Rolling Stone Sheep Farm is one of my favorite farms, so I have been waiting to write this because I really want to get it right and there simply has been too much going on personally (the birth of a niece, friends’ weddings, vacation, and my actual day job), I was worried I would not do it justice. So here it is finally!
Shepherd Frank greeted me, accompanied by Stella, an Australian Shepherd. While Stella is technically a herding dog, the sheep naturally get excited to move to fresh pasture (and will even cross the road!), leaving Stella without work. So she is the family pet.
I have arrived in the midst of lambing season. The newest lambs are still in lambing jugs bonding with their moms. Without the lambing jugs (if lambs and their moms are immediately sent back out to pasture), other sheep in the field will try to adopt lambs and the ewes can get confused. So they stay in the jugs for a bit.
Frank is currently growing his flock. This is his third lambing season. Right after birth, the mothers are sheared in order to help keep the lambs warm. The sheep’s wool is so well insulated that if they were not sheared, the babies would not get any of their mother’s warmth.
Frank currently has 2 lambs being bottle-fed at home. “There’s no housebreaking sheep” he laughed. They follow his daughter, the “lambsitter”, around the house like puppies.
Outside, Frank has fenced off two 1-acre grazing plots, with access to the barn, for the two different breeds of sheep. Each set of sheep is protected from coyotes by electrified fence netting and the llamas, who are very protective of their sheep. As I walk with Frank in the pasture, Gus immediately spots me and comes over to check me out. I am with Frank, so Gus is not too worried. However, he still inserts himself between me and the closest members of his flock.
What I love about Rolling Stone Sheep Farm are all of the clever ways Frank has developed to make running the farm more efficient, such as:
- Taking the sheep’s sheared wool and wrapping it around the water heater so that the heater does not freeze in the winter. (The sheep can be outside all year round because their wool keeps them so warm. “Nothing is too cold” for them, Frank says. Snow does not melt on their wool because it insulates the sheep’s bodies so well). This means Frank does not have to splurge on a generator.
- Using a small solar panel to power the electrified fence, which helps keep predators out.
- Protecting the sheep with llamas because they are effective, low maintenance, and eat the same food as the sheep, so he does not need to provide a separate meal, saving time and money.
- Giving sheared wool to a wool spinning class that is taught nearby.
- For shade in the summer, Frank bought a few trampolines and the sheep like to sit under them.
Frank’s History & About the Farm
Frank grew up raising cattle. After getting his college degree in Biology, he moved to New Zealand and worked with sheep, cattle, and deer. He currently leases 40 acres (~35 acres of pasture land) from an old dairy farm nearby. The sheep graze intensively on 1 acre per day. Then Frank moves their fencing so they always have fresh grass.
Frank is a volunteer firefighter, who is helping raise money for a new firehouse with a “Farm to Firehouse” fundraiser.
A Family Affair
Frank, Frank’s 11 year old son, is the assistant manager. (Since my father and brother are both named Frank as well, I have a natural inclination to like this farm!)
Frank’s daughter takes care of the lambs in the evenings and bottle feeds the ones living in the house.
His wife is “the Boss”.
Where to Buy & Frank’s Favorite Recipe
Restaurants (mostly Frank sells whole animals to restaurants, instead of small cuts of meat to individuals):
- Back 40 Kitchen in Greenwich, CT
- The Schoolhouse at Cannondale in Wilton, CT
- Clock Tower Grill & Food Truck in Brewster, NY
CT Farm Fresh Express – to buy cuts of meat and have it delivered to you!
Frank’s Favorite Recipe:
Frank is waging a war against mint jelly (okay, he simply frowns upon its use). Mint jelly is often used to cover up the taste of lamb that is too strong smelling. That strong smell comes from too much fat. Most people have bad experiences eating lamb growing up because of it. Frank’s lamb is mild tasting and requires no mint jelly! His favorite recipe is Martha Stewart’s Butterflied Leg of Lamb.
A Note on Lamb: Lamb is hard. They are so cute. But they do not live long lives when they are raised for human consumption. The males are castrated so that they will be more flavorful. Around 6-8 months they are taken to the slaughterhouse. (Mutton is sheep that are 1 year old or older). This is hard for me to handle, but I have to remind myself that these lambs live good lives. I am witnessing the high quality of their lives. Lambs at other farms are not always so lucky. So, if you are going to eat lamb, hopefully you will eat lamb from farms like Rolling Stone Sheep Farm.