Thursday, January 27, 2011

Back to the Valley and Leyden Glen Farm

I've written about Hand/Eye Magazine before here. Their mission is to "bridge the worlds of art, design, craft, philanthropy, retailing, and socio-environmental sustainability." Besides a lovely print magazine, they have a wonderful weekly newsletter. Today I was surprised to see them feature some local artists in a special feature on finding art and craft at many Farmers Markets. Congratulations to Lucy Fagella and Tiffany Hilton, two local Greenfield potters, and to Justamere Tree Farm, makers of beautiful corn brooms, besides being major maple sugar producers.

This Saturday January 29th, I'll be selling our Leyden Glen Lamb at the Amherst Winter Farmers Market at the Amherst Middle School. There will be a "SOUP-TACULAR" featuring soup made using the local farmers produce made by local chef Tom Hildas. Stop by and pick up some stew meat or half a lamb shoulder and I'll give you a recipe for both our favorite Scotch Broth Soup (full of root veggies) and Braised Lamb Shoulder. I'll be bringing some half shoulders so they will be smallish (1 1/2 to 2 lbs. instead of the normal 4 lb. shoulders). Did you know that Jamie Oliver's favorite cut of lamb is Lamb Shoulder? It is incredibly flavorful and wonderful to have simmering on the stove on a Sunday winter afternoon.

On February 5th, we will be selling our Leyden Glen Lamb at Winter Fare, the 4th Annual Greenfield Winter Farmers Market. Held at the Greenfield High School from 10 to 2, this is a great event. It is jammed with people and has a very festive atmosphere. This market is worth a trip from far away because there is just so much darn good food available for sale there! All you Boston knitters, hop in the car, come to the market and then head down the Valley to the two fabulous yarn stores in Northampton or up the Mohawk Trail to the newish Metaphor Yarns. Cross your fingers for good weather for us!

And speaking of farming and markets, those sheep are at it again. Lambing season looks to be starting within a week or so. Yesterday I heard the door open shortly after noon and as the cold air whooshed in, I heard the telltale baaaaahhhh of a newborn lamb. I will spare you the details, but the mama wasn't able to deliver and instead of losing three sheep, The Farmer acted fast and did a c-section to save a pair of twin ewe lambs. As he was walking in the door, I was talking to Kevin Ford, our sheep shearer, and mentioned what was going on. His quote to me was "Well, he is a real farmer, isn't he?" And I totally agreed.

Do you see that glimmer in his eyes in the photo?


He won't tell you this, because he doesn't often express his feelings, but I can tell that he is really excited that lambing season is almost upon us. The other reason his eyes were twinkling was that he had to work fast to save these two lambs and he was able to do it successfully. I guess I could make the analogy to all you knitters out there, it would be similar to finishing your first Fair Isle Sweater or intricate lace shawl.


When you are a sheep farmer, you act as your own vet most of the time. We rarely have a vet come to the farm - in fact I bet in 30 years, the vet has been here 5 times. This was a concept that was totally foreign to me in the beginning but quickly I understood that the value of a sheep is rarely worth the cost of a vet bill.

We will be lambing out over 250 ewes this year so it is going to be fast and furious and I have already volunteered to be in the knee deep in the thick of things. If there is anyone out there interested in an "un-paid internship" we may be willing to talk.

It is officially "house lamb" season here at our farmhouse. These twins were big and seem to be full-term. After a few hours of mucky breathing, they are up and about and loving the heat in front of the woodstove. In about a week, we'll transition them to the barn but for now it is cuddling time watching television in the evenings with them on our laps and poop and pee patrol. Makes you want to be a sheep farmer, doesn't it?

25 comments:

Sally said...

Oh great, now we're all gonna get crushes on your husband! So darn cute. The whole thing. Thanks for sharing.

Janis said...

I am jumping up and down shouting "Way to go, Farmer!"
Tell him that I think he is fantastic and my new hero.
We love your sheep.

Anonymous said...

Those are really great pictures of Mark..... and the lambs make me want to take one home. What's a little more poop and pee?

Linda

Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Gorgeous pictures of the lambs (the farmer ain't too bad either ;))

Also add that the vet usually can't get there when it's a birthing emergency, so a farmer does need to 'just get the job done'. I have to say that with our alpacas, we've never had a bad ending to a birthing (I AM touching wood as I say this), however, I've done things I never thought I would be able to do, just to save the dam and cria.

It's all so worth it when the little ones are running around by the end of the day.

Enjoying your blog.
N

Tammy said...

If you could work with food allergies, my daughter would be there in a heart beat! :) She has enjoyed reading your blog through the last lambing season.

Those babies are so cute, and I have to agree with everyone else that the farmer isn't too bad either. ;)

Anonymous said...

He's a real HOT farmer! ;-)

fale artut said...

A Magic Farmer, I would say!

ellen said...

Oh, the Double P's!
And, yes, he is not only talented, but handsome to boot.

Auntie Shan said...

BTW, what SALLY said! ;-D

Hope he does good "stitch" work.

So, Twins...? Is that the usual? I always thought Sheep gave birth to Singles most time. Or, do you have some Secret "Cloning" Project going on?! :-D

philogirl said...

It is kidding season at my farm. I don't have the vet come very often either. I have learned to pull lambs and goat kids. I have never done a c-section and hope never to have to.

Good luck with the lambing. You get tired and worn out, but seeing a lamb or kid take its first breath, suckle its first milk and walk for the first time is so fun.

I also like it when they "play" in the late afternoon.

Philogirl and Goat Farmer

Maureen said...

The "farmer" is just as sweet as the twins...what a super hero he is! You're a lucky lady!

Carol said...

Wow! Your husband is so handsome! When you take classes at your farm, will he be around? Hmm.... have to sign up!

Carol

AllisonInPhilly said...

Yay Farmer! Those little lambs -- I want to snozzle them!

Loco Lindy said...

Thank you for sharing the realities of farming without sugar-coating it. It can certainly be grueling, but saving two tiny lives like the Farmer did is definitely worthy of a twinkle in the eye. He'll be walking on air for a little while (at least until the 500-or-so MORE lambs start arriving to wear him out!)

J. said...

I have a friend who is a sheep farmer and it isn't unusual at this time of year to have couple of lambs running around her house in cloth diapers :)

Sorry I live to far away to be of any help!

mascanlon said...

Great photos and a lovely story to end the week on. They look so cute on his lap, you almost forget about the poop and pee!

alison said...

Yay for lambing season! Last year my son and I had such fun checking in on your new babes every day. In fact, just the other day he asked me about "that blog with the all the lambs and Eeyore"—he must have sensed that it was getting time. The chronicle of farming life that you share is such a gift and one that I'm so happy that my son gets to see and enjoy. We love it, both the cute and the not so cute and fluffy stuff. Thank you to you, The Farmer and Julia.

Anonymous said...

My Farmer has been known to do emergency vet work on the ladies in our dairy herd. (Never a C- section though)

A successful birth is always a celebration!

Just one of the many hats a farmer has to wear!

Thanks for your stories and photos.

ellen said...

The lambs are adorable - sorry you lost a sheep. The Farmer doubtless made the right decision and is mighty handsome.

Candylei said...

Bottle fed lambs! I just found your blog. We sold all of our sheep except one favorite ewe just before Christmas. Now I'm off to read some more of your posts.

Candylei

Beth said...

Actually, sitting with a lamb on my lap does sound pretty cool!!

Tina said...

Ahhh...what adorable photos of the lambs. Your hubby looks like a perfect farmer too! Thank you for sharing an

kathie said...

now I really want some lambs.

Loretta said...

Quick thinking on the part of the Farmer..Have to agree he is very handsome. How come you haven't done a yearly calendar with all your pics from the farm? I would be first in line to get one. The lambs are darn cute...and I can't get over the names!! LOVE IT!!!

fernando martinez said...

i volunteer Nicholas and Fran for next year. room and board.
mark, you are the man.