Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Continuous Cycles

We've had a continuous pot of chicken soup going on the stove since the week before Christmas. I don't know about where you live but there's been a bit of the nasty cold thing going around. I was lucky enough to get it twice. I am recovering but now my family is down with it. More chicken soup is simmering away.

Late in the day yesterday, The Farmer and I sorted out the last of the 2010 ram lambs from the flock of lambs that have been in the pasture in front of our farmhouse. We've got our last appointment at the processor until probably sometime late in the spring or early summer. Marrying supply with demand while working with nature (sheep begin breeding in August and there is a 5 month gestation cycle) is a constant struggle. We have pretty much thrown up our hands and are just going with the natural flow of the life cycle of the earth and the sheep.

Supply and demand of our lamb meat is one giant problem we will never completely be able to overcome. It's not like when I was in the yarn business and we just had to make sure we got our orders in on time for prompt delivery. Most consumers just do not think about where their meat comes from. They totally disconnect the plastic wrapped, styrofoam-trayed meat in the grocery store from the animal that it came from. I know because I was one of them. I never thought anything about lifecycles of animals, birthing, slaughtering, diseases, grazing, graining or anything else I have learned so much since we began our flock of sheep many, many years ago. I feel it is kind of my job now to educate customers at the Farmers Markets about life cycles and supply. I personally don't think most customers are at all interested - they just want their lamb stew in the winter and their ground lamb in the summer. But I'll keep trying.

Speaking of, do you have any Winter Farmers Market in your area? Here in the Pioneer Valley, there are quite a few (we are doing the Amherst Farmers Market at the Middle School a few times a month). CISA has organized 3 special markets in Greenfield, Springfield, and Northampton. They are fun because they are inside and have a festive atmosphere (music, prepared soups and coffee). Check out your local winter markets if you have the opportunity. It's amazing how many veggies are available all winter long!

2010 was a wonderful year here at our farm. The photo above shows the two big accomplishments - the growth of our Leyden Glen Lamb business and the studio/porch addition to the Farmhouse where I ran my "Getting Stitched on the Farm" classes. I thank all of you for coming on this journey with me and for being so supportive. A special thanks to all the wonderful students who braved our dirt road and spent a few fun-filled days of knitting, color, and farming with us.

I'll be announcing the upcoming "Get Stitched" classes on Saturday, January 15th. If you are one of the people who has e-mailed me, check back then.


Virginia said...

Love winter farmer's markets.

And yeah, totally agree with you about the knowing where your meat/food comes from thing. We've been trying really hard to buy only meat that comes from farms that we "know" (if at least through our farmer's market) and not processed crap. It's cut down on our meat consumption a great deal, simply due to availability and expense, but that's not really a bad thing.

Suzanne said...

Hope your family feels better soon. I started the nasty cold thing last Thursday and am hoping it goes away soon.

Loco Lindy said...

Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any winter's farmers markets around here, wish there were. I know what you mean about the cold yuck, I'm on my second one also after a few winters of avoiding them altogether, lots of chicken soup here as well!

PJ said...

Living in the San Francisco bay area I can go to a farmers' market every day of the week. Some of the smaller ones get "sparse" with only greens but it beats buying shrink wrapped veggies any day.

Feel better.

Kate G said...

The January 1 post with Julia in the Quarters cap couldn't have come at a better time as I make my way through some Julia yarn leftovers in the stash. Thanks, Kristen!

I had to laugh at your endless pot of chicken soup. The West Coast is not so balmy these days, so we have a similar pot going. Our "coldcure" has plenty of chili and we serve it with tortilla chips.