Learn by Trying
I am not afraid to try. This short sentence sums up how I have come to learn just about everything I have so far in homesteading. I experiment in the garden, telling myself it's not the end of the world if a crop doesn't work out. I owe it to my animals to learn all I can about their health and care and so I ask questions to my veterinarians and mentors. I taught myself to drive my Clydesdales by asking questions to folks who do, by skeptically watching hours of videos, and by following the lead of my horse who already knew how. It's through being present, observation, and just plain trying that I think a homesteader truly grows.
It has taken me a long time to find a sheep veterinarian to come to the farm. A lack thereof has made it nearly impossible to get the girls the routine exams and the vaccinations they need. Today, after finally finding someone who had time to take me on as a client, the girls are up to speed. This two-hour veterinarian appointment gave me a major crash course in sheep health. I learned several home remedies that scientifically work, I was taught to give vaccinations (I never knew how before!) and even vaccinated my own sheep under the supervision of my vet by the end of the appointment. When she had initially asked if I would like to learn I answered, "I would love to! I'm not afraid to try."
Unfortunately and fortunately, I learned to treat and bandage a bad hoof. My girls passed their Famacha exams with flying colors! And I was able to share my belief and offer Finnegan as proof that interspecies pasture rotation really does cut down on parasitic worms.
I think the vet could tell I was internally beating myself up a bit about the hoof infection; she consoled me by saying that many farms are struggling right now with the excess rainfall and moisture we've had in our area this winter. And acknowledged how difficult it is to get an appointment around here. It makes me all the more thankful I have my horses in pads and four shoes each, as surely abscesses would be present otherwise! When she asked if I would be comfortable continuing the care of the bandaged foot on my own, or if she should come back instead, I answered, "I'll try and I'll do my best! I can send you photos."
I'm processing all the information I received, grateful to have found a sheep vet who took so much time for my girls and taught me so much. She was incredibly encouraging. I believe that learning through books and videos is a great way to gain insight; but there's nothing like a bit of time spent with a good mentor. I've now looked to experienced folks for assistance with horse training, care, sheep medicine, duck health, and beekeeping. Don't be afraid to find someone to help you! Most people in the homesteading and farming fields are happy to share their insight with a learning farmer. And when the opportunities come, don't be afraid to try.
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Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
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