Kansas Entrepreneur and Lifelong Farmer Katie Carothers
Today Katie Carothers is a farming entrepreneur in Kansas, but it all started with one lamb in 4th grade.
Raising animals is an important part of who I am. I grew up learning how to raise sheep as a young kid in 4-H1. I remember buying my very first lamb back in the fourth grade and entering a “Ladies Lead” competition. That’s where each lamb wore an accessory (pretty cute) and I had to wear a 100% wool outfit in the dead heat of the summer. Whoa, Nelly! It was so hot! Looking back, I have so many great memories of those days. But more importantly, those were the early years of what has turned into a great career of raising sheep.
Now I live on a farm with my husband and kids in Anthony, Kansas where I’m raising a small herd of heritage sheep, chickens, a few pigs and flowers. I really enjoy raising animals in addition to the business side of livestock. We raise our sheep to sell both their wool and the meat locally.
The specific breed of sheep on my farm is called Navajo Churro. It’s a wonderful breed for me because they were originally Colorado mountain sheep, which means they can endure difficult weather conditions. We get extreme weather in both the winter and the summer months here in Kansas, so their heartiness makes a big difference. I’ve discovered over the years that in order to keep them the most comfortable, I have to time shearing just right.
Each animal provides at least ten pounds of wool when we shear them. That’s a heavy coat! If I shear them too early, we can get a cold or wet burst and the sheep don’t have enough wool to keep them warm. On the flip side, waiting too late means they get too hot. That’s why I landed on shearing in May or June. These sheep can handle crazy weather, but this timing seems optimal for their comfort in our climate.
14-H is America’s largest youth development organization – empowering nearly six million young people with the skills to lead for a lifetime.