Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thoughts about Sheep Farming and Spring Holidays

Today we awoke to a beautiful white world here at our farm. As avid weather watchers, we all were surprised as it was not predicted. Two lovely snowstorms in a couple days. Farmers call spring snow "poor man's fertilizer." Since we didn't have any snow cover this year, we will take whatever we get now. Here is a photo of a hill close to our farm. Our sheep will be grazing here in a few short months. We drive by this scene several times a day and I never tire of the natural beauty during the different times of the year. 

When Mark and I began sheep farming over 30 years ago, we were really clueless as to what all there was to know about raising sheep. Over the years, we have learned incredible amounts by trial and error, research, and just living through the various situations that arise when you raise animals. I tell people, when they are interested, that raising sheep is a whole bunch of science and working with nature to produce a good product. Like my friend Missy says - "sheep are the whole package - from meat to wool, they can feed you and clothe you." It is rather amazing to think about. 

We began selling our farm raised meat to the public at farmers markets in 2009. Since then, we have learned to anticipate the seasons of the year and what cuts of meat people will want to buy. It was a huge learning curve for us and we are still learning. We are always surprised by requests and strive to meet our customers needs and wants.

We have developed a great following of customers that pick up our recipes and try whatever I have developed for our different cuts of lamb. Our customers are so supportive and many are adventuresome home cooks who are willing to give a new type of lamb preparation a try. Many of them actually pass on to us their favorite ways to cook lamb. I love this give and take and am proud to be able to be part of feeding their families.

One of the more fulfilling and satisfying parts of being sheep farmers is being part of family celebrations. It has been an honor and a privilege to supply our lamb to many families as they celebrate holidays, births, deaths, and weddings. Lamb is eaten as a celebratory and traditional meal by most all the major religions in the world - Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. We have met so many wonderful people through our sheep farm and for that we are grateful.

The spring holidays of Easter and Passover are upon us. If you are a sheep farmer, like us, you would be scurrying around, gathering the different cuts of lamb that your customers were asking for. May 
I suggest to you all that you try to source a farm raised leg of lamb for your holiday meal. You will be carrying on a long tradition of celebrating spring with a feast of lamb. 

Not ready to roast a whole leg? Grilled lamb chops are also a simple and delicious meal to celebrate spring and the holidays. Want to try something different? I made David Tanis' Braised Lamb with Egg and Lemon on Sunday and it was spectacular. You can find the recipe as featured in the NY Times here

If you are local, I have several full legs of lamb available (4 to 6 pounds). Also, half legs (2 to 3 pounds), rack of lamb, rib and loin chops, stew meat, shoulders and shanks. 

I will be at WEBS in Northampton, MA on Thursday evening from 5 to 6:30 March 24th.

I will be at the Amherst (MA) Winter Farmers Market at the Amherst Middle School from 10 to 2 on Saturday.

Or you can pick up at our farm in our Lamb Store. Directions here

I suggest you call ahead if you have your heart set on something as the full legs will go fast. Farm phone is 413-774-6514. 


Unknown said...

There's little as sumptuous and beautiful leg of lamb. Alas, my spouse won't touch it, so it's just the occasional chop for me. I hope your sales are excellent this year.

Karen51 said...

Oh Kristin, lamb shanks are my favorite, braised with rosemary and thyme. This was my grandmothers recipe. I remember when the shanks were an inexpensive cut of the lamb. No more. But if I lived where you are, I would buy some. But I live in Wisconsin, have a blessed Easter.

Auntie Shan said...

Around these parts, I believe it's mostly "breakfast"-breeding..? - Dairy, eggs, bacon... - Any sheep farming, is likely for wool. But I'm a CITY-GIRL, what do I know?! The only creatures I get to see "grazing" about are squirrels [3 different kinds], and a variety of birds in our backyard! And, the odd rabbit and/or raccoon... Mostly because we have one of the few clumps of tall trees within the neighbourhood. Although, there are few strips of "forest" and wetland nearby. Unfortunately, considerably LESS than there was when we moved in 35 years ago. Back then the forest treeline was just a block away... But, a few acres of it was cleared for more housing about 5 or so years later. And in recent years, we've had to have hundreds of Ash trees removed because of disease. However, much raking is still involved!
Meanwhile, about 80% of the snow has vanished! - Mostly stony-ICE left. We got lucky and missed that dumping you guys got the other day! - However, we might be getting a bit of something tonight..?
Meanwhile, I've only "heard" the odd Robin, but haven't laid eyes on any just yet... Although, I did see a mess of geese today!! But, they were headed SOUTH-EAST..? [either a "clue" or just stupid birds!]

Anyhoo, GOOD LUCK with SALES!
And stay warm & DRY!

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