News and blog
So we are about to enter the late spring to early summer stage where life will get crazy, not quite midnight lamb delivery crazy, just dawn to dusk, long, sweaty, dirty days. Hopefully within another week or two we will be done feeding hay for the year and will be turning the ewe's and their lambs out on the pasture rotation. The lambs are all growing like crazy and last week I set up a creep feeding area. Hopefully the gains that we are seeing will keep up, some of our 6 week old lambs are already north of 30 lbs, they were born at 11 and 12, so that's a pretty tremendous growth spurt. At this stage many producers will start lambs on a grain creep feed, with an added low dose non-antibiotic medication (deccox) to combat coccidiossis. Fortunately we have not experienced any case of scours or evidence of coccidiossis to date. Since I am not feeding grain, ruminants are meant to eat grass!, our creep feeding area is set up with just quality free choice mineral, and very high quality alfalfa/grass hay. As you can see the lambs seem to approve...
This is also the time of year to start thinking ahead to fresh salsa and caprese salad, BLT's, and all the other wonderful things that come from the garden. This year to both save some money and because I can grow a lot cooler varieties I have decided to start my own seeds for plants that I would normally buy at the nursery. I am trying 6 different varieties of peppers and 9 varieties of tomatoes, so stay tuned to see how the great experiment goes. At this point most of the peppers and tomatoes have germinated and are growing in a sunny spot in the house, so were doing well so far...
Finally, I am blessed to eat my own eggs for breakfast everyday, and if you eat at 12 West in Delaware you also get to enjoy them! Last week I noticed that we had finally transitioned from a blander, pale yellow yolked egg back to the beautiful and vibrantly orange yolked eggs that mark summertime. This is the type of egg that you will never find at the grocery store, even in the high end, "free range", organic section (I've tried...) Any animal product that is consumed is only as good as what it consumes and that diet can be seen in the end product. Our yolks get this color because of carotenoids, and our eggs have both higher omega 3's and vitamin content, as well as lower cholesterol due to the hen's more diverse diet. If you like to cook give us a call and we will get you on the egg list. Finally first batch of meat chickens arrive next week and will be available the first week of June. We have had several people express interest in a chicken a week (CSA) program and I am taking orders. Our chickens will be fed a Non-GMO, all natural diet and will be processed at a state inspected facility. Chickens will be $3.50/lb and should be in the 4-5lb dressed range.
Well first let me first introduce myself, my name is Charlie Payne and I am a 28 year old single male and the first in four generations to return to agriculture, along with juggling a job in the conservation field. Growing up with a veterinarian for a father, I have always been around animals and always loved farming; but never thought that I would find myself living on a farm, much less owning and managing one. In September of 2014 I found myself in the position to purchase a small farm in the NW corner of Delaware County Ohio and thus began my journey into farming and raising livestock. My journey probably started at a much younger age when my mother first taught me to cook and to have a passion for the food that we consume. I have always been a bit of a foodie, and have had a passion for cooking with the best possible ingredients and this is what has lead to my interest in eating as local as possible and the concept of farm-to-table dining. The following blog will be a look into my life as a beginning farmer and the highs and lows that come with working with livestock.
The madness truly began in the spring of 2015, when my father and I decided to purchase a flock of 26 Katahdin ewe's that would make up our starter flock. Please note that before this I had never owned a sheep, let alone almost 30; and outside of a summer spent working on a ranch like property in Nebraska, I had zero experience with building fence, breeding and birthing, and the general care associated with raising livestock. Luckily between living in a great farming community and the internet here I am almost a year later with almost 40 lambs born on the farm so far this spring. I will say that this much joy hasn't come without its share of low's, and where there is life there is also unfortunately death. Last fall we had to put down a ewe that had contracted a debilitating autoimmune disease, had another that twisted the ever complicated digestive track that sheep have, and finally one that decided to drown herself in a water trough. To say that this first year has been a lesson in hard knocks would truly be an understatement. But with these lows also came some amazing highs. We were able to process 3 lambs last fall for our own consumption and to start drumming up sales of future lamb. The feedback has been absolutely incredible, with many folks saying that it is some of the best lamb that they have ever had. I have also gotten to learn how to be an animal OB, with more knowledge of female anatomy, birth, and nursing than I ever thought that I would, and have experienced more times than I would care to admit the joy of helping bring new life into this world.
This brings us to present day. It was funny, just last Friday, I had helped my neighbor run cattle through a chute that afternoon and came home to a ewe in labor and struggling, I was able to get the lamb pulled and after a second birth we had healthy twins nursing off of mama. It was 10:30 at night by this point, I hadn't eaten dinner yet, and was covered in cow and sheep manure, as well as a lovely mixture of amniotic fluid and OB lube and thought to myself here I am doing this instead of out at the bars trying to meet folks... And yet here I am loving every minute of it and following my dream of bringing great food to people, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I look forward to sharing this life with you and hope that you enjoy following along.
As always know your food, and know your farmer,