Meet Guest Blogger, Sheila Eismann, third in her family lineage of five female authors, speakers and poets, who endeavors to be an encourager with a sense of humor. Sheila’s newest release, Heart to Heart from God’s Word ~~ Daily Encouragement for You, doubles as a yearly devotional and prayer journal. Stirrings of the Spirit, which chronicles ten true life stories of God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of many people, is showcased along with Sheila’s other literary endeavors at www.desertsagepress.com and www.sheilaeismann.com
INVEST IN YOUR DREAMS!
I sat with rapt attention as I listened to a recent interview featuring a 14 year old farmer; however, I did not have to stay tuned until the end of the podcast to determine that this young man had already discovered his zeal for everyday life. In addition, he had managed to unlock one of life’s most important lessons, which is to invest in yourself in productive ways.
The entrepreneurial route can manifest at any time during our lives, but for Caleb it began at the ripe old age of six as a result of interacting with animals, reading books and spending time with his friends from church. At this juncture, he realized he really wanted to live in a rural area.
After turning eight, Caleb and his family met some friends in the Homedale, Idaho, area who raised cows and sheep. He liked cows, and his twin sister, Hannah, preferred sheep.
Since it’s a challenge to raise critters on the size of a standard city lot, Caleb’s parents looked across the fruited plain for suitable property upon which to help their son launch his dreams.
Hailing from the coastal lands without much agricultural experience under their belts, the family enrolled in the University of Idaho class titled “Living on the Land.” Following the completion of this course, it was time to roll up their shirt sleeves, don their straw hats, and go to work. The ground needed some tender loving care, especially the pasture which was dormant. Watering and mowing were the remedies applied for quick restoration. The addition of grapes, fruit trees, bee hives, and a large garden made for long farming days in the beginning stages.
Caleb’s parents, Tony and Jodi, purchased two sheep for their twins. The first acquisition included a set of ewes. Caleb and Hannah used monies from their small savings accounts to buy two wethers to raise and sell.
|Caleb’s Katahdin Sheep|
Using their heads for something besides a hat rack, Caleb and Hannah proceeded to purchase a ram from the Portland, Oregon, region during the fall of 2013. Their parents blessed them with the addition of two more ewes. Caleb and Hannah decided upon the heritage breed of sheep known as “Katahdin,” which do not have wool so you do not have to shear them. In order to arrive at this conclusion, the family attended a local sheep shearing session and carefully observed all that was involved in the process. Caleb’s assessment was along the lines that “there’s a little bit more than meets the eye to this sheep shearing business and I don’t think it’s for me!” Also, it can be difficult to locate someone to help shear your sheep if you do not have a large number of them.
For those of you who may be interested in purchasing one of Caleb’s lambs in the future, the Katahdin breed does not have the fat layer between the hair and meat like the “wooly” breeds do. As a result, there is not as much lanolin, which greatly affects the flavor.
Caleb’s farming style is known as “Management Intensive Grazing” and requires moving the sheep at least once per day. Suffice it to say, proper fencing is needed along with the desire and physical energy to keep up with this strict regimen.
The flock increased in the spring of 2014 to eleven lambs, which included two sets of twins, two sets of triplets, and a single. Oh, by this time Miss Hannah must have been smiling from ear to ear since she loves sheep! And, can’t you just hear the increased bleating at this point in this blog?
Farming days flew by, and Caleb realized that he was truly enjoying his role as a young entrepreneur on The Good Shepherd Farm. He offered to purchase his sister’s one-half interest in the ram in addition to acquiring more ewes.
Having been raised on a farm as a young girl, I know that there are a lot of inherent risks to any agricultural venture. Caleb discovered this early on when one of his sheep developed parasite problems in 2014. The de-worming method was used to help cure the parasitic issue; however, since Caleb’s animals are raised organically, he had to discount his selling price by $1.00 per pound because the meat no longer met the stringent criteria. Caleb’s honest business practices were rewarded, and he was able to sell the lambs to his customers.
While Caleb was busy tending to his flock, Hannah became interested in raising turkeys. She bought fifteen turkeys from Ohio, ten of which arrived safely in Idaho. Unfortunately, five of them died en route. Attrition via the family dog and cat accounted for the loss of two more of the turkeys.
Caleb and Hannah selected a breeding pair of turkeys and commenced experimenting with collecting, incubating, and hatching the poults until the proper time for them to be sold. Unfortunately, Hannah developed allergy problems as a result of the grasses grown in the pasture, so Farmer Caleb assumed full responsibility for the rafters. The surviving lot was sold in the fall of 2014, but Caleb kept two toms and two hens for breeding purposes. Sixty poults were hatched in 2014, of which 20 were sold, and Caleb retained 40 of them.
But, not so fast with this turkey part of the story! Turkeys just happen to have a few challenging traits along with other creatures. Caleb’s turkeys are the heritage variety and require a good enclosed area because they can fly. The broad-breasted turkeys can’t fly because they weigh more than the heritage breeds. So you really have to watch those turkeys because they have a mind of their own. Does this help to paint a vivid picture for you of anything else in life?
By now you have probably been able to surmise that Caleb was not only running a small profitable business but helping to feed his family along the way, including their beloved pets. The pivotal point of his early farming venture came when Caleb sold his first lamb and netted approximately $70.00 after raising it for five months. He suddenly realized that he could do the same thing with raising his own lambs and making more money to expand his agricultural operation. Caleb started out with one ewe and now has six breeding stock. When he got his first ewe, he was not planning on selling any sheep, yet in 2014 he sold five lambs. A future goal is to sell not only meat but breeding stock too.
A fortuitous door opened just prior to Caleb’s 15th birthday when he approached a landowner in the valley and asked him if he could rent some ground upon which to seed additional pasture. At the time of the writing of this blog, a one and one-half acre field has been disked, harrowed, planted and corrugated with the advice and assistance of Caleb’s good friend and agricultural mentor, Caleb. Hold onto your farmer’s hat for just a minute. Even the number of “Caleb’s” is growing in this article!
When asked if Caleb had prepared a formal business plan or a marketing budget prior to launching his enterprise, he respectfully answered, “No.” One of the reasons for this was that he originally desired to start a cattle operation, but later decided that he liked sheep. So this humble venture began as two little sheep in a family pasture on 1.4 acres of land. In addition, writing a formal business plan ahead of time can be a daunting task and may discourage someone from even attempting to start a small business.
My observation of the young farmer featured herein is that his motto will take him a long way in many profitable directions and fulfill his dreams:
· Always be honest
· Work hard at what you are doing
· Be consistent with the project
On a personal note, I love to visit the Good Shepherd Farm! Now while it might not contain “Six Geese a Laying, Five Golden Rings, Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves and a Partridge in a Pear Tree,” it does feature:
· Six Ewes a Lambing
· Five Busy Bee Hives
· Four Flying Turkeys
· Three Baby Ducklings
· Two Morning Doves
Resources: www.offincome.comYou can catch up with Sheila by visiting her Author Page on Facebook or visit her website.
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