet, not a stock dog or guardian livestock animal, though she is very good at letting us know when something is amiss on the farm. She is excellent with the livestock and very gentle with baby animals.