Farm News (2/10/14)

What an incredible winter! Here on the farm, snow is piled high against the red barn, animals stand flank-to-flank in clouds of their own frosty breath, and the seedling greenhouse has become a plastic-covered ark adrift in a sparkling white sea. Truth be told, the extreme cold hasn't really bothered us all that much since a good portion of our time is spent indoors keeping busy with office projects like tax preparation, prospective employee interviews, and seed ordering. There is, however, a short list of activities that does require us to spend a certain amount of time working in the out-of-doors. These projects include building a new walk-in produce cooler, trimming hooves, fixing broken water lines in the henhouse, carrying bales of hay to the sheep and collecting eggs. At the top of the list is the task of checking on all the animals several times a day to make sure they stay safe and healthy in subzero weather.

The responsibility of caring for animals is one that can cause occasional anxiety even under normal circumstances, but it has become even more fraught with worry by the recent and unexpected births of four lambs during a record-breaking cold spell. The youngest, Gretel's little ram lamb, came into the world on a night 2 weeks ago when the mercury dipped to 25 below. All three new mamas--Gretel, Curly Sue and Heidi--are doing well and caring for four healthy little lambs. All's well that ends well, thank goodness, but this certainly isn't the kind of timing we had expected. Chip and Dale, our two mature breeding rams hadn't been turned in with the ewe flock until mid-October, which, according to our calculations, meant that our first lambs shouldn't have arrived until sometime in March. It appears that we failed to account for the mischief caused by a young ram nicknamed Wingnut who escaped from his pen in August and paid a visit to the ewes during his brief but apparently exciting time on the lam. (Sorry, I know that one's a groaner, but I just couldn't help myself.) To be honest, the thought that Wingnut could have fulfilled his amorous intentions toward the ewes did cross my mind back in August at the time of his jail break. I guess I just chose to believe that he was too young and inexperienced to cause any real mischief. Well, those adorable little lambs out in the barn are living proof that we are the ones who are inexperienced, at least when it comes to being shepherds! Fortunately, this learning experience seems to have resulted in no real harm done. On the contrary, a trip to the barn to check on the lambs has provided me, on more than one occasion in recent weeks, with a much-needed distraction from the occasional tedium and fatigue that a gray winter day can bring. This is no small thing in the midst of such a winter, and for this gift I am thankful!
Have a good week.  --Peg 
Announcements and Reminders
--We've added a new pickup location in Northfield / Winnetka.  The new pickup is at Temple Jeremiah, 937 Happ Road, on Wednesdays, from 2:00-7:00pm. The new location is available for selection on our website.  Please share with your friends who live in the area.  We'd love to have those in the area join us for farm-fresh food!
--Sandhill Family Farms is now on Facebook. This is a great way to keep up with what's happening around the farm. 
--There are 2 deliveries remaining for winter egg, dairy and meat shares. The pickup time for all sites is 4:30 to 6:30. Remaining winter delivery dates are as follows:                                                                                                                         
  • Tuesday, February 25th and Tuesday, March 25 at Lake Forest and the Grayslake Farm
  • Wednesday, February 26th and Wednesday, March 26th in Barrington
  • Thursday, February 27th and Thursday, March 27th in Oak Park

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  • Margaret Sheaffer