Newsletter – February 2018

Flooding, freezing, puppies, lamb chops. A freak warm spell and an inch of rain came out of nowhere last week that melted all of the snow in the surrounding hills around us, and for the third time in two years our farm’s low waterways were flooding. A culvert under our road for a normally dry creek bed froze up and the flooding and freezing created a 50-foot glacier of ice between the house and the car, now covered in a rushing river! We hoisted the toddler and our bags on our shoulders and waded across holding on to willows for support. Talk about nature throwing curve balls!

Ever wondered what our farm looks like in the summer professionally filmed? The film crew from Outdoor Wisconsin came out and filmed a segment at our farm this past summer and they just broadcast it this week across Wisconsin. If you haven’t been out to visit our farm yet, this is a great overview of what we’re up to with great shots of our animals and the landscape here.

We also had our first batch of livestock guardian dogs in the below zero cold snap just a week before the flooding week. They are a sweet batch of seven livestock guardian puppies, a blend of Karakachan, a Bulgarian guardian dog similar to a Great Pyrenese, and a French Maremma/Spanish Ranch Mastiff cross. All breeds that are large, independent, fearless, but gentle. Since we’ve had our guardians we haven’t had a coyote set foot on our property. Coyote populations in our area have really exploded, causing trouble for a lot of farmers. Interestingly, coyote populations are so heavy because of the decline of wolves in our landscape. So we’ve introduced a couple domesticated wolves of our own to help keep our farm predator-free for our sheep and chickens. The Mama and Puppies are inside the cabin with us staying warm while the puppies are still small. Next week we’ll move them outside where they’ll imprint on the sheep and become one of the flock. We will be looking for homes for these sweet little pups at the end of February or early March, where they can go off and protect another farm or homestead.

We started the month with a slaughter date for a cow, 5 pigs, and 7 lambs. It was -10 degrees, and Peter was down with the flu and 102 degree fever. But that didn’t stop him from getting up in the morning and getting all the sheep in a pen and wrestling the fat lambs to separate for slaughter. Whew, glad that’s over.
Which means we have lamb this month! We’re really excited about this lamb. They got fat on acorns and alfalfa, and their meat is tender and delicious. We have been super impressed with the quality of our grass (and acorn)-fed lamb versus the conventional lamb we grew up eating at relatives’ at Easter. The taste is less gamey and more closer tasting to beef. We’ll put lamb chops in this month’s shares. They make a great weeknight dinner that doesn’t take long to prepare. We season the chops with a spice rub, salt and pepper, let them come to room temperature, and then sear in a hot skillet on the stove. They can also be grilled. The key is to not overcook them. Chops will cook surprisingly fast and are delicious medium rare.
Spice Rub:
Mix together:
1 tsp. fresher dried rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 clove garlic, minced
Sprinkle spice blend over lamb and gently rub into the meat. Let chops come to room temperature. Heat a skillet over medium -high heat. Add a tablespoon each olive oil and butter. Sear lamb chops about 3 minutes per side. Let rest at least five minutes, then serve and enjoy!

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