February is the shortest month of the year but yet seems like it goes on and on forever. It's been another wet month. It makes me wonder will we ever dry out. The fields are wet, the ditches are full as is the pond. There is just no place for the water to go. It makes preparing for planting a very difficult task.
In keeping with sharing farm and family history, Linda has written the following about the Legares and sheep. It's a little long but a great story.
Sheep have been a part of life on our farm off and on for several hundred years. While there were always sheep, my great-grandfather, Thomas (known as Pa) apparently really loved them. As a young man he moved out west to raise sheep as he had heard it was the perfect climate for them. I can’t remember where it was now but either Montana or Wyoming. I have been there and it is absolutely gorgeous in the summer. What I can’t understand is why a man raised in the Carolina Lowcountry would EVER want to go some place where the snow gets 10 feet deep in the winter. Obviously it didn’t work out too well for him. The first winter there was a blizzard and all of the sheep froze to death. After that he gave up and came home but he never gave up on the sheep
My grandfather, Vardell, really hated sheep. After his father’s death he wanted to get rid of the sheep but his mother wouldn’t let him. The week after she died he loaded all of them on a truck and hauled them off to market. That was the last time there were sheep on this farm for 65 years.
Daddy didn’t like them either. He said they were stupid. But the main thing that neither he nor Grandpa liked about them, was a nasty little varmint called the screwworm. Screwworms are a type of fly, twice the size of a housefly. They lay their eggs (as many as 400-800) in any open wound or sore on an animal, including small nicks or scratches. The eggs then hatch and the worms eat their way out of the animal leaving a huge sore. They can be a problem with any animal but are especially nasty with sheep. Due to the heavy wool coats on sheep these sores are concealed until shearing time. By then the animal can be in serious trouble. Fortunately screwworms have been eradicated in the US since 1966.
In 2004 when we decided to start doing agritourism, we decided that we needed some sheep. My brother Thomas had a high school friend who had been raising a few as pets. We purchased 4 ewes and a ram. The breed was called Jacob’s sheep. They are a black and white sheep with 2 to 6 horns. Many breeds of sheep do not have horns but these do. According to legend they are descended from the sheep that Jacob tricked his father-in–law out of.
For those of you who don’t remember your Bible stories, it was in the book of Genesis, chapters 27-31. To briefly synopsize; Jacob stole his brother’s birthright. To avoid his brother’s justifiable wrath he fled to Canaan, to his Uncle Laban. There he fell in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel and agreed to work for his uncle for 7 years in return for her hand in marriage. When the seven years was up he went through a marriage ceremony only to find he was married to her older sister Leah. Laban told him that the older sister had to marry first, but that he could also marry Rachel if he agreed to work for another 7 years. After the second 7 years was up Jacob wanted to go home but Laban persuaded him to stay by offering him wages to work longer. His wages were to be all of the spotted sheep, goats and cows. These were considered to be the inferior, less desirable ones. Being very good at animal husbandry, he was able to breed the animals to where the spotted ones became the healthiest, best animals in the herd, and also the most numerous.
INJURY AND ILLNESS
We’ve had a number of adventures over the years with these sheep. We hadn’t had them a month when Thomas’s dog attacked them and injured one of the ewes. My friend Kathleen and I went to the local feed store and got antibiotics and a staple gun to close the wounds. We cleaned and stapled the wounds and gave her a shot of antibiotic. We watched her very carefully for several days and thought she was getting better. Then all of a sudden she dropped dead. That’s when I realized that I really don’t know much about sheep and I got a book and started to study them.
CRAZINESS AND CO-OPERATION
Our next adventure came when we needed them in their pens to show a group of school children the next day. They normally came to the pen every afternoon to be fed, but that day they wouldn’t cooperate. They were all the way at the other end of the farm and all of our employees had gone home already. Being, somewhat lazy, I don’t particularly like to walk. Unfortunately the sheep decided that they weren’t going to be herded by a truck so the only way to get them to the pen was to walk them there. There we were, Helen, Thomas, Sarah and I walking 4 sheep over a mile to their pen.
As we were walking along, Thomas suddenly said “ Shh! I hear something.”
We all stopped to listen and I responded “What? I don’t hear anything.”
“It sounds like laughter. It’s coming from up there.” He said pointing straight up. “Wait. I know what it is. It’s Daddy looking down from heaven and saying “I told those damn fool children not to raise sheep.”
After that, things with the sheep went smoothly for a while until Adam our ram went nuts. I eventually found out that rams get aggressive and meaner the older they get. I have since noticed that every ram we have had has gotten very aggressive after about 2 years. I don’t know how old Adam was when we got him but he was fine for about the first 3 years. Then he got mean and started butting. His horns were about 4 inches in diameter at the base and hard as a granite boulder. The only one who wasn’t afraid of him was Josefina, one of our employees. She was 6 months pregnant at the time and would go in the pen with him without batting an eye. I was terrified when I found out what she was doing, until I actually saw her with him. He charged at her and she stepped to one side, grabbed him by the horns and threw him down on his back. Everyone else however was in trouble.
He got my husband Eddie and several other people before he got Thomas. But when he finally hit Thomas, he got him good. It was so bad that he had to go to the doctor. That’s pretty bad, because Thomas doesn’t go to doctors as a rule. He hit him on the side of his hip and pretty much put him out of commission for several days. I had been telling Thomas for weeks that Adam needed to go but he wouldn’t listen, until then. As soon as Thomas could walk without limping he put Adam in the truck and took him to Orangeburg to the stockyard.
ANIMALS AND THE BIBLE
All of these years of keeping sheep and reading about them have made me pay a lot more attention to mentions of sheep in the Bible. A Sunday school lesson several years ago dissected the 23rd psalm verse by verse. “He leadeth me beside the still waters” was discussed and the teacher told us that sheep do not like running water and will not cross it. I found this out the hard way one day when a pipe broke in the animal barnyard. I had gone to let the sheep and goats out of their nighttime pens into the pasture so that they could graze, and discovered the broken pipe. It had been flowing for several hours on a slight downhill slope right across the main gate to the corral. The force of the water had cut a channel 6 inches deep and a foot wide the entire width of the gate. I let the goats out first and they ran right across it and into the pasture. When I let the sheep out they ran right up to it and stopped. They were obviously panicked and couldn’t seem to figure out what to do. Two of them finally jumped very high over the water and got out. The others just got more and more agitated. Finally the ram turned and ran the other way. He hit the board fence with a loud crack, backed up and hit it again and again until it finally shattered. He then led the rest of his frightened flock through the hole he had made and ran away as fast as he could go. I was fascinated to see this behavior in person although rather annoyed about the mess he had made of the fence.
ANIMALS AND WEATHER
I have heard stories over the years about horses getting struck by lightning while standing out in a pasture but we had never had it happen to an animal on our farm. Several years ago this changed. We had had a very bad year for storms and lightening on the farm. We lost a fax machine, a credit card machine and the modem on the computer in early May. Then a week later Helen’s house caught on fire. We figured out later that the lightening storm the week before had hit the underground gas line and traveled through it coming out at the weakest spot right under the house. The gas had been slowly seeping out through this hole and building up under the house which is 12 feet up in the air. It had been building up for a week and something sparked and caused a small explosion about 6am on a Saturday. The explosion woke Helen and Rick up but they weren’t sure what had happened. They were sitting on the side of the bed talking and watching a baby fox playing with its mother in the front yard when they saw smoke coming out from under the house. It took them a few minutes to determine where it was coming from and to find the fire extinguishers and put it out.
It had sparked and started burning right where the gas, electric and phone lines went into the house. By the time they found it and got the fire out it had burned through all of the lines. They camped out in the house without power or the phone for a week until it was finally repaired.
Three weeks later after another bad storm, a neighbor called and said we had 3 dead sheep by the side of the road. Sarah and I went racing off and sure enough 3 of the sheep were lying under a tree dead. Apparently they were victims of lightening. We called Helen to tell her and her response was “Can’t talk now. My house is on fire.”
Sarah and I rushed to her house to discover that the same thing had happened again in the same exact place even though the gas piping had been repaired with improved pipe. They got the fire out and called the fire department. to come check things out. The power and phone lines weren’t burned that time but a foot long section of one of the main support beams was charred.
I guess that just disproves the old Saying about “lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place.”
Some fun things about sheep:
- The life expectancy of sheep is similar to large breeds of dogs, about 10 to 12 years. Some breeds are known for being longer-lived, e.g. Merino. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest sheep lived to be 23. She was a Merino.
- It is difficult to know how many breeds of sheep there are in the world, as only developed countries usually maintain breed registries. However, it is believed that there are more breeds of sheep than breeds of any other livestock species, with the exception of poultry. Worldwide, it is estimated that there are more than 1000 distinct sheep breeds. There are more than 50 breeds in the United States alone.
- Sheep belong to the ruminant classification of animals. Ruminants are characterized by their four-chambered stomach and "cud-chewing" behavior. Cud is a food bolus that is regurgitated, rechewed, and reswallowed.
- Mostly sheep eat grass, clover, forbs, and other pasture plants. When fresh forage is not available, sheep are usually fed stored or harvested feeds: hay, silage, green chop, or crop by-products. Hay is grass that has been mowed (cut) and cured (dried) for use as livestock feed.
- Sheep have many natural predators: coyotes, wolves, foxes, bears, dogs, eagles, bobcats, mountain lions, etc. Sheep are vulnerable to predators because they are basically defenseless and have no means of protecting themselves. Sheep run when something frightens them. Their only protection is to stay together in a group.
March 20th Kids Fair
March 25th and 26th Rent A Chick pickup
April 8th and 9th Rent A Chick pickup
April 10th Finger Lickin Chicken Wing Fling Thing
May 12th Wine Tasting and Food Pairing at Pickled Palate
May Big Red Barn Festival
June 13-17 Summer Camp 6-8 year olds
June 20-24 Summer Camp 9-11 year olds
July 11-15 Summer Camp 6-8 year olds
July 18-22 Summer Camp 9-11 year olds
Feature of the Month
Rent A Chick We're taking reservations for the Rent A Chick program now. You get 2 baby chicks for 2 weeks along with feed for the 2 weeks, a box for them to live, and instructions on their care. After the 2 weeks they come back to the farm to live with the other chickens.The cost is just $25. Here's the link to reserve your chicks http://legarefarms.com/pages/rent-a-chick.
Special of the Month
Ground Beef is the Special of the Month. Ground beef is normally $6/lb. but is on SALE for $5/lb. through March. It's a good time to stock up. You can come by the farm on Saturday mornings 9 till noon or call and we'll meet you. You can also come by a CSA vegetable drop to purchase meat. We're on James Island on Tuesdays at the Pour House on Maybank Hwy 4:30-6:00, Trident Tech on Wednesdays 3:30 till 4:15, West Ashley also on Wednesdays at the Food Lion parking lot by Costco 4:45 till 6:00, and Mt Pleasant on Thursdays 4:30 till 6:00 at the Pickled Palate on Hibben Street.
Recipe of the Month
I love meatloaf and it's one of the few things I can cook. My favorite thing is to have left over meatloaf for sandwiches. This recipe is really easy and quick. Hope you enjoy it.
1 lb. Legare Farms ground beef
1 package Liptons Onion Soup mix
2 slices bread crumbled (crackers or corn flakes can be substituted)
4 dashes of ketchup
2 dashes of Worcestire sauce
Combine all ingredients mixing well. Put in greased medium size baking dish forming a loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until done.
Email or call the office if you have questions or need information.
2620 Hanscombe Pt Rd
Johns Island, SC 29455