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Doner Kebab

Have you ever experienced the magic that is a vertical stack of meat, slowly rotating and barbecuing, then shaved into a pita or flatbread with lettuce and sauce for eating?

I have.  In a perfect word, I would have a vertical Doner Kebab spit, but this is not a perfect world and I don’t tend to favor “unitasker” kitchen implements anyhow.

When I discovered the Spruce Eats “shortcut” Doner Kebab recipe, I was elated.  And friends, it works.  It’s not QUITE like the vertical spit kind, but it’s crispy and good and close enough to fill that void in my life.  And it’s so simple: in short, make a spiced lamb loaf, then finely slice and fry the slices.  Nothing elaborate needed, no special skills required.

Here are my lamb loaf slices, cooking up crisp.  I didn’t have good pitas available, so I just ate it on bread like a sandwich – delicious, nevertheless.

We have ground lamb available in all of our Lamb Boxes – order today and I’ll deliver as soon as I am in your area in NH, MA or VT.

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Sheep for Sale

I have two BFL ram lambs and three Border Leicester ewe lambs available!

Dorward Highlander is a BFL ram with all the right stuff.  He has lovely wool, great length and perfect blue coloration.  His lines are Pitchfork and Magic, tracing back to Myfyrian Trueblue, Llwygy Black Mountain and Beechtree Bruce’s Stone.  $500.

I also have Dorward Chieftain, smaller than Highlander but born a twin and handsome in his own right.  He is registered and would be perfect for crossbreeding into a fiber flock.  His coloration and wool are both perfect.  $400

I also have three lovely Border Leicester ewes available.  All three are white with good coloration and lovely Border fleece  They are registered.  Hardy and friendly, these ewes would make a perfect starter flock.  $300 each.

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Berry Picking

Many days leave me feeling utterly spoiled.  Even with a huge bruise on my leg from handling a lamb who didn’t want to be medicated and scratches on my arms from moving through rough brush, I feel like the most fortunate person alive.

After a long day of work, I took a moment to walk slowly around my property, gathering berries.  Black raspberry season is just wrapping up – I was able to find about a cup of sweet, crunchy berries on my walk.  We do not have a large population of true blackberries with their vicious thorns and inevitable large spiders (what is it with the large spiders in the blackberry patches?).  Black raspberries are my favorite for saving for later.  In the depths of winter when nothing is in season, they are my go-to for a milkshake to boost my vitamin levels and shake the blues a bit.

I also found a few raspberries.  We have raspberries near the murderbarn.  I am not sure if they were intentionally planted or if they are wild volunteers, but the berries are not as sweet as I would like.  I only located and picked a few.

Our apple crop is out-of-control this year.  Our property contains dozens of old, shaggy apple trees dotted with mealy, dry, feral apples.  Only one tree produces tasty fruit, so I watch that tree carefully.  Last year was an off year, with only a few apples on the good tree.  This year, the tree is weighted with the bulk of crisp, lovely apples.  I’m already digging up that apple chutney recipe that was so delicious.

Our land does not support blueberries, which need a very acidic soil.  I am spoiled, again, from having access to wild mountain blueberries back in New Hampshire, where I grew up.  Planting cultivated ones doesn’t really appeal to me.  To me, cultivated blueberries are sour, not sweet, and lack the rich flavor of the wild-type berries.  So I will go to New Hampshire for blueberries and leave the cultivated ones for others to enjoy.

We do, however, have gooseberries.  I don’t recall the gooseberries fruiting before this year, but we have quite a few plants.  Anyone know what to do with these weird, blandish berries?  They have a texture like a kiwi and a bland sweet/tart flavor.  I’m open to ideas!

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A Trip to the Museum

If you know me in real life, you’re probably aware that I am pretty nerdy.  So a day trip to a local historical society and museum was just the thing to share with Matt and my mom.  We decided to check out Old Stone House Day at the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington, VT.

Much of the grounds was given over to a farmer’s market, pie auction and activities for children.  We rapidly found our way to the historical agricultural tools barn, where we looked at an old sheep-powered treatmill for small tasks like churning butter or running other simple devices.  We learned that there were once many more sheep in Orleans County – hard to imagine now, as there are only a few large sheep farms in this area.

Here are some pictures from our day at the museum that I found particularly compelling:

This cutie was my first stop, for obvious reasons.  Not sure if I petted Danny or Mr. Wrinkles, but these two chill guys were taking it easy under a shade tree.  Touching their wool, I am brought straight back to why I abandoned my efforts to raise finewool sheep in Vermont.  They both had damage to the wool on their backs from our humid climate.

 

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This picture speaks for itself regarding changes to the farming economy in Vermont.  Whether you support conventional dairy farming or not, the farming infrastructure that comes with it is vital to the success of all of the small farms in the state.  We lost another 10% of our dairy farms in 2018 due to milk prices again lingering below the cost of production.

For those who care about this particular opinion, Ben & Jerry’s was MUCH better ice cream before Unilever bought them.  It hurts to see the chain of consolidation moving on up.  Jasper Hill and Vermont Creamery (dealing in goat’s milk, owned by Land’O’Lakes) are doing the same thing with the cheese market.

Here is the display on wool from the museum.  Under the sign, there was a picture of a UK-style Border Leicester.

 

 

Of note to longtime readers – if you recall two years ago when we were hunting for a home to buy to use as a farm, we almost bought a property in Brownington, only a mile or so from the museum.  We drove by the home we had considered buying, only to find the 1810-era farmhouse torn down and replaced with a modern home and a horse barn for pleasure-horses.  Such a loss, though small in the grand scheme, is nevertheless a blow to valuable agricultural land and to preservation of historic homes.   It was sad to see.

 

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My Favorite Follows

After a long day in the fields, I admit that I am as inclined to scroll through Social Media as anyone.  I saw a blog post on State 14 recently recommending some good Vermont farms to follow.  I thought I would add some of my own favorite accounts that I follow:

therunningshepherdess – Amazing photos and views of sheep farming in the UK.  This account has a great sense of humor, too.  I will look at pretty sheep faces all day

wingandaprayerfarm – Tammy inspires me to make my posts sharper and more interactive.  Her lovely yarn and darling sheep remind me to lay off the shoptalk in my feed and focus on the beauty of sheep farming for my audience.  She also inspires me to bake more pies, because hers look incredibly delicious.

vtgrandviewfarm – Kim’s natural color palette and exquisite taste reminds me to think more openly about the texture possibilities of my yarn.  I am also grateful for her beginning shepherd series. Her expertise in sheep-keeping will be invaluable for new shepherds and the sheep-curious

nepalikitchenvt – This is my favorite restaurant, period.  Started by refugees who are also community organizers, the food is fantastic and the community is fantastic.

huckleberryknits – In a phrase, “Yarn Porn.”  So much beautifully-dyed yarn and inspired design

grassfatfarm – I love the name and I love this diversified, regenerative farm in Kentucky.  For folks who love meat and want to see animals raised with love and care, I highly recommend this account.

thefeltedgnome – Susi is a local fiber artist who does incredible work.  The eyes of her animals and fairies look so alive.  I don’t know her secrets but I know that I’m always excited to see what she’s concocting next.

dotranch– An insightful feed from a sheep farmer who is indigenous, a veteran and a mother of an autistic son.  She raises Navajo Churro sheep and advocates for farming and for Native cultures.  I am waiting for her to decide to write a book, but for now, I eagerly read every post.

porkbellyuptothebar – I want to live this person’s life.  This is an account full of delicious, creative restaurant food.

archwayfarm – After I left my hometown of Keene, NH, a local pig farm sprang up!  Enjoy these charming pigs and piglets in this thoughtfully-curated feed.

And be sure to follow our accounts, cloverworksfarm (sheep and yarn) and cloverworksfarmkitchen (lamb and cuisine) if you don’t already!

 

 

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Our BFL Yarn is Here

I am so happy with the BFL yarn that came back from Battenkill Fibers this year.

In past years, our BFL clip has been too small for me to send it to a mill.  Bluefaced Leicesters are bred to have light fleeces.  In the UK, this was done with the idea of reducing the fleecy bulk of Cheviots and Scottish Blackface ewes.  The ewes from these crossbreedings are known as mules, and they are famous for having better wool and more lambs than their mountain dams, but more fleece and ruggedness than their BFL sires.

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We just love our BFL sheep!  Here, Sally gets all of the petting she wants from farmer Matt.

In the US, where BFLs are not used as much for creating mule ewes, the small fiber clip is a bit of an issue for mill processing, which requires minimum amounts.  This year, with 17 adult ewes contributing, we finally have plenty of lovely yarn to sell.

The yarn itself is something else.  I have never had yarn so smooth, shimmery and soft, while not being ropey or hard at all.  I love how it shows off the dye efforts I’ve made.  It’s easy to envision this yarn as a luxury shawl or treasured scarf.  Slouchy hats would also be a great use for it.  I’m not saying that your BFL socks won’t stay up, but I am saying that this yarn deserves to be used doing what it does best, which is draping beautifully without pilling.  I chose colors that I thought would lend life and interest to single-color projects, though the colors complement each other well, too.

Our BFL yarn is fingering weight, 200 yards per skein.  

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Cloverworks Farm Greensboro Bend Yarn

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Riblets

Raise your hand if you like Barbecue.

Alright…

Raise your hand if you like the crispy parts where the sauce and the fat melt into tasty meat.  Is that your favorite bit?  Would you nibble on bones all day?

Congrats, you are my barbecue twin.  Because that’s my favorite bit.  I’m all about texture in food, and the crispy/juicy contrast has to be my favorite.

Cue the Lamb Riblet.

I dry-rubbed some of my lamb riblets with Memphis Dust and cooked them at a low temperature on our Weber kettle grill for 3 hours.  I probably should have stopped at 2.5 hours- they were a little overcooked in spots.  The meat had a rich pink smoke-ring and the fat was well-rendered.  I love that unlike pork, which is kind of a neutral flavor substrate, lamb tastes lamby no matter what.   I paired it with a sour beer that broke up the unctuous fattiness nicely.

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Instructions for cooking riblets vary a great deal depending on your grill or oven setup.  I recommend amazingribs.com for real, tested recipes.  Don’t let the shouty, blinky nature of the site fool you- I promise it is the real thing for food science-based recommendations and techniques for making great barbecue on any kind of grill.

We have 18 more sets of riblets, so get some for your next barbecue at the next Craftsbury Farmer’s Market!

 

 

 

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Something Genuine

Every morning, I step outside and pause at the blackberry bushes growing by the deck.  I pick all of the ripe berries I can find, relishing each one.   Anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen fresh berries greet me each morning.  It feels like an ad for something low in calories.  Sunshine warms my hair and a bit of sweat starts to trickle.  I know I am going to roast in the sun today, but I don’t mind.

Fresh out of school, before I started farming, I remember how much time I spent walking on hard concrete, rushing to get to my office chair and longingly gazing out through a slim window at a tree by the street near my building.   I felt badly for folks out working in all weather, but at the same time, I yearned for more physical activity, less sitting, more action.

I think about this when visitors at the farmer’s market ask about sheep farming.  I think that visitors to my booth assume that I’ve been farming my whole life.  Since many who farm are following in family footsteps, that’s natural.  There’s not a concise way to express that I gave up my feeble efforts at climbing up a career ladder because I wanted to be outside, moving.

Farm work offers a different set of tradeoffs versus office jobs – I’m never restless and I’m seldom bored, but sometimes I am frustrated or exhausted by animals or economics.  Sheep as coworkers are not always direct communicators and don’t readily ask for help.  Nevertheless, they never gossip and they seldom take my lunch out of the fridge.   Working with Matt also brings an incredible intimacy of teamwork and additional challenges of being so fully in each other’s space at all times.

It’s the same as any work that takes place in all weather- there are good days and bad.  Sometimes I am soaked to the bone, but I never again yearn to sit in an office wishing the sun were shining on me.