Posts Tagged With: sheep

Bent Oak Flock

I have not reported to myself in awhile. Not that anything has not been happening around here. But the biggest news, I want to record here and remember. I am collecting Gulf Coast Native sheep. We are up to eleven now.

I wrote about James and John joining us here on the farm.They weren’t named yet and that took some time to find the right names, but a friend suggested the Apostles as a naming scheme and as the bottle babies were twins, I decided that James and John would work great. The day they arrived how tiny and helpless they were.


James & John on the ride home. So tiny.

Then came the call of another orphan baby girl. Of course, we would jump in the truck and head to Bryan (an hour away) at 9pm on a Sunday night to pick her up. She was without a mother probably most of the day and didn’t have anything to eat. So warm bottle in the truck, we headed out and went and picked up my little precious one. My sweetheart. My heartbeat. My warm hug, My warm kiss. My …. In case, you can’t guess I love my Sarah. I named her Sarah in hopes that she will one day be the mother of a little nation of lambs.


Sarah’s first night. She got to stay in the house as it as cold out.

Then I found two more boys to add the farm. Mark went to pick them up one day and brought them back getting home just after dark. They were not sure they were happy at all with a new home and new people. Especially, not being around people too much. But they soon made friends with James and John and since they came together they became Peter and Andrew.


Peter, Andrew, James, and John

So we were up to five lambs and Mark was out checking on lambs ready to go to new homes. He was bitten by the bug. Now I was already in line to get more from where the orphans all came, but Mark decided we needed twelve. Who was I to argue? So not long after we were headed to another farm to pick out four girls to bring back. That was an adventure of running my hand through lots of wooly backs and picking the softest ones. Yes, my husband may be thinking leg of lamb sounds good but his wife though loving lamb as well was mainly thinking in terms of wool. So four more girls came home with us. They were named continuing on from Sarah to Isaac and Jacob’s wives. Then added Hannah in for good measure.

I might add that at this point, he also made a cage to fit in the back of the truck for hauling lambs and about anything else that will fit.


Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and Hannah in back

Exciting we were up to nine lambs now. Then, it was finally a good day to go and pick up two more girls from the farm where I got the bottle babies from. So east we headed again and what lovely girls we picked up. They are the oldest of all we have as they were born in December so larger, more self assured, and just downright lovely to look upon. Alas though, this must be becoming too common as I do not have a first day picture of them. Why didn’t I?


Naomi and Ruth. Really thought I had great pictures of them but must go try again.

So now there are eleven and one more to come. We have a ram reserved until he is weaned. Then one more trip to pick up a baby and we will be set … for now. They are so much fun. “They” say chickens are the gateway animal to a farm, and though I do love my chickens would affirm that statement, lambs are the heartbeat of my farm. I still love my eggs but oh, to sit out with lambs is a far greater joy.

I did just check and do not have a picture of all eleven together. Guess it is time to head out again with the camera. Aren’t we thankful for digital cameras today. I’d hate to know how much film I would be using up right now or how many awesome shots I would have missed by not just snapping all the time.

I am working on good pictures of each one for the sole purpose of learning their individual characteristics so that when someone asks who is who, I don’t have to check ear tags to remember. Not all have them have tags, but boy I am glad the ones that do have them. Thankfully, they are the ones that look the most alike.

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Fiber, Gulf Coast Native Sheep | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

I’m Joining My Ancestors

I come from a long line of farmers. From about any angle as you travel back in my personal history there are farmers. Did I say I come from farming stock? There were a few who didn’t get the memo that they were suppose to be farmers but considering most of my ancestry has been in the States since the 1700s and before and didn’t live in cities, the given is that they were the farmers that they were.


Last summer in my little world

Now I live on my own little piece of land and we are building our own little world on it. I often consider what I have and what they had and the agriculture census’ from the 19th century are interesting to compare what we each have. Of course, they had more land than we do, and had crops that we don’t, but I do like seeing where we cross over and this week I even added to our similarities.

Looking at the 1850 agriculture census for Jasper County, Illinois – horses, milch cows, other cattle, sheep, swine are the common animals. With some oxen thrown in here and there. Well, we own one horse and have our third foster looking for a forever home. We don’t have a milch cow, and I believe that would be too much milk even for me to make and use in butter, cheese, etc. The other cattle is taken care of. We have the five heifers still and hopefully four will go to market soon and one will be in the freezer. I doubt the swine will ever come into play but you never know.


First page of an 1870 agricultural census entry for Hidalgo, Crooked Creek, Jasper County, Illinois

The early agriculture census didn’t include chickens but by the 1880 agriculture census poultry is included as well as how many eggs you got by the dozen over the last year. And yes, everyone has their poultry. So I can claim to have joined the poultry crowd. I’m sure the earlier dates they all had them as well but for some reason whoever set up the categories of the agricultural census didn’t think they were important. I wonder if they were so ubiquitous that it would be easier to see who didn’t have a dozen chickens than who did.

But did you notice that I missed one of the animals up above? My 3 great grandfather John Cummins had 18 of them in 1850, 7 in 1860. Eliphaz Brooks had 14 in 1850. James Carr had 22 in 1870. Reuben Carr had 43 in 1860 and 25 in 1870. Montraville Washington Utley had 10 in 1870 (and yes that was a common name in the family and I wonder where it came from) 10 in 1870. And lastly Jonathan Cowger had 10 in 1870.

So last Saturday evening I got a message from a friend that has Gulf Coast Native Sheep and she had twin boys whose mother had died. Did I want to take on two bottle babies? Can you guess how long it took for my heart to start racing and going ballistic at the possibility?

After talking with Mark and lots of messages back and forth, I went and picked up two sweet boys to add to the farm.


All packed up to head to our new home

We made the run on Monday to pick them up and they have been so much fun. Quite entertaining and boy do they love feeding time.


It is a lovely day

Now they have a whole new world to explore, and I get to join my ancestors who also had sheep. Can’t wait to see what the future holds. And the poor boys are still waiting on names. Their new mother is very particular about names and so they are still just The Boys.


What is this?

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Fiber | Tags: | 4 Comments

Fun with Family History Again – Sheep

Philip Clark's (4 great grandfather) 1860 agriculture census with his 18 sheep and 25 lbs. of wool.

Philip Clark (4 great grandfather), on row 5 of the 1860 agriculture census with his 18 sheep and 25 lbs. of wool.

I discovered that has the 1850 – 1880 agriculture census’ for Illinois. Too excited to see what all my farmer ancestors actually did, I have wasted a lot of time sitting here over the past week. When one thinks of farming, one tends to think more of crops. In my case anyway. But alas there is so much more to traditional farming centuries ago. One didn’t specialize like they do today. They did the gamut. I actually believe more of my people tended to be subsistence farmers as opposed to being out to see how rich they could get.

It was rather amazing to see all that these families did have their hands in. My 4 great grandfather, John Cummins, (son of Daniel Cummins of the Cummins Historical Note entry) was farming in Jasper County, Illinois in 1850 and here is what it says about his farm. The dollar numbers were current value. The bushels and pounds are what was raised in 1849.

50 acres improved
110 acres unimproved
$800 cash value of farm
$50 value of farming implements and machinery
4 horses
3 milch cows
2 other cattle
18 sheep
25 swine
$235 value of livestock
600 bushels of indian corn
100 bushels of oats
5 bushel of Irish potatoes
75 lbs. of butter
$15 value of homemade manufacture
$25 value of animals slaughtered for personal use or sale

So can you guess which of those lines attracts me the most? Yes, it is the 18 sheep. I was amazed at how many had sheep. It seems most did in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census but few in the 1880. I really would love to know what was happening to influence this. Were they taking care of personal needs if only enough wool to knit socks, mittens, and hats? Did they know going west that they would need to supply more clothing needs for themselves? Were they actually selling the wool off? Most seem so little to make it worth to sell. I did find a reference once (and can I shoot myself for not keeping a record of it) that there was a carding mill in Greenup during the 19th century. Next county north but most of my people lived on the north side of Jasper County.

So the gears have been churning and I have a theory on part of it but need a way to test it now. In the 1850s, Illinois was still fairly frontier and we are talking about a part of it that isn’t near major cities. It is just off the National Road though so there would be traffic passing by just a few miles north. I can see the need to have more to supply for yourself. More self-sufficiency needed at this time. But by 1860 we are more settled but still quite a few sheep around. Then 1870 still quite a few. Now theory. During the Civil War cloth becomes precious on both sides of the war. In the South, as the blockade didn’t allow any in except by blockade runners and there were very very few mills in the South. So cloth became incredibly precious. On the flip side though this also hurt the North. With the blockade, the Northern mills weren’t getting any cotton from the South and many were closed before the war was over. So there was a cloth shortage in the North as well. Not as drastic as the South but still. Could they be helping themselves out in this time of more need and less for sale?

Greenup Moore Wilson 1880 agriculture census. 5 sheep, 5 lambs dropped, 5 sold living, 1 died of disease.

Greenup Moore Wilson 1880 agriculture census. 5 sheep, 5 lambs dropped, 5 sold living, 1 died of disease.

Side notes besides the sheep. Almost everyone had an enormous amount of butter they made. I hope these women had a good book to read while churning away. Or maybe it was a good chance to sit and relax though the arms would get tired. Also it would seem to me that they would sell the large amounts of corn and oats but everyone’s potatoes seem so little that I would think that they kept them for themselves. Interesting how Irish potatoes become larger in quantity over time and sweet potatoes fewer. I would think these sweet potatoes were the white ones I’ve just learned about and actually like. Not the yams that so many call sweet potatoes today and I really don’t like. The idea of potatoes being that sweet is just wrong.


Categories: Tidbits | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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