If you’re interested in learning more about keeping your own animals, you should have good books on hand. The internet is a great source for finding information, but there is nothing like having the right book at hand in the barn at the moment when you most need it. If a baby is being born breech, you need to know NOW what to do! Here are some of the most useful books for the fiber farm, with links to purchase a copy for yourself:
Natural Goat Care, by Pat Coleby.
This handbook covers everything you could need to know about raising goats. It has sections on Milking Goats and on Goats for Fleece. You can learn everything you need to know about fencing, feeding, and breeding. The author covers mineral supplements (which are vital for good fleece production), herbal and natural remedies, and even goats’ psychological needs– all topics generally neglected by typical farm guides.
Natural Sheep Care, by Pat Coleby.
By the same author as Natural Goat Care, Pat Coleby covers everything you need to know about keeping a flock on a sustainable farm, using natural methods for feeding, supplementing, and keeping your sheep healthy. This book includes some interesting history on the origins and uses of sheep. The section on mineral supplements was particularly helpful when I was raising sheep because it clearly describes and explains the need for copper supplements for sheep and how that is different from the requirements of many other types of livestock. I actually brought this book to the feed store once to convince the clerk that sheep and goats don’t just need cattle minerals and feed. They have their own special requirements in order to stay healthy and to produce beautiful wool.
Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep, by Paula Simmons.
Written by an expert handspinner and fiber artist, this is the essential guide for anyone who wants to breed and raise sheep. It is the book you want to have in the barn when you prepare the lambing jug for your pregnant ewes, and it is definitely the book you want to have next to you in the lambing jug when the lambs start coming! Detailed descriptions of the presentation of lambs, how to assist the mothers, what to do immediately when the lambs are born guide everyone, from beginner to expert, through the lambing process. There is plenty of information in this book about fencing, feeding, and caring for your sheep as well, but the lambing section quite literally saved lives on my ranch.
Herding Dogs: Progressive Training, by Vergil S. Holland.
There is nothing as wonderful as the relationship between a shepherd and a fully trained working dog. This book outlines the go-to method for training herding dogs to assist the shepherd with the flock, written by a true master. If you have a Border Collie, you should read this book. Sheepdog trials as a hobby, even if you don’t keep your own sheep, is a deeply satisfying form of exercise for you and for your dog. You haven’t seen “happy” until you’ve seen your Border Collie doing what he’s been bred for centuries to do! If you don’t know the difference between “Come By” and “Away to Me,” this book is the place to learn.
How to Build Small Barns & Outbuildings, by Monte Burch
This classic reference book includes plans for any kind of shed or shelter you might need on your fiber farm or ranch. You can save money over kit-buildings or contractor prices by building your own. The plans are adaptable, so you can adjust the size to be what you need for your purposes. Great book to have handy if you’re raising farm animals!
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