You know that period right between the midst of winter and the start of spring? I used to hate it. It felt like it was out of proportionally long, beating any other season in length and challenges on the farm.
I realize now it is all about how that times gets spent. February and March, notoriously cold and unpredictable, are prime time here at the farm. In February I can still dream really hard. We spend a bit more time inside than any other time a year. Time to sleep, to plan, to evaluate and rest. Then we slowly start to prepare and brace us for the madness of March, that makes February seem like a glorious stay-cation.
In March we lamb. Sam the Ram joined the ewes in the pasture during the first week of October, so 5 months later we can expect our first lambs. Sheep don’t waste much time on getting to know each other first. A sheep’s cycle is 21 days, and Sam stayed with the ladies for two cycles, so we will welcome a lot of lambs in the first three weeks and a few more, usually from young ewes, during the last three weeks. A whirling 6 weeks of birth, midwifery and inevitable lessons as a shepherd. I can’t wait.
By the time we tumble out of that cloud of lams and goat kids, spring will be here, grass will be growing and we’ll be running around until the first snowstorm hits again.
Last October our milking cow Georgi had a little bull calf. We were all there to witness it and it was such a sweet experience for us and our two boys.
All birth is magical to me, and I can’t imagine I will ever feel neutral about a lamb, goat kid or chick being born, but a calf feels like something else. No other birth has thrown me back to my own birthing of our two little boys as this beautiful, powerful, long and calm bovine birth.
I remember so vividly from my own births feeling so connected to all other mammals and thinking about how I wasn’t that different from a cow giving birth at that moment. Seeing an actual cow, the one I have such a daily intimate relationship with, give life, made me feel connected to this farm like nothing else.
Unfortunately we gave our six year old the honor of naming the little bull calf, that now goes through life as Little Guy (short for.. I barely dare to say it publicly, GuyDie, because according to my oldest, he’s a little guy and he will eventually die. I’m not sure if my children have an extremely healthy relationship with life and death or a slightly crooked one..). He has since grown into a much bigger guy and has hopefully still many, many months with his mama on our beautiful pastures ahead of him.
Last year we transitioned from selling most of our meat through NYC farmers markets to selling boxes of lamb or goat meat off the farm and once a month home delivering boxes in NYC. Although Dan truly misses the market days, it gave us the chance to focus more on what’s most important to us; community.
Everyone that picks up a box of meat from our farm gets the chance to tour our farm, meet our animals, walk around with us and spend time together. It provides a deeper connection to the food that nourishes you, it’s the very next best thing to raising these animals yourself.
NYC customers get boxes hand delivered by Dan to their home, chat about the farm and get invited to come by for a free tour. We try as hard as we can to offer what I longed for so much when I was still living in the city; an intimate connection to the food that nourishes you.
We plan on doing these trips monthly, email us for the next free delivery date any time!
Tent Living in Winter
Tent life is still going strong. Last year I felt a little unsettled during the winter, wondering how much wind and snow we would be able to comfortably live with. As it turns out; a lot. Our little hidden donkey pasture, as we refer to it, keeps us from being hit too hard on windy days, and our wood stove keeps us as cozy as we possibly need to be.
This spring it will be two years of tent life, and although I can’t possibly think of a sweeter place to have been with two little boys during this time, this will eventually come to an end and then we will offer the tent as a place to stay for anyone that would like to live on the farm for a few days.
We will combine farm stay opportunities with farm tours, lamb sausages for breakfast, collect your own eggs and much more. We can’t wait to share this beautiful place in yet another way with you.
More this Winter Month at the Farm
For now, we prepare for spring. We are getting the barn ready for the lambs and goat kids were expecting in the next few days. We update our records to keep track of every ewe and doe’s health. We set up little jugs in the barn where mothers and babies that need some more time together before venturing out in the herd can have some space. We are ready.
Though lambing is our number one reminder that spring is coming, the geese and ducks just started laying eggs too. The daily egg hunt for their delicious fatty eggs gives me all the spring feelings like nothing else. Although we are still defrosting water spigots on the daily, the male ducks are chasing the females, more birds are waking us up in the tent in the early morning and the sunshine is slowly melting away a winter’s worth of snow.
We are ready.