Jacob sheep serve a vital role on our farm. They provide wool, meat, sheep skins and farm income. Lambs go to market, quality breeding stock is sold to other Jacob breeders, and wool is taken to a fiber mill. To add to the value they bring in and the products they provide, our Jacobs also bring grace and beauty to our farm. I have cared for our flock for seven years now, and have come to know their seasons. The original purpose of Jacob sheep on our farm was to provide high quality natural color wool. And indeed, today, care is taken in the selection of new rams to slowly improve the flocks fleece quality. Jacobs have soft, open, low lanolin wool that is well suited to process at home. My wife, friends and neighbors are quick to pick up certain ewe’s fleece that they particularly like to take home.
This old-time neck yoke is a simple carved wooden piece with strings and hooks that is placed on a person’s shoulders for carrying buckets. I use my yoke for hauling water for our sheep, bringing collected maple sap back to storage containers, and supplying fresh cold well water to our home. When buckets need to be carried over any distance, this yoke does a wonderful job transferring the buckets weight from your hands and arms to the top of your shoulders. My grandfather made the pattern and showed me how to make one. This style of neck yoke has been used in my family and among friends for three generations. It is considered a valuable tool in our homesteading lifestyle.
Thatch can provide a very durable and handsome roof. In the U.K., where thatching has a rich history, there are instances of a water reed roof lasting over 100 years. This example is exceptional. I would estimate a typical reed roof to last 50 plus years. The quality of the water reed, the skill in thatching, and the environment that the roof is exposed to would all contribute to the longevity or lack thereof.