To Sheep or Not To Sheep - An in depth look at farming with grass fed sheep, lamb, raising meat on pasture, and if it is a good idea for someone who is small scale farming or homesteading

Released Monday, 31st August 2015
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A broken lawn mover has led Aust to ponder...should he buy a new ride-on lawnmower? Or pass over a new machine and invest in some sheep to eat the lawn?

Aust pulls out all the stops and brings in Accountant Mike to develop a comprehensive pro/con list to investigate this completely new venture for the homestead. Have you ever thought about the ways lawnmowers are dangerous? And we all know from the last episode the downside of growing useless grass.

Sheep, however, cannot simply be parked in the shed once they're done dining. They require food in the winter, when the lawns of New England are covered in snow, medical attention, and shelter. As opposed to lawnmowers, when they are fully grown, they can be butchered and either sold or served for dinner. There is also the possibility of shearing sheep and selling wool. Do these ventures create a profit that make sheep a good business decision?

Accountant Mike and Aust battle it out: To mow or not to mow? Do the numbers add up in favor of sheep?Find out on Part 1 of this FIRST serialized episode of Homesteady!

Know a lot about lawn mowers, but nothing about sheep? Aust shares his entire conversation with Susan Napotnik about selecting the perfect breed of sheep here on the Pioneer sheep episode. Not a Pioneer? Join here.

P.S.: Did you know Accountant Mike is a reality star?

From the Suburban Escapee:

I began to write an reflection of this episode where I waxed poetic about lawns, livestock, and this episode of Curious George. (Which, yes, is about goats, but it's relevant.) I mean, I'm from the suburbs. Is there anything more suburban than lawnmowers?

The backbone of this episode, however, isn't so much about the topic itself, or the debate of Animal vs. Machine. This is the first time we have Aust step out from behind the curtain of his homestead in a particularly vulnerable position: as a newbie. Despite his success in other areas of his homestead, many of which have been shared on the podcast, Aust is revealing that decisions on the farm aren't made in a vacuum. They are made after hours of research, consulting with experienced mentors, and running numbers about the cost of any new venture vs. any possible revenue.

Decision-making is an art and a science. In my own life, with a family, a job, and multiple interests, needs, and dreams, learning to make decisions has become a necessary skill. A biography of my early adulthood could be called "The Consequences of the Poorly Thought Out Choices."

In trying to reverse that trend, the Country Boy and I have grown more cautious and methodical. After living in the city, we found a town where we could afford enough land (not a farm, just a big yard) to start experimenting with homesteading. After two seasons of growing plants based upon capricious wants (see here for how that turned out), we finally began to do research to inform ourselves on the best possible way to grow the vegetables and plants we want and enjoy. This year, we have purchased a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmshare with two goals in mind: increase the variety of vegetables in our freezer, and meet local farmers to begin the make the relationships that could possibly gain us a few mentors for our homestead journey.

And yet, despite the careful mathematical calculations of profit margins, and scientific research on varieties and methods, and the technical ins and out of any pursuit, there is also that most incalculable of all variables: passion. Regardless of how much logical, financial, or any other type of sense any decision makes, without passion to fuel the effort, I truly believe success is limited.

I believe that passion is what largely fuels this community. Passion for eating whole, fresh food. Passion for the outdoors. Passion for animals, hard work, and being a "maker" as opposed to strictly a consumer. Making smart, well-researched decisions is what allows us to pursue our particular passion in a sustainable, fiscally responsible way.

Rather than listening to this episode and thinking "wow, I should look into livestock," I urge you all to take away the larger message and ask yourself: What is ONE decision I can make to further my passion?

Add to our blog community by sharing that step in the comments!

A special thanks to our partner: RJS Bee Farm. Pioneers get 10% off beekeeping equipment.

Raising chickens? Our sponsor The Power Plucker will make your life easier. Save 20 days of your life you would otherwise spend plucking chickens!

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58m 11s

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