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The Dogs of Working Aussies Homestead

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We have been dog lovers our entire lives - especially herding breeds as we grew up with Border Collies and a BC mix. When we met in college, Josh had a young Australian Shepherd named Wyatt. Hooked on the breed already, we added Piper just a few months into dating.

Fast forward and they've been a crucial part of our lives ever since. They were in our engagement photos, at our wedding, tagged along for our honeymoon and everything else since! These dogs are as much of our family as our young daughter is and live in the house with us. 

We started breeding with our Wyatt and Piper and welcomed their first litter in November 2018. Since then we have added seven more Aussies to the pack including two rescues. We are fosters for the organization Save Our Herders Outreach which focuses on herding breeds.

Our rescues, Juniper and Trooper, are both double merles who are deaf and have some vision impairment. You wouldn't know it as they run and play along with the rest of the pack and know some basic signs. If you've ever considered fostering, we highly recommend it!

We kept two brothers from our first litter, Pine and Finn. Finn is our primary herding dog and loves to help with the chickens the most. We added Rey in 2020 as a breeding prospect and we were eager to get our toes wet in professional herding lessons and trialing. In 2022, we kept back Joy, a female from Wyatt and Piper to carry on their lines in our program as we plan to retire Piper this year, 2023. Our newest addition is Rogue, a striking and spunky female we held back from Rey's first litter born New Years Eve day 2022. 

Temperament, biddability and versatility are what we strive for in our breeding program. Our puppies are raised using both Puppy Culture and Avidog protocols to help our puppies be their most confident, social and balanced selves. We have puppies in homes from coast to coast living as companions, hiking buddies, service dogs, and working herding dogs. 

We keep our puppies until they are 10 weeks old minimum and strive for them to meet at least 100 people in their time with us. We have partnered with two yoga studios to offer Yoga with Puppies classes to help with socializing in a safe environment. We take the puppies for car rides, visit friends, other farms and pet-friendly stores to offer novel experiences. They receive two DHPPL vaccines and are on a deworming schedule every 2 weeks. They are instinct tested on livestock at 5 weeks old and then later complete the Volhard's Puppy Aptitude test at 7 weeks old.

 

WE MATCH PUPPIES TO FAMILIES - We evaluate the puppies and determine the perfect home for each puppy based on their drive, test results and looking at key elements of the home each family has to offer. In our experience, we have had great success in matching the perfect home to each puppy as the success and happiness of our puppies is our number one priority.

Our puppies receive baths and nail trims weekly to desensitize to grooming as well as use of the blow dryer. Our puppies are introduced to so many novel experiences and every day items as we raise our litters in home and extremely hands-on. Our other dogs and cats help teach proper play behavior, manners, and how to respect boundaries - we are thankful for the amazing dogs we have and how they play a role in the life of our puppies.

We do keep a waiting list but if you are interested, please fill out our puppy application using the button below.

Our puppies are $3,000, come with limited registration (dual when applicable), an incredible puppy pack with some of our favorite items including collar from Lupine Pet and leash from Mountain Dog Products, already microchipped through AKC Reunite with lifetime membership, sample bag of Kinetic, and lifetime support from us as your breeder.

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Pastured Pork
Our KuneKune Pigs

When we were looking to add pigs to the homestead we initially looked into using a deep bedding system since we had a small space and did not necessarily want to designate a space for rooting to occur. 

We were thankful to come across a workshop on KuneKunes, a great pig for someone wanting a sustainable pork.

The KuneKune pig is primarily a grazing breed known for their hairy appearance, shorter snouts and social temperament.

The KK is slower growing breed and doesn't reach full size (150lbs-250lbs)

until 18-24 months of age. However, this smaller size makes them perfect to butcher yourself. 

KuneKunes are only in heat for 8-48 hours every 28-30 days. Gestation is an average of 116 days, 2 days longer than most swine breeds. Litter size can vary from 1-15 piglets. Assistance is not necessary for delivery but is recommended to ensure piglets have safe place to get away from mom and avoid getting crushed. KuneKunes make incredible mothers and are sure to keep their babies close.

We loved adding this breed because our property needed animals that could be beneficial to our soil health!

Thinking that KuneKunes may be the breed of pig for you? They very well could be but just to help you be sure, check out this video where we discuss the five main things we wish WE knew before adding these animals to our small homestead.

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When we added our first KuneKunes in 2020, we dreamt of adding our own pork to the freezer. In January 2022, that dream came true as the first piglets born on our property were processed by us, with the help of some amazing friends.

Butchering our own pigs not only taught us the skills to do so but gave us the confidence to put only the best foods on our plates with the peace of mind that these animals lived well and that their lives were honored by their purpose. 

We enjoyed raising our KuneKunes as they proved to be the perfect pig for us on our small homestead. We were able to rotational graze them with minimal supplementation as well as take advantage of their part in helping us have as little waste as possible when it came to processing other animals on our property.

Their size also made them extremely manageable to process and butcher. Our first two pigs, we scalded and scraped using a friends large metal half barrel to ensure they went far enough into the hot water. The other two we have processed since, we skinned which, although a more tedious task, proved to be easier with the lack of equipment. A sharp knife can certainly make or break a system but these pigs are the perfect size for a small family as two pigs stocked our freezer.

 

We have butchered our pigs into primal cuts as well as done complete ground in addition to rendering their lard and keeping organs and extremities for later use. By being open-minded to trying new cuts from the pigs, this means there is very little wasted and we get the most from each animal.

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Wool, Meat, Milk & Herding
Our Gulf Coast Native Sheep

When we started attending formal herding lessons, we were traveling over 2 hours one-way. While it was worth it for the knowledge and practice, at the time, we didn't have sheep. Their addition to our homestead initially was for the use in herding practice with our dogs as well as their use in rotational grazing to continue healing our property. Our future goals include being able to offer herding lessons to those interested in getting into herding as an outlet for their dog(s). 

Looking into adding sheep, we wanted a breed that could thrive in the hot, humid summers our area of North Carolina offers. We also valued animals who could go without much intervention such as being grain-dependent as well as needing regular deworming and hoof treatments. Although we initially were in search of a hair-breed to avoid the need to shear, we came across the Gulf Coast Native breed.

Originating from the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia, the CGN sheep thrive in the hot, humid climates, are naturally parasite resistant and are also hoof-rot resistant. They are a triple purpose breed, great for meat at the adult size of 150lbs for males and 100lbs for females. Their milk contains 8% butter fat, higher than some breeds of dairy cattle, however, their average daily production is much less than cows at roughly 1 quart of milk per day. Gulf Coast Natives are a wool breed, primarily solid white in color, however, solid black is not uncommon. They are typically shorn once per year and their wool goes for an average of $30/lb depending on the market.

We decided to add 3 wethers (castrated males) to our homestead to start with. Their addition allows us to not only use them for training purposes with our dogs, but also use them in the future as a grass-fed meat and wool to use in crafts and clothing. We will be adding more sheep to our homestead from Shangri-baa this winter 2023!

Rotationally Grazing Egg-Layers

The very first animals we added to the homestead were 12 Black Australorp and Rhode Island Red pullets (young females). A few months later, we added Whiting True Greens and Whiting True Blues into the mix. Altogether, these chickens lay beautiful brown, green and blue eggs. When cracked open, you can find a nice dark orange yolk, a direct result from our rotational grazing practices and the extra carotenoids found in the grasses and flowers they consume as well as occasional fruit and vegetable scraps.

                

Even at 3 and 4 years old, our girls are still prolific layers, giving us one egg almost daily! We have also successfully hatched our replacement flock and sell chicks at a local Agri Sales store.

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Pasture-Raised Meat Chickens

Pasture-raised chickens were the first animals we added to our freezer. A pact we made when we decided to start homesteading was that every animal we brought on would leave by our hand. This meant we were dedicated to learn the art and skill of not only proper animal husbandry but also ethical dispatching and butchering methods.

We harvested our first 50 Freedom Ranger meat birds in December of 2019 and we haven't bought chicken from the grocery store since then. In 2020, we raised over 800lbs of chicken on our small property, plenty to feed our family as well as several families in our local community.

Thankfully, we are able to butcher ourselves and sell from our farm under NC Agriculture 1,000 Bird Exemption rule. Something to keep in mind if you are considering selling your meat birds to help cover the cost of raising them.

The Freedom Rangers offered more dark meat and larger legs as they take roughly 12 weeks to reach best processing size while the Cornish X have more white meat and larger breast, only taking roughly 8 weeks to reach best processing size.

We have raised several hundred Freedom Rangers and Cornish X meat chickens and have always offered our butchering days as an opportunity for anyone wanting to come and learn how to butcher chickens.

Want to come and learn? Sign up for our next butcher date!

Canine Nutrition
& How We Use Animal Parts From Our Property

Knowing how our animals are raised, we love being able to add good nutrition in to the high-quality kibble we already feed our working Australian Shepherds.

Like any athlete, it takes proper nutrition to keep our dogs healthy and able to complete their day to day tasks. We ask our dogs to be able to clear fences that may or may not have an electrical charge and be up to 4ft in height. We ask our dogs to be problem solvers as well as be fast enough to catch livestock that has gone astray from its designated area. 

For almost four years now, we have trusted Kinetic Performance Dog Food to fuel our dogs. It has kept them all (remember we have 8 ranging from almost 7yo to 14 weeks) active with healthy digestive movements, shiny coats, clean teeth and the ability to do exactly what we and our livestock require from them.

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Kinetic Dog Food was founded by two guys who wanted to honor the value customers believed was in their dog's food. This company never sacrifices the quality of ingredients for cost-sake and designed it with working dogs in mind. We also use their Bio Supplement for our pregnant and nursing girls to aid in proper development of our puppies and see a true difference when comparing our puppies to others who have not benefited from Kinetic. Kinetic is found at many Tractor Supply Stores as well as online using Chewy.com

 

Along with Kinetic and animal parts from our own butchering days on the homestead, we love partnering with Real Dog Box to offer a variety of single-ingredient, air-dried treats and chews to offer balanced nutrition for our dogs. 

The combination also leaves our personal items intact with not only our adult dogs but also when we raise litters of puppies. It helps them from being bored and chewing we well as gives the puppies a proper outlet for teething. RDB is a subscription you can sign up for, change or cancel at any time as well as add on addition items such as a super chew meant to last longer for your dog/puppy.

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