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Why Every Farm Needs Goats Part 1

Joel and I have lived on our farm for five years. Before that when we were in the reading, researching and dreaming phase I was obsessed with dairy goats. Anyone that knows me even a tiny bit probably knows about my deep and unyielding love of cheese.

There is an often quoted saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin, ” Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” In all reality this is a condensed version of a paragraph Ben wrote in a letter that was actually about wine. Personally, I think he was just to drunk to actually remember he was talking about cheese. Cheese is just delightful, and really does seem to be proof that at least dairy goats love us and want us to be happy.

So why, given my overpowering cheese lust did we wait five years to start milking goats? I knew I wanted to make cheese but I also knew our animals needed to be working to pay our bills. Wisconsin has some of the most draconian cheese laws and one can not simply build a commercial kitchen and start making cheese. So, I put the brakes on my dreams of goats.

Half of our 40 acre property is overgrown woods. The first few years we spent building pasture fences (a task that never ends) in the obvious pasture worthy parts of the farm. As our poultry, sheep and pig herds and flocks grew bigger we began to think seriously about the woods. Joel has been wanting to clean up and restore the woods to Oak savanna  (as it historically was) since we moved in, but it’s a huge project and it always seemed we had to many irons in the fire to get started on this important and time consuming project.


In 2014 we decided to get serious about restoring the woods. We knew we wanted to take out the invasives like Buckthorn and keep the trees with food value to livestock and wildlife such as oaks, bitternut hickory, shagbark hickory, black walnut, and mulberries. Some people don’t like mulberries because they are not native, but their leaves are very high in protein, everything loves to eat their berries (myself included!) and they provide shade in the pastures, so they are quite welcome on our farm.


We started building the first one acre pasture in the woods. We bought five goats and in the spring of 2015 put those goats and pigs into the wooded pasture. It was pretty obvious in the first few weeks that we needed more goats. The best goats for brush clearing are wethers,  (neutered males, does currently in milk can damage their udders on things like raspberry brambles, which goats love to eat).


I made my case to Joel, if we want/need more goats we should get some does currently in milk, then in a few months we could re-breed them, and by next spring we would have more wethers for the woods, and almost the whole time I would have delicious milk to be made into cheese.

So, that is what we did! In subsequent blog entries I will show how the goats are working for us by

1. Making milk (cheese, soap)


2. Clearing the woods of invasives without the use of pesticides, or poisons all the while feeding themselves and having a great time.


3. How the does in milk are helping with the weeds in the sheep pasture.

4. The differences between sheep and goats, why I love them both, and why we need them both.


Breeding Groups for 2015 Lambs

Sheltering Pines Bug – Bug is my favorite ram hands down. He is friendly, moorit, has a great fleece, scurred,
tends to throw friendly offspring, has great legs, and scurred.


1. Under the Son Senja- Senja is a black sheep, with very nice confirmation and very dense wool. I am hoping Bug can improve the crimp and fineness in her fleece. She is quite friendly. Black lambs likely.

2. Emancipation Inara- Inara is a favorite of mine. She is a Snowflake daughter who always produced lovely lmbs for us. She is a fawn katmoget from our first ever breeding. She is friendly, with lovely fleece and confirmation. Her ram lamb from this year is still for sale. Last year we put her with Bug and the Riddick was a lovely little ram. This year I am hoping for a similiar ewe. Moorit or black lambs likely.

3. Under the Son Sonora- Very friendly ewe that will nibble my fingers if the treats don’t come fast enough. Hoping or an improvement in crimp in white. Black or white lambs likely.

4. Winter Sky Wren- Lovely little moorit yearling with a great fleece. Hoping Bug can fill out her offspring a bit. Moorit lambs.

5. Sheltering Pines Lotus Moon- I kept Lotus’s lamb from last season (Kalinda) and I can only imagine the fleece on her Bug babies will be divine. Stephen has lovely sheep and I can’t wait for these lambs. White or black lambs.

White Pine Levi- Levi I had also used heavily in the last few years. He will be for sale after breeding season.

1. Sheltering Pines Temperance- Not much to complain about with this ewe, she is lovely. Black lambs

2. Ok Acres Tina- Tina is a great little sheep. She had a great ram lamb with Levi last year so we are putting her with him again to try for a keeper ewe lamb. Moorit or black lambs.

3. Emancipation Cleo- Cleo won 3rd place in a large yearling lamb class at Wisoconsin Sheep and Wool. This will be her first lambing year. Moorit or black lambs.

4. Abbie- Snowflake’s last baby. Katmoget lambs.

5. Obara- my crossbred sweetie

Whispering Pines Jean-Luc

1. Emancipation Prija- Bug daughter, lovely fleece. Katmoget lambs

2. Firth of Fifth Sakadah- mother to Bruce (breeding ram). Gul-kat, gulmoget, katmoget, black lambs. Hoping for gul-kats.

3. Shepherd Woods Easter Skerry-  Loved her lamb with Jean Luc last year, wanted to repeat the breeding. katmoget lambs

4. White Pine Faith- Hoping to get a bit more size on the lambs. Katmoget lambs.

5. Fiona- crossbred

Emancipation Bruce- Bug and Sakadah 2014 ram lamb, crimpy spotted gulmoget who carries moorit

(Bruce on left, Freya on right)

1. Red Oak Freya- Freya is a lovely ewe. She carries moorit and spots and I am crossing my fingers for a moorit spotted gulmoget ewe lamb but could get that or gulmoget, moorit, black

2. Sommarang Dawn- My favorite sheep of all time. Dawn throws lovely babies and has a sweet and friendly personality. I’m hoping for gul-kats but could get katmogets, gulmogets or gul-kats.

3. Sheltering Pines Jadore- kept her ewe lamb from last year and sold her ram lamb as a breeding, hoping for moorit gulmogets, but could get gulmogets or blacks as well.

4. Emancipation Katniss- hoping for more spotted moorit gulmogets, but could have moorits, gulmogets, or blacks

Emancipation Augustus- Traded his sister for Winter Sky Wren and kept him. Lovely black spotted ram 2014 ram lamb, with good crimp and nice legs.


Team spots

1. Little Country Victoria- spotted moorit, hoping for more spots. moorit or black lambs, should be spotted.

2. Little Country Crow- Crow has big, lovely babies, usually singles. She has had ram lambs two years in a row and I am hoping for a ewe lamb. She is very parasite resistant. Moorit or black spotted lambs.

3. Under the Sun Sula- Black spotted lamb, great density, good confirmation. I am hoping Augustus can make her her lamb’s fleece a bit finer and crimpier. She had a single her first year and this year I am hoping for twins. Lambs black with spots.

4. White Pine Eva- Another Snowflake daughter. Lambs katmoget.

Ok Acres Hastings

1. Winter Sky Sicily- Hastings is a beefy boy, Sicily is a bit slender and I am hoping HAstings can beef up her frame. Moorit spotted lambs.

2. Emancipation Bethesda- Another smaller framed ewe I am hoping Hastings can beef up. Moorit or black lambs. Spots possible.

3. Little Country Bailey- My second favorite ewe after Dawn. Her daughter got 3rd place in a large yearling ewe class at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. Bailey carries moorit so moorits or katmoget lambs.

4. Emancipation Ostara- Ostara got 2nd place at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool in the yearling ewe class. She is one of my friendliest sheep and a real sweet heart. Lambs should be katmoget or moorit, possibly with spots.

French Angoras for Sale

Broken Fawn $60

Nice boy, my favorite of the bunch, may carry chinchilla light


Opal buck $50


Wide band fawn $50

Ewe Sales List

Every year to make room for lambs to retain we must sell a few older ewes. Parting with any of the sheep is like pulling teeth for me, yet it must be done.

Here are the ewes we are selling this year.

River Oaks Ginger

Ginger is a moorit bleset. UK lines in her pedigree are Dillon,  Minder, and Holly. She is somewhat friendly and will allow pats and scratches and will beg for treats. Her fleece is very dense, and she is crimpy. I retained her ewe lamb from last year and am keeping her ram lamb this year for evaluation. Her micron test is pending. She was born in 2010.




Little Country Victoria is a spotted (flecket) moorit. We have had her for two years and she has always twined. She has always has very pretty spotted babies (when bred to a spotted ram). She has a dense, wavy style fleece with a slight double coat. I am not breeding for double coated fleece, but for someone that is, Victoria would be a nice ewe. Her 2013 fleece stats were Micron:25.2, SD:7.6, CV: 30.3% her 2014 micron tests are pending. Victoria was born in 2010.




Brienne is a mix of just about everything. She has a lovely, white, long and crimpy fleece. Her micron test is pending. Her tail has not been docked. She can be friendly. She was born in 2013 and will be ready for breeding in the fall.


Goodbye Snowflake

Yesterday we said goodbye to V Creek Snowflake. Snowflake was our oldest ewe. She would have been 11 in the spring. We babied her this winter, feeding her extra rations, and checking and double checking on her in the coldest weather. Snowflake had come to us rather shy, and although she never seemed to want to be pet the way some of our other sheep did, she was friendly in her own way.

Snowflake will live on in the three offspring she has which live at Emancipation Acres: Emancipation Inara, Emancipation Abbie and Sommarang Eva.Snowflake’s lambs never disappointed. She was an excellent mother, who consistently produced excellent lambs.  I am glad to have her lambs to remember her by.

We will miss you Snowflake!

Snowflake and her 2013 lamb, Abbie.


Chowing pumpkin with Emancipation Katniss.

20120920_110933Snowflake and her 2013 lamb Emancipation Inara (one of my all time favorite sheep)


Sheep Breeding Groups for 2013

Last year we had two rams, this year we have four, so we had to build two more breeding pens. Breeding groups were put together in the middle of November and the boys are delighted.

Our ram, Sheltering Pines Bug really, really gets into breeding season. Other times of the year he is like a sweet puppy, but during breeding season he is all business. Bug has an amazing fleece, good confirmation, and his lambs are always the friendliest. I could see myself keeping a son of his.

Bug’s Girls

1. Firth of Fifth Sakadah- Sakadah is a gulmoget(my favorite!). Last year she had a black ewe lamb named Sookie. With Bug she should have a gullie or a solid black. Fingers crossed for more gullies! We retained her ewe lamb from last season.

2. Sommarang Comfrey- Comfrey is one of my older girls, this year she is eight. Last year she went to Levi, so this year I put her with Bug. Comfrey has nice babies and so far I’ve retained both the ewe lambs I’ve gotten from her (Katniss and Bethesda.) I’m expecting black babies, and would be thrilled if they had yuglet markings.

3. Lil’ Country Bailey- This is probably my favorite ewe. She is from polled lines. has a lovely fleece, nice babies and is as sweet as pie. I wish all my ewes were as gentle and people-centric as Bailey. We retained one of her ewe lambs from last year, Cleo, who is moorit. Babies from her and Bug should be either katmoget or moorit as Bailey carries moorit.

4. Lil’ Country Victoria- Victoria’s fleece needs some improvement and I think Bug is the ram that can give that to her babies. Both parents carry spots, so I am hoping for something flashy.

5. Under the Son Sula- I am hoping for more flashy, spotted babies from this pairing.

6. Sheltering Pines Jadore- What can I say, I love Stephen’s sheep! Jadore is fawn (modified) and Bug carries modified. I am hoping for more modified from these too.

7. Sheltering Pines Temperance- Temperance and Bug have produced offspring before (not at my farm) and they had a shaela. The shaela color is a beautiful steel gray and it is a very rare color. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a shaela ewe lamb!

8. River Oaks Ginger- Ginger is another very sweet sheep. Bug often has friendly babies, so I am hoping for people-friendly sheep out of these two. They could be spotted too!

9. Emancipation Inara- Our first year breeding we kept only two ewe lambs and Inara was one of them. She is finally old enough to breed and I am excited to see what she produces. She is very friendly, and one of my favorites.

Levi’s Girls

1. Ok Acres Tina- Tina is a Bug daughter we bought at the same time we bought Bug. Silly, I know, but I am a fool for friendly sheep. Tina is sweet and beautiful. I imagine her lambs will be black.

2. Lil’ Country Acres Crow- Last year Crow went a little crazy–she gave birth to her own two lambs, and then proceeded to abandon them in favor of some week-old lambs she tried to steal from their rightful mother. Hopefully, for her sake, this year she will get it right. Her babies will likely be black with spots.

3. Sheltering Pines Lotus Moon- One of my only white sheep! I would love some cute white ewe lambs out of her.

4. Under the Son Sonora- Another white sheep I am hoping for keeper white ewe lambs from.

5. Emancipation Katniss- Katniss is Comfrey’s daughter from two years ago, and this will be her first lambing year. Katniss is spotted and I am hoping for spotted babies from these two.

Jean Luc’s Girls

1. Sommarang Dawn- Dawn and Bailey fight for the position of My Favorite Sheep. Dawn is sweet and friendly. I’ve loved every lamb Dawn has ever had. We retained one of her ewe lambs from last year, Ostara.

2. V Creek Snowflake- Snowflake is my old lady at ten years old. She herself is not the most beautiful sheep, but her babies are always stunning! I’ve retained her daughters from both years we’ve bred her and just bought another one of her daughters, Eva, from Garrett. You can tell, I love Snowflake. I’d like more sheep from V Creek too!

3. Sheperdwoods Ester- Ester’s coat is coarser (but not coarse) than I would like given her age. I liked her ewe lambs from last year and we kept Priya. I wanted to see what Jean Luc could do to improve on her fleece. Ester is very friendly.

4. Under the Son Senja- I bought three sheep from Under the Son farm and I wanted to give one of them to each purebred ram.

Eino’s Girls

Eino is the Finn ram I am borrowing from Garrett. He is a bit bigger than the Shetlands. Finn’s are in the European Short Tail class the same as Shetlands. I am hoping for meaty, quicker growing cross breds for meat lambs.

1. River Oaks Freya- Freya is a big, robust girl. I WANTED her to go to Bug, but she somehow SCALED THE CATTLE PANEL FENCE and I found her with her big booty pressed up against Eino’s pen. I had just gotten Eino and a few other girls so they were still in quarantine. The easiest thing to do was just let her in with them, so that is what we did. She can go to Bug next year I guess. Sigh.

2. Fiona – Fiona is a cross bred ewe I got from my friend, Kelly. She is a TANK.

3. Obara- Obara is a cross-bred ewe from Cynthia. She is another very friendly sheep. She follows us around like a dog, and we sometimes call her Obara-In-The-Way as she is always underfoot.

4. White Pine Koosi- I got these last three sheep from Garrett and they are all so pretty. I had planned to divide them up between the purebred rams, but I wasn’t totally sure they had been celibate during there time in quarantine. I quarantine any new sheep that come in, but the divider between the ram and the ewes wasn’t the strongest, and once Freya managed to fight her way over to the pen I decided it would be easiest to just put them all together for the breeding season.

5. Owl Hill Butter- I love the fleece on this girl

6. Eva- This is the Snowflake daughter I bought. She is a beauty.

7. Sheperdwoods Lyra


More than four years ago I thought I wanted a mastiff. I lived in the north west suburbs of Chicago, with my then boyfriend, now husband, Joel. Joel had moved with me to Palatine when I got teaching job there. We lived together for about a year when I sat him down and told him I didn’t think I could live much longer without a dog. We’d lived an in apartment a year before that, and now, a year later, we were in a house. I’d lived with a dog since I was four and it was killing me to be without one. Joel has allergies, but said he would try to get used to a dog for me.

That summer Joel went away to Tennessee for two months to get his Permaculture Design Certificate. He agree while he was gone I could get a dog. I thought at the time I wanted to get a mastiff. I contacted local rescues and got major run around, un-returned calls ect. I found a lady in La Salle with a mastiff and my dad and I drive down to visit. The dog was 300 lbs of untrained. He was sweet, but didn’t know how to walk on a leash, liked to put your arms in his mouth and had been taught to “give hugs.” I  knew I could not bring that dog back with me to the suburbs.

Back at my dad’s condo in Rockford I was mopey. I wanted a dog, dammit! My dad finally said something to me along the lines of, “Maybe a mastiff is just to much dog for you right now. Maybe you should get a boxer.” I started looking on Petfinder right then and as I was scrolling through the profiles a dog named “Sweetie” caught my eye. Her long jowls, and liquid eyes made my heart skip a beat. She felt like my dog already.

Soon after I visited her at the shelter in Chicago Ridge with my friend Julie. At least at the time Chicago Ridge was the biggest dog rescue in the area. Entering the dog room was deafening. We took “Sweetie” out of the cage for a walk outside away from all the chaos. As we walked down the aisle between the rows of cages all the dogs went wild, throwing themselves at the bars and barking their hearts out. “Sweetie” looked straight ahead, she never barked, she never even looked to the side. She walked like a princess. We got outside and it was hot. She had horrible diarrhea and was so skinny her ribs were showing. She had obviously been nursing puppies recently. Her teeth were horrible from chewing on the bars of a cage all day. She was skinny and had been picked up off the street. Something about her would not let me look away. I didn’t look at any other dogs. She needed to be spayed before she could go home so I had to wait a few days before I could take her home.

On June 24nd 2009 “Sweetie” came home with me and became Sansa. The name Sansa is from one of my all time favorite series of books, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. In the books, Sansa is a sweet, gentle girl, naive, who is forced by circumstance to grow up fast. She is from a proud, royal house. Although Sansa isn’t my favorite character in the books, her name seemed to fit my new friend. I thought about the way she held her head up high as she walked down the aisle of frenzied canines, and I knew, she was royalty, she was Sansa.

This is a photo of Sansa from one of the first days I had her. She is staring very intently at a photo collage my mom made for me of our family.

sansa family

In July of 2009 I found the first, of many lumps in Sansa’s mammary glands. We had it removed and it was benign.

I feel head over heels for Sansa. She was the gentlest girl, so obedient and so sweet. Her vets at Banfield called her “the calmest Boxer we have ever seen,” and they used to fight over who got to be her vet. When Joel came home from Tennessee it was a bit of a surprise as I thought he was coming home the next day not at 3am. Sansa was ready to defend me and she took several minutes to calm down. I knew she would do anything to protect me, and I vowed I’d do anything to protect her.

Sansa and I had a good time in the suburbs. We babysat my cousins…

sansa mess

We went Up North as a family…

sansa joel

Sansa made her first dog friend, my dad’s dog, Chani.

sansa and chani

In 2010, I lost my job, we decided the suburbs sucked, and we bought a 40 acre farm in Wisconsin. Sansa didn’t handle the move well, she developed a lot of separation anxiety and twice jumped out a second story window when we left her alone. We worked with her, loved her, and with medication and time, she realized we were not going to abandon her. My wonder dog! She had already dodged the breast cancer bullet, and then she jumped out out of two second story windows and only scratched her chin a tiny bit.

One of the first animals we got were rabbits. Sansa loved to lay by them. Later when we built my colony she would come inside and sniff them. The rabbits never minded her. She always radiated such calm, gentle energy.


In June of 2011 Joel and I got married. Sansa was our flower girl.


She stood right up there with us.

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In July 2011 we added a little Rottweiler puppy, Drogo, to our family. I was worried he might boss her around as he got bigger, but despite being twice her size she kept him in line till the day she died. Sansa and Drogo loved each other, and would love playing tug, or chasing games or just lying together. Sansa loved to steal his bones and toys and mound them up underneath herself like Smog from Lord of the Rings.

She was happy to play tug…


And even happier to win…


Even though she liked to win, Sansa also liked to share.



Everyone loves Sansa, even kitties!


Joel and I joked that Sansa was my familiar, because she was my shadow as well as my protector.If we were outside and Joel was taking the dogs in but I was staying out Sansa would always take forever to go inside. She would stand and stare at me, and finally, slowly, walk inside. If I feel asleep on the couch watching a movie and Joel went to go upstairs (he didn’t wake me up cause I am a jerk when I am woken up) Sansa would refuse to go upstairs with him but instead would stay downstairs with me.

sansa hug

When we walked through an area heavy with thistles, I would tell her, “Sansa, walk behind me.” And she would. When I cried into her soft brown fur when I was sad she always gave me this somber look like she understood.

I’ve never met a sweeter, more gentler soul.

Right where all the lines of her face came together, between her eyes was a little spot I called her “kiss spot.” When I kissed her there the rest of her face cradled mine and It fit like It was made to be there.


Some of Sansa’s favorite things were to roll in grass or snow, get her Jolly, eat home-cooked meals, play tug, steal Drogo’s stuff, and cuddle. She loved to roll on her toys and whenever she got a new toy she would thoroughly roll on it to proclaim it hers. When we got a puppy three months ago I know Sansa had accepted her when she began to roll on her. Sometimes she rolled so vigorously she would roll herself right down a hill. In the winter when she rolled in the snow we said she made “dog angels.”


Most dogs stink, but Sansa never did. She had a sweet smell, and even if it wasn’t entirely accurate Joel and I started to say she smelled like a fresh baked cookie, hot out of the oven. Even though Joel is allergic; Sansa, Joel and I would often cuddle in bed. I told Drogo over and over again as soon as she stopped regularly eating poop, he could join us. He never has.


When Sansa lost some mobility in her back legs she started having trouble with stairs. Joel is notoriously difficult  to wake up but each morning he would jump right out of bed to carry Sansa down the stairs.  Nothing I’ve ever done has got him up so fast. But thats how much we loved Sansa. We fit our lives around her. We changed to make her more comfortable.


On October 1st 2012 Sansa was diagnosed with lymphoma by the University of Wisconsin Medical Teaching Hospital. Joel and I were devastated. The doctor’s explained to us that chemotherapy is often very well tolerated in dogs, as dogs are given a much lower dose than people and the emphasis is always on making their quality of life good. Without chemo they gave her a month to live at most. We decided to do chemo. Every visit required blood work before the chemo. Our visits were usually at least four hours long. We waited together, and I always brought her a blanket to lay on.

It was like a miracle! Sansa did well and seemed like her old self! Sansa finished chemo and had a full remission for three months. She came back for a check up with what we thought was worsening arthritis. Within days it had worsened, and the vets thought the most likely thing was a lymphoma tumor in her spine and one in her brain. They gave her some Elspar, and again, we had a miracle. She did okay with the next round of chemo, but then her liver values spiked, and she developed tremors of unknown origin. It didn’t seem like there was anything else medically to be done for her, and the pain meds no longer seemed to be working well enough. On September 30th 2013 we fed Sansa a lunch of Emancipation Acres pork and said goodbye to her in our home. We buried her outside, in the spot where I have so many pictures of her playing with her Jolly. I wrapped her in the blanket she always slept on in the car, and put her two favorite Jollies in with her.

Losing a pet is kinda like cleaving your heart in two, and being left with the smaller half. I love Sansa, like I’ve never loved a pet before. I love her gentle spirit, her friendship and all the things she taught me about love and being brown. I will miss her to the end of my days. Saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, or probably ever will do.

I am grateful for all the good times we had together. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I am also deeply grateful for the top notch veterinary care Sansa received.  While at the UW she had a cadre of specialists, kind vet techs and front desk staff. I don’t think she would have lasted so long without their care and expertise. I am also thankful to my friend Amanda Pike, who answered SO SO many veterinary questions, and who was a good friend to Sansa.

joel and sansa

I would have conquered villages for you, Sansa, gone on endless quests, and paid everything I had to the UW if it could have saved you. I love you so much. I miss you so much. My life feels empty and stupid without you. You were the very best friend anyone could have ever asked for. I am so glad I got to meet you, and love you. Thank you for sharing your life with me. You made it better.

family snuggle