It’s been raining for what seems like a month, with a couple days this past weekend of sunshine and seventy degree weather. Four days later, we’re bracing for nights in the teens and 20s, but we are THRILLED to have some sunshine in our lives!
Since January 7th, our ewes have been hard at work having and keeping track of their babies! We now have about 40 lambs, with fourteen more ewes to go. Lambing with 38 ewes, instead of the 22 with which we started, and in winter this time, has certainly been more work, but things are going well so far (knock on wood). We’ve also had several firsts… our first set of triplets (now, we’ve had three sets of triplets) and our first assisted deliveries (lambs are supposed to come out like their diving, front legs and head first; we had one that had one leg backward and another that was just a little too hesitant to come out). We also had our first case of theft when one of our pregnant ewes, hormones raging, tricked us into thinking she’d had a baby, when really she’d stolen a twin. Unfortunately, she hadn’t developed her udder yet, so we ended up with a bottle baby. We also had one confusing morning, the day after Graham’s birthday, when we opened the barn to find eight lambs and four ewes who just couldn’t tell which lamb belonged where. They each accepted one, but then another ewe adopted two of the abandoned lambs right before having twins of her own. She’s kept three of them and all are doing well!
There’s nothing that brings a little ray of sunshine to your life like a gaggle of lambs playing, each bouncing for joy just to be alive, often frolicking themselves to the ground as they forget how to keep their spindly legs below them. We’re hoping they’ll keep thriving despite the winter weather to come. Now, for pictures…
We just wanted to do a quick post to let you know of a couple articles about the farm and to update you on goings-on this week. Thanks to Bryan Sullivan for writing us up for the Carolina-Virginia Farmer, and to Adam Hayes for hooking us up generally. Adam, of Red Stag, got us in touch with Bryan for this article and for the lamb class we presented to AND he’s to thank for our excellent farm feature dinner last weekend!
An article about our farm and the increase in pastured meat producers:
At the end of this post is the text from an Asheville Citizen Times article about the Future Farmers of America (FFA) lamb class to which we presented.
This week has honestly been a bit crazy, and the three weeks of rain has made for quite a bit of mud to contend with these days! Here’s a synopsis:
Our ewes moved into the lambing barn
That was after Graham made the barn door, which we hung like this (good thing Graham has rock-climbing experience and gear!):
We had more piglets on Saturday, December 30th! She had 13, lost 3 in the first few hours, but we still have ten piglets, which makes us very happy! She’s an excellent mother, and it’s been fun to watch how careful she is with the little ones. Often, the piglets are bundled on one side of the farrowing stall, and momma will dig a little trench next to them, lay down on the opposite side of it, then push them into the trench where they can snuggle up to her and eat. Animal mothers are truly fascinating to watch.
We also had baby rabbits! 21 of them this time. Our numbers are getting better on bits!
We moved the growing hogs into a new field, where they seriously bounced for joy at all the new grass and the straw!
And turned the growing hogs’ old barn into a laying hen barn, with new doors and roosts. 400 new layers moved in on Saturday night… in the midst of some serious wintery weather. We got pullets this time, which are about 5 months old, so just starting to lay. We let them outside for the first time yesterday… and they’re getting used to feeling outdoor grass and sunshine for the first time in their lives!
That about sums it up. Happy holidays and happy New Year to all!
Below is the article from the Asheville Citizen-Times – Author: Casey Blake; Date: Nov. 19th
North Buncombe learns about lamb from farm to table
Adam Hayes hearts lamb.
At least that’s what the sticker he was wearing Wednesday said, as he led a special lamb butchery lesson for the students of North Buncombe High School.
About 40 students from cooking and agriculture classes at the school heard from local farmers about the lamb production process. They also watched a cooking demonstration by Hayes, executive chef at the Red Stag Grill for the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Asheville, in a presentation detailing the lamb’s journey from farm to table.
Wendy and Graham Brugh, of the new Dry Ridge Farm in Mars Hill, told students how they raise the lamb, what kind of work goes into small family farms and about the direct marketing process to local chefs and farmers’ markets.
Hayes demonstrated how to prepare the different cuts of lamb meat, how chefs can be creative with the dishes and even served up samples of lamb entrees that go for $30 -$45 at the Red Stag Grill.
“A lot of these kids have never even tasted lamb before, so it’s great to be able to expose them to something new,” Hayes said. “It’s a different experience to be able to see things first-hand.”
Wendy Brugh told the classes about their decision to work with sheep and talked about the declining number of small family farms, especially among young people.
“For us this was really a lifestyle choice,” Brugh told the class. “We both like working outdoors and working with animals, and we really enjoy the relationship building that comes with direct marketing the products,” she said.
“Small family farms have really been declining in recent years,” she said, “especially with younger people. Eighty-three percent of farmers are older than 45 and the average age of a farmer these days is 57 years old. So we’re very interested in bringing younger farmers in and showing how you can really make a living at it.”
The presentation was organized by North Buncombe Future Farmers of America alumnus Bryan Sullivan, co-owner of Write Away Inc. editorial company, and a former chef himself.
Sullivan was writing an article for Carolina-Virginia Farmer on a local chapter of FFA, and learned that while kids in one class at North Buncombe were learning about the basics of lamb production, they had little idea of what happens to the product once it leaves their hands.
“The interest in helping these kids learn more about the overall business and marketing side of lamb farming was so well received by not only local groups, but regional and national participants as well,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan lobbied The American Lamb Board, based in Denver, to donate reading materials, lamb-cut charts, posters, cookbooks and the stickers modeled by Hayes and got the Virginia-based Border Springs Farm to donate lamb for the class demonstration.
“I think it’s just really interesting to know where my food comes from,” said senior Sydney Shrimplin, “and the lamb was pretty amazing. I’ve had lamb before but never like that.”
“Honestly, this is what happens when you have a great alumni association,” agricultural education teacher Justin Gillespie said.
“It makes a big difference for the kids to be able to learn about this stuff from people who do it every day, to see that application aspect,” he said. “If they know what the application will be, they pay a lot more attention and we saw that today.”