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Everyone has different icons around their homes that are just part of the canvas of their lives.  Here at Shepherd's Ridge we have several.  One of these is the "Chicken Thermometer".  This is a regular old red arrow type thermometer.  You have to be with in four feet to read it. There are no batteries to die, no remote reading it and it just looks like a farm thermometer.  This piece of functional art work is mounted on a post on the north side of the milk parlor.  When you go out the door it's there to let you know only  one thing, whats the temperature this min.  It does not give any other information.  No forecast, no headlines and no stock quotes.  This functional simplicity is a touch stone for me here.  I love looking at something and not having to interpret what I'm seeing.  It's the temp!  Nothing more needs be said!  That was then.  This is now, when Jay, the guy that works with us pointed out that what I am really seeing is the manly meter.  When you look and see minus 22, you are really looking at affirmation of "manliness".  You go out the door and say "yes, (fill in the name) couldn't hang doing chores with numbers like this".  Out you go and tackle the essentials


Life on the Ridge

It's the first of Feb. and time for a note.  We start lambing in 4 weeks, which in farm time is about half an hour or so.  We expect about 120 to 150 lambs.  Preparation started already as the time flies by and the next thing you know is they are hitting the ground faster that you can get set up.  Yes if that sounds like the voice of experience you are correct.  The odd thing is every year we vow "this time we will be ready early.  Hmmm we'll see". 
Had a visit from the state inspector and that went well.  Just a few admin things to attend to and all should be ready to go. 
This week will be getting the lambing area ready.  We are going to try an enclosed heated area for moms and lambs.  This will be a new level of management skills.
The four cheese lines from last year are doing well in the market.  We expect to add a Tomme style cheese this year.  That would bring the line to 5 cheeses.  Please send any ideas for undeserved markets.  We are always looking for ideas. 
Jadie, the 4 year old grand daughter is patiently waiting for one of the barn cats to have her kittens.  The cat could not be bigger and Jadie is about crazy waiting to see kittens.  Currently she is working on names for all of them.  She is abit concerned about having enough names on hand.....
Jay the guy that works for us got the snow blower back together.  We have waited on parts for weeks and now it all works again.  Most winters we don't need a blower. 
The weather turned cold again.  Was getting use to balmy 20's.  I know that we live in Northwest Wisconsin and this is what we do here is tolerate just about anything!!!!  Still the macho in me is willing to "tolerate" warm weather in winter. 
Going to start getting out the flats for  starting the tomatoes etc.  We will be doing raised beds this year for the tomatos, peppers, herbs etc.  We plan on starting some fruit trees as well. 
Hope all is well with you out there. Drop a note if you can and let us hear what is up in your neck of the woods.
Jeff and Vicky 


The new season here at Shepherd's Ridge Creamery started today!!!

To every season,,,,  We are a seasonal farm operation.  We try as much as possible to work with nature and the seasons not trying to try to make the operation work in spite of the seasons.  Our milking season started today.  We didn't start milking but the prep work started in earnest.  The list of things needed to be done before starting milking and making cheese has been put together and the checking off has started.  The flip side of that is additions to a list thought to be exhaustive in scope and depth has started as well.  The lanes that the sheep are moved through for milking are up and modified from notes taken last year of things that would increase efficiency.  Today we ran the sheep through the lanes and made notes for changes.  The sheep got their booster CD and T shots today.  They did OK for not have been through the milk parlor in 4 months.  Body condition, hooves ear tags all given the once over.  The parlor was cleaned and again notes taken of things to be done.  It's winter, our down time and a chance to recharge for the coming season.