I grew up on a farm in northwestern Minnesota. Other than dogs and cats there were no farm animals, just vast acres of wheat and barley, potatoes, and sunflowers. When I was young I would always qualify, “I live on a farm,” with, “but it’s not a real farm.” Last week I had the great luck to be driving across the beautiful Minnesota countryside and visited Nancy Ellison at her sheep farm near Zumbrota. Here was a real farm! Here are five things I learned.
- Sheep fleece color can be deceptive! Several sheep whose coats looked brown were really like surfer sheep, with hair bleached by the sun. The lambs this spring were all born black, but began to show their true colors over the summer, making for a layered look.
- Chickens like broken up store-bought cookie pieces. Turkeys and ducks do too.
- This spring Nancy’s Norwegian chicken hens produced and raised more chicks than expected. Norwegian chickens aren’t normally the best mothers.
- Her crazy goose who looks like he is wearing an orange hat is seventeen years old! They can live to be in their twenties and thirties, and one has been documented as old as 80!
- On an impossibly bright and warm October afternoon, happy goats can look just like they are smiling.
Here’s a few more photos from that great day.